Afraid of needles and marathon training

afraid of needles and marathon training

I’ll be honest, at this point last year, five weeks from my first marathon, the panic set in.

My body hadn’t responded well to my first 15 mile run, my head was happy I’d done it –  my body less so!

15 miles was completely new territory. Boom! Every step I had taken over the 13.2miles I had done in the Tunbridge Wells half marathon was a bonus. But also a step into the unknown.

I had my music sussed, my route planned and training kit ready to go.

But my neural inflammation was back with a vengeance. It was extreme and landed me at the London Bridge hospital to have an epidural of all things to relieve the tension in my back and inflamed nerves. I’m afraid of needles but acupuncture for tight glutes, calves and hamstrings has worked wonders for me too.

The rather larger epidural needle worked its magic: my relief was immense in more ways than one. Like many charity runners I had the weight of raising funds on my shoulders too. I had committed to five amazing charities and the London Marathon was a very public kick start to raising £250,000 at

I couldn’t possibly back down now.

This weekend you’re probably planning to head out for 18 miles. I remember that one as being nerve-wracking but also exciting. I was doing serious miles and feeling like a marathon runner. Embrace this feeling!

I managed the very long runs by planning my other training carefully including 6 milers 3x a week, CV and light weights in the gym and parkrun for the sheer fun of it. Plus I did yoga and booked in massages, they both really helped.

“Running makes me feel free and alive”

Here are my tips which I hope help you:

  1. Look after your body. If you need a day off or to change your training days around, don’t be afraid to do it.
  2. Focus on your long run. Prepare your clothing, feet and mind for what you are hoping to achieve.
  3. Get someone to run or go on a bike with you to keep you going and motivate you, especially on your long runs.
  4. Try your race day food and drink on your long run. Practice in training and not leave until the day of the race. Very important. Note how you’re feeling and what might need adjusting.
  5. Plan your 18 miles. Check the route, set your pace, visualise your run and embrace it. Use to connect with others and share routes.
  6. Book a massage or yoga session after your long run and try and do one once a week leading up to your big day.
  7. Give your trainers a final check. If you think they need replacing pre-race do it this week.
  8. Try a shorter run in your race-day outfit in case it needs adjustment.
  9. Remember there is NO turning back so you may as well SMILE!