That old familiar feeling


Nervous, butterflies in the tummy, edgy, anxious, can’t settle, heavy legs; sound familiar? Lists of lists, piles of kit getting added to and taken away from, random kit purchases, indeed random purchases full stop; does that also sound familiar?

It’s not a problem that my ice shoes are not goretex, and no I do not need waterproof or more thermal socks. I probably did not need the new ski goggles, nor that new long-sleeved top (err oops, make that two long-sleeved tops) to cover up in the sun.

Yes, they are the classic symptoms of that deadly condition: ‘taperitis’.

We suffer from it to a lesser or greater degree depending on the individual and the scale and importance of the event. It is the inevitable side effect of reducing you training and your body’s response to the drop in Endorphins.

A friend asked me last week if I taper aggressively. It all depends on how fit I am and the distance that I am tapering for. My current taper for the Namibian Sand Marathon and Genghis Khan Ice Marathon double, has been a bit eccentric to say the least, and perhaps not a recommended approach.

Thanks to the festive season I found myself in the position of doing my ‘last’ long run 5.5 weeks before my event; an almost conscious decision based on the fact that my chances of being able to do a long run over the 2nd half of December were minimal to say the least. Indeed, my plan to do 13 miles the weekend before Christmas went out of the window as I found myself massively behind schedule with my Christmas preparations. I only managed a couple of short runs, one cycle and one weights and core strength session over the Christmas week.

Of course that then triggers the demons in your head who start to mither about losing strength and fitness and yes, early stage ‘taperitis’ starts.

I did arrange another last long run for New Year and met up with a couple friends on New Year’s Day itself to go and blast out the cobwebs. Whether or not that actually helped is debateable. Mentally, it was good to get out and get a good long run in with plenty of climbing. However; having spent the best part of 2 weeks doing sod all, drinking most days, and whilst not exactly over eating not eating the healthiest of diets; I did feel it the next day as the DOMS kicked in which did not really allay my anxiety. My subsequent efforts over the last week have been a bit lack lustre and heavy legged and with much puffing and panting. Sound familiar? In reality though my fitness levels were set about four weeks ago and won’t slip that much as long as I keep in ticking over mode.

Nervousness is a key component of the lead up to an event and I have not felt this level of nervousness since my trip to Antarctica. You would have thought I would be an old hand at this by now, but for some reason the nerves are running high. In some respects it is positive thing. It means that I will take care the plan and ensure that I have everything I need for the extreme environments and that I will not be overly confident and that I will not take undue risks or make rash decisions. But this time around there is a touch of negativity to the nerves. During 2016 my confidence was dented and elements of self-doubt crept in. I started to question my ability, my goals and my motivation dipped. My recent review of 2016 shows why this has happened. It has been a combination of mediocre performance and allowing other’s negativity influence me.

This is a new year and this is a new and exciting challenge for me and the opportunity to test myself in different environments and in fledgling events. I believe that it is always good to experience events in their infancy, there is refreshing and intangible frisson of energy and excitement about them. This challenge will, all being well, remind me what I am capable of; boost my confidence again and reinvigorate my motivation; remind me to dream big and that I can exceed expectation and succeed against the odds. Butterflies be banished!

Now, also, step away from the already sorted and checked (numerous times) pile of kit, step away from the bag and do not under any circumstances cross the threshold of any more sports or outdoors shops.

taper cat.jpg

‘Taperitis’ be gone with you!

I am currently running a Crowd Funding campaign to raise support for my Global Odyssey challenge in 2017, in which I will attempt to be the 1st woman to run 7 ultra-marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. If you would like to support this please you can visit my campaign page here