Time to Taper. Our London Marathon Runner Writes…

Marathon season is upon us and this Sunday, 9th April, three runners will tackle the Brighton Marathon on our behalf. Then, on Sunday, 23rd April, we have a single runner tackling the London Marathon and we wish all of our runners the best of luck with what is one of the ultimate challenges.

Our London Marathon runner, Jon Copestake (pictured), has been maintaining an excellent blog on the Run For Bhopal site and you can read his posts here: CLICK

Here’s Jon’s latest post on ‘tapering’ the training before the big day. it’s an excellent read:

“On Saturday I ran my longest run before the London Marathon itself. A 22 mile slog through the midday heat. Normally I count early April sunshine as a blessing but, as someone who has trained in the frost, ice and rain of a British winter I found myself cursing the sun with each mile that went by, especially after mile 12 when I could feel myself slowing more and more. The actual temperature was probably less than 15 degrees Celsius, but if felt like double that. At one point I had to ask a Good Samaritan washing his boat to top up my water bottle with his hosepipe.

“By the time I finished I was spent. But that’s how it should be. When you start to taper you do so to give your body a chance to recuperate ahead of the event itself. So it should be no surprise that your longest pre-marathon run is a tough one.

“That’s not to say you should take your foot off the gas too quickly. Tapering is all about a measured reduction in activity which keeps people fit without overwhelming their muscles. If you go from 20 miles to nothing your body will get confused. The energy it normally generates for running will have nowhere to go. You’ll feel sluggish and listless at the same time. Your immune system may weaken and make you prone to coughs and colds that you’d previously ignored.

“Tapering advice differs. My training schedule has still set activities most days including a 13 mile run at the weekend. After focusing on distance for the last 3 months I may use the opportunity to focus a bit more on pace. In my training for this marathon I’m running faster than I have for previous ones… 20-30 seconds a mile faster on longer runs, but I’ve definitely neglected the strength and interval training that so many have advised. I also need to make sure I’m comfortable running in warmer weather. My weekend run taught me that much.

“Tapering is also about preventing runners from picking up a last minute injury so advice is also generally not to push too much or engage in risky activities in the final few weeks. For me this has meant taking a step back from my weekly six aside football game until the marathon is over. For anyone who knows me the prospect of a month without football is a far greater personal sacrifice than the last 3 months of training.

“There are other, more mundane, preparations I need to undertake. Nutrition needs to be thought about and I need to start upping my carbohydrate intake. I also need to plan for race day: the logistics of arrival, where I’ll go after the race, what I’ll take with. I need to write my name on my running top. Apparently this helps the crowd encourage you, something I’ve never experienced, since my previous marathons have been pretty sparsely attended. London will be very different and I need to mentally adjust for that as well.

“I also need to plan my playlist of marathon music. I created a two hour playlist for training runs but now I need a four hour + one for the actual marathon. The last thing I want to be doing is fiddling around with my phone on mile 15 trying to get some tunes on.

“People are divided about music and running. My wife runs without it but to me it’s essential. My worst marathon, where I fell apart at mile 20, happened to be one in which headphones were banned and running to the beat of my feet made me feel lonely and empty. In another marathon I was going relatively strong at mile 23 when my phone ran out of batteries. Those last 3 miles without music were horrible, by the time I crossed the finish line I was slightly delirious with fatigue.

“For anyone who is planning a playlist to run to my advice is to make it a lot longer than your planned time so you can skip songs and keep it as eclectic as possible. Putting on a long continuous mixtape is great for rhythm but can quickly become boring. My playlist includes a mix of genres: Motown, Electro, Hip hop, Psychedelic rock, Indie, Britpop etc. This keeps things interesting and if a song doesn’t match my mood I can easily move the playlist onto something completely different. Don’t compose a playlist that builds or anticipates peaks and troughs though. You never know when they will be and the aggressive techno that you planned to kickstart mile 15 might fall flat if you’re having a bad mile.

“One thing I don’t need to worry about is my fundraising. Thanks to the kind generosity of my donors I’ve already exceeded that by a substantial chunk. I’ve received donations from all over the world: Hong Kong, India and The US. I’ve received donations from family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and complete strangers. I’m thankful and grateful to everyone who has donated and to those who still plan to (you still can).

“For me this means a huge amount. It has enabled me to participate in a global event doing something that I love for a charity that I truly care about. I’m also incredibly grateful to the Bhopal Medical Appeal for giving me this opportunity and for all the support and encouragement they’ve given to me in my training and writing the blog, especially Matt and Colin, my main contacts at the charity.

“This is likely to be my last post before the event itself and, barring any mishap my next and probably final post in this series will relate to my experience of participating in the marathon itself.

“For anyone looking to attend on the day my race number is 54528. There will be an app and a website that should allow people to track roughly where I am on the course. For more information see here.

“And, of course, you can still sponsor me here”


Girl with candle Bhopal

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