The Taper

ImageMy final long run is done. 20 miles of slog around Cardiff and now – in theory – I’m ready. I’ve missed a few midweek shorter runs, but often replaced these with a swim, and I’ve not missed a single long run from the schedule. I’ve eaten (slightly) better, and I’ve not had a beer for weeks.

So, what the hell do I do now?

The Marathon is still 15 days away, and I feel the need to do the running equivalent of ‘cramming’ and try squeeze as many miles in as I can between now and April 21st. But… I must not. For now is the time of the taper.

For those not in the know, you can read the Runner’s World 60-second guide to tapering here. But, essentially it is all about taking your foot off the pedal, easing back on training and making sure you are fresh and ready to go for race day. It sounds a lot easier than it is. Last year, I had no choice. I was injured and resting up for a full month before the run came around. This year, I feel twitchy. I’m almost apologetic when people ask, and I have to tell them that I will only be running 10 miles this weekend.

I suppose that’s the difference between someone who is generally fit and healthy, who happens to run, and someone who has come to rely on running as a barrier to keep them away from the warm, comfortable embrace of fatty food, ale and the couch. I’m going cold turkey on my cold turkey. And no brown sauce in sight. 

So how was the 20-miler? Tough. The first ten miles in particular were really worrying. I had to stop and stretch out the calf muscles a few times. But, then the second 10 miles really flew by, I got into a rhythm and everything just clicked somehow. And I could, with a slight leap of faith, imagine going another six and a bit miles. 

The longest run, Vital statistics:

Run: 20.42miles in 3hrs2min

Spotted: fellow runners easing past me as though I were standing still – I resisted the urge to shout “I’m going 20 miles you sod”; a bus with “No Service” emblazoned across the front, packed with passengers, I wondered about them for some time; wind-whipped little whitecaps darting across Cardiff Bay; a lady walking lots of dogs, wearing a coat with “dog-walker” written on the back – a dangerous precedent. 

Photo: “A rest on the road”.


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  1. Loved this post! Tapering sounds so easy and nice but it really is an awkward period for distance runners. And I’ve had that moment on the trails before too. People are flying by on their three mile run, and you are dragging yourself along on mile 10. Its all worth it in the end though!
    Good luck at your marathon!

  2. Taper time is torchure when were used to being out in all weathers. Maybe see you on course at London !! Good luck.

    • Thanks for the comment, Zoe. I really had to persuade myself to keep it down to 11 miles today, how daft is that? A couple of months ago, I’d be begging NOT to have to do that! As for London, I’ll be the one in a Get Kids Going t-shirt looking nervous…

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