Marathon Runners & The Pain of Maranoia

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17th November 2015
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Marathon Runners & The Pain of Maranoia

We spent the weekend at the Brighton Marathon exhibition surrounded by brave and slightly crazy/ crazed marathon runners.  And believe me, even if it was your first marathon, you are a marathon runner.  Now I know I have touched on this subject before in another of my blogs, surely just because I take part in the odd triathlon it doesn’t make me a triathlete?  Well I suppose it does, not that I would use that as a conversation starter on meeting a new boss.  However, I think there may be certain caveats to this and the most obvious would be the number of hours spent training because it is more than possible to complete a sprint triathlon with minimal training, whereas I think it would be folly to do the same for a marathon, which is why it may be more true to say you are a marathon runner as soon as the ballot acceptance pops up in your inbox.


There are many things I thought I knew about runners and one of those was that they have fairly terrible feet.   That got you to have a little look south didn’t it?  Well it is an unfortunate truth, marathon running is not as good for your feet as it is for your soul.  You cannot pretend that those ugly weeping blisters are attractive to anyone other than the podiatrist, and we haven’t even progressed to the black and missing toe nails.  It is a lose-lose situation really, the more you run the more time your feet spend in trainers, and the more time they spend in trainers the more they need to be aired (trainers and feet) but the more you run, the less likely you are to be able to get your feet out in public.  There really isn’t an easy solution to this although I did read recently that surgical tape, available from all pharmacists, the one with the weave, can be placed between your toes to stop the friction.  The one ailment I had never heard of however is more troubling than your yellowing toes.


Marathon runners are struck with a debilitating condition known as Maranoia.  Now it must exist because there’s an article about it in the Marathon issue of Men’s Running.  It is a condition of anxiousness that precedes a marathon, the irrational belief that something is going to go wrong.  It manifests as illness or injury or thinking of all the things you might forget or the pit falls you may face.  Perhaps it’s an exacerbated version of the tennis twitch (Nadal fiddling with his face and knickers before a serve), the sporting superstitions that give rise to little routines that subconsciously feel so necessary.


How can you overcome it even if you aren’t aware of it?  Well, Professor Andy Lane, a Sport and Exercise Psychologist, with a respectable marathon PB to boot, featured in the article suggests a couple of tips.  You may want to read it for yourself so I shan’t spoil the content, however, the usual rules apply with a little of my own embellishment.  1. Listen to your body, not only when it says run but also when it says rest. 2. Think successful thoughts, visualise the finish line and the elation you will feel at some stage at or after the line.  If you cannot bear to think about the end before the beginning you can self-diagnose a serious case of maranoid thinking! 3. Stick to your training and nutrition strategy and if this feels a little advanced, develop a strategy you can stick to.  When you play by your rules you have something to focus on and success surely follows preparation.  4. Finally, be logistically aware.  Know which roads are closed before the event and rehearse your journey to the start.  Remove as many external stressors as you can by registering in good time, stocking up your nutritional supplies in advance of the day and making sure you rest up the day before rather than whizzing around like a last minute Christmas shopper.  The event will take care of itself if you take care of you.  And whilst you’re at it, book an appointment with a foot doctor.  Good luck out there.

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