Monday, 11 April 2011

Lighting the taper

Something dawned on me yesterday: just a week remained until London Marathon. You may think me careless to even need reminding but I've been away on holiday, enjoying the blissful denial as weekdays and weekends merged gloriously together. I was dragged back to reality this morning and made it to Palma airport to accompany the sun-crisped, Stella-drenched masses on the return leg of their journey back to Blighty.

I am at least aware that I should be well into the "tapering" phase by now: the practice of reducing the volume and intensity of training in the run up to an important race. Did you catch those two important words there? "Volume" and "intensity"? I’m not sure I did; in fact, it would be a gross misrepresentation to state that my training has convincingly consisted of either really. If we're thinking geometrically (and why wouldn't we... isn't your mind a permanent blur of isosceles trapezoids and polyhedra too?),then in order to have a taper, surely there must have been some width in the shape to start with (now "width" is a word with more familiarity, particularly for describing my backside in running shorts). No, this girl's training triangle's taper would have Pythagoras scratching his magnificent hypotenuse.

Not that I'm fretting about this; preparing for this marathon has had as much emphasis on enjoying the running again as it has building the mileage and I feel like I've been successful in the first aim, even if the marathon sits trouser-soilingly close on the horizon. And, if the conventional training programme is going to undergo such modifications, then so too can my interpretation of the idea of tapering. So, here are the 4 priorities for a taper I have decided upon in the absence of any accepted wisdom:

1. Stay intact

Tips: Avoid mildly straining a quad muscle during an embarrassingly energetic attempt to conquer the under-13s netball team in an end of term "friendly" game. If this cannot be avoided, better not to aggravate said strain by bunny-hopping over pot holes whilst out on the road bike and/or tripping on a kerb on the way out of the local bar in cycling shoes.

2. Stay well

Tips: Dodge germs by getting lots of fresh air and keeping away from sneezing, lurgy-ridden people. Spending a week cycling behind a man recovering from a chest infection intermittently triggering some kind of intergalactic snot-nebulae across the peleton is definitely not advised.

3. Eat well

Tips: Take care selecting foods to eat during the period of tapering. Aim for nutritious and healthy meals, rather than high fat snacks and treats. Drink plenty of water, rather than coffee in sun-soaked Mallorcan cafes.


4. Rest well

Tips: Resist the temptation to book a cycling holiday in the fortnight before the marathon, particularly if you are weak-willed against the promise of sunny days and visions of men in lycra. If this is unavoidable, stop regularly, being sure to take into account Taper Tip number 3.


1 week in Mallorca, 350+ miles on the bike and 6 days to go until the marathon. I hope this taper hasn't burned out by Sunday.



  1. Aren't tapers large stripy browsing mammals, rather resembling badgers? Oh no, that's tapirs, sorry. Anyway, good tapiring. And that cakey-type thing looked fiiiiiiiine. Speedo man, less so.

  2. Sounds like your taper has been far more enjoyable than mine... last week of term, with a job interview today! aggggh! I'll be exhausted before I even reach the start line!! Good luck for it, not that you need it! :-)

  3. Ewwwww speedos! Now I love the tapering weeks but not sure you have comprehended the full meaning of it-bike holiday not sure how that fits under that paticluar umbrella!Best of luck on Sunday

  4. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm strawberry cheesecake aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  5. A change is as good as a taper and I gather that new research shows that most of the ills of the modern world are caused by vitamin D deficiency, so your time in the sun will have worked miracles. Good luck!

  6. I shall be eagerly watching today's T.V coverage for a giant cupcake that slowly morphs into a muscular, featureless woman with a slightly pointy bottom and deformed kneecaps who is wearing school shoes. All the best for today (not that you'll read this before you get back now). Have a great time. Looking forward to the next post!


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