Tapering before a marathon brings with it a lot of doubt. I’ve done it six times before and each time I find myself doubting my ability, and feeling as if maybe I should have done more or maybe I did too much.
My ritual goes something like this: the first week of the taper my body is exhausted from all of the hard running. Two weeks into the taper I start doubting my ability to run 26.2 miles, thinking maybe I should run a 20 miler right this minute, just to see if I can. I know these doubts are not unique to me but last week when I ran my last long pre-marathon run, 24 miles, I wasn’t just nervous and worried about all the things runners worry about before such a run like, Will it be a good run? Will I hit the wall? Lucky for me, I have the bonus blood sugar worry. It’s particularly bad this time because my BG has been consistently inconsistent over the last few weeks.
After my bad half marathon experience, in my following run I was very disciplined about sticking to my running plan, making sure not to run faster than I was supposed to. I ran the first 4 miles at an easy pace (8:35) before getting into more of a marathon pace. I ran the next 8 miles at an 8:00 minute mile pace, which felt good, and the next 6 miles at a 7:45 pace, which felt comfortable, too.
I was supposed to run the last 6 miles at a 7:30 pace but I couldn’t hold it and ended up running at a 7:35-7:40 pace. During the run I checked my blood sugar every 3 miles. I was very nervous that it would stay too high during the run, but to my surprise my blood sugar behaved and, as planned, I took a gel every 6 miles, which kept my blood sugar in the 130 – 200 range.
I was in a great mood after the run. My body didn’t feel too bad, my blood sugar seemed to be controllable and my average pace for the run was 7:56 (a pace that will earn me a new personal record). All of this made me feel confident, like I was ready to run a good marathon.
I also realized that it is okay for my blood sugar to go over 180 or even 200 during the marathon (as long as it doesn’t go much higher than that) and that it will come down.
But now doubt is settling in again. I keep wondering if my last long run was the exception or the rule. I’ve had a few bad blood sugar nights during the last week, including one that left me feeling half asleep even after running 11 miles. That really made me worry.
I know I will get more nervous as the marathon approaches, and that no matter how good my blood sugar control is I will be nervous about it until I cross the finish line.