The Terrible Taper

The taper.  The final few weeks of preparation and contemplating the challenge lying ahead.  Some runners seem to love it as a chance to fill their faces with carbs; others are bouncing off the walls, desperate to get to the race. Here’s a few of my tapering observations…

Where has all the time gone: You’ve had this race booked for months. Training plans were meticulously created with mileage building up until race day. Suddenly, you’re mere weeks away and the taper is here. You begin asking yourself, “Have I done enough?”; “I don’t think I got enough long runs in!”, “Why on earth did I skip so many sessions from my training plan?” It’s not the time to play catch-up, though; the work is done and suddenly doing back-to-back runs to “catch-up” is only going to end in disaster.

All sorts of things start hurting: You’ve worked far too hard for anything to scupper your race now. But every run is a potential disaster, and the phantom injuries start to appear. Twinges appear in the knee/ankle/hamstring without warning, but are you imagining it? Is it the paranoia of a potential injury? Why does everyone on the bus/in the lift start stepping dangerously close to your toes?  Why have they organised a BMX night at work? (This actually happened).

Embracing the carb load: Everything contains carbs, right? At least that’s what you tell yourself.  The fourth biscuit from the office cupboard is just taking advantage of a carb-loading opportunity, and no-one can tell you to stop eating because you quite simply need the energy. Best to try not to end up stuffed full of white pasta and a dodgy stomach the day before though, eh?

Giving up the beer: Months and months ago when you booked on that race, you promised yourself to go tea-total for at least the final two months, well maybe one month. As time creeps along, you suddenly realise there is your cousins wedding, the works outing, and at least four Fridays during your dry period, so you decide two weeks will be enough, maybe one week. Roll on the night before and you’re convincing yourself that surely one glass of red wine will be OK? It’s mainly fruit, right?

You’re about to stop boring everyone to death: Everyone will be glad this is over. The missus has heard so much about your current kilometre pace and which socks you’re going to wear that she only has to look at you and starts glazing over. People dive for cover in the office in case you start to talk about your upcoming race. Don’t worry, it’ll all be over soon and you can bask in the glory of all the hard work you’ve done. At least for five minutes until you start scouring the internet for the next one!

Originally published on Men’s Running:

Lemon, Chicken and Rice Stew

Marathon time is here and we all know it’s wise to get some extra carbs in before race day.  What this doesn’t mean is you have to stuff your face with piles of white pasta that you’re not used to and barely anything else (which is the “advice” I’ve seen dotted round the internet).

Here’s a carb-heavy simple recipe.  Along with some bread on the side, perhaps not the white bread pictured 🙂 it makes for a nutritious meal leading up to race day.



  • 2 chicken breasts (free range)
  • Several decent sized potatoes
  • Servings of rice (2-3 people)
  • 1 Courgette
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • Large clove of garlic
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Bay leaves



  • Cut the chicken into small chunks and fry in a small amount of oil until lightly cooked.
  • Meanwhile chop the potatoes, courgette, celery, carrots, onion and garlic and place into a large pot along with a few bay leaves


  • Add the cooked chicken and just about cover with water and add salt/pepper to taste.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer for around 45 minutes.
  • Add the rice and squeeze of lemon and simmer for another 10 minutes until the rice is cooked. This should have absorbed much of the water giving a thicker texture.
  • Serve in a bowl along with bread and another squeeze of lemon.


I generally make this, eat it, then look over and see a lemon on the worktop that I’ve forgotten. As a reminder, here is a picture of a lemon.


Recipe: Steak Tagliatelle with Spinach and Roasted Vegetables


Here is a fantastic pre-race recipe from @boredofdiets1

Published with full permission, I’ve eaten this and similar variants before many of my races.  Tasty, nutritious and has served me well.  Give it a try!


Serves 2

1 sirloin steak sliced with fat trimmed off (or steak of your choice – ribeye is good too)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 garlic clove – crushed, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 red chili – finely chopped
1 red pepper – sliced
10 cherry tomatoes
a couple of handfuls of spinach
140g /200g of tagliatelle (200g is only if you are having it as a pre-race dinner)
40g of cheddar or cheese of your choice (mozzarella would work well too)

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. First put the cherry tomatoes and sliced red pepper in an oven proof dish and drizzle over the olive oil. Put this in the oven and let them roast for around half an hour.

In the mean time heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and fry the sliced steak for a few minutes until the meat is browned. Remove the steak from the pan and put on a plate to one side.

Next put the garlic and chili in the pan, add the tinned tomatoes and oregano and let it simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally.

About 10 minutes before the roasted vegetables are ready, bring a pan of water to the boil and cook the tagliatelle according to the instructions, normally for around 5 minutes.

Whilst the tagliatelle is cooking add the spinach to the pan with the simmering tinned tomatoes, stir in for a few minutes until it wilts. Then add the steak back in to the pan, mix it all together for a couple of minutes, making sure the steak is heated through and then turn off the heat.


When the roasted vegetables are done take them out and add the steak and tomato mixture to the dish and mix. Next add the tagliatelle and mix thoroughly, then sprinkle the cheese on top.

Return the dish to the oven for a couple of minutes to let the cheese melt, then serve