The Manchester marathon maranoia

All being well, my husband and I will be running Manchester marathon in a few days. I’ve written before about maranoia – the very special paranoia which many runners suffer from in the last few days and weeks before a marathon. You’ve put so much work in and you don’t want anything to get in the way and stop you from running that race. Then there is also the irrational fears and worries about the day itself. That’s what I’m dealing with right now.

After running Newport marathon last year in quite challenging circumstances (my husband, who was supposed to be running with me, got Covid the day before), I was feeling really strong and proud of myself. Having run that marathon in less than ideal conditions, I felt I could run any marathon, any time, anywhere. I had nothing to worry about!

Less than two months after Newport, I started to train for Manchester marathon. (I will have spent seven of the last nine months in marathon training.) I felt positive and excited about the marathon.

Then I remembered how far away it is. And how big it is. And how I would have to stay over the night before…

Previously, the furthest away I’ve travelled for a race is either Bath or Newport. Bath half marathon in 2011 was my first half marathon in 15 years. It is also one of the biggest half marathons there is – second only to the Great North Run I believe. It’s just over an hour away from home.

After that, I ran Bristol half marathon in 2011 and 2012 – another big race, not quite as far away from home.

Then came Cheltenham half marathon in 2013 and I realised something. You don’t have to travel far to do a half marathon and it doesn’t need to involve tens of thousands of people.

13 miles is still 13 miles, wherever you run it.

Since then, I’ve pretty much stuck with half marathons in Gloucestershire – Cheltenham, Stroud and Tewkesbury.

I still get a real buzz from running them, but with minimal additional stress around sleeping, eating, travelling, going to the toilet etc etc.

And if 13 miles is 13 miles, 26 miles is 26 miles.

There are no marathons in Gloucestershire. Newport is probably the closest. It’s about an hour away. I can get up in the morning and travel there, then travel home again.

Manchester is over two hours away and it’s a huge race – second only to London, I believe. We can’t travel there on the day.

We are planning to stay over with my mother-in-law, who lives in Cheshire. That’s fairly local, but travelling will still be a big logistical exercise in the morning. Being in a strange bed, I will undoubtedly have even worse sleep than usual (I woke up at 2.56am on the morning on Newport marathon.)

As an IBS sufferer, I’m always very careful about what I eat before a race or long run. I won’t be able to cook my own food the night before. Although I might actually cook it at home and take it up with me.

All the races I’ve done in recent years have started at 9am. So even the marathon finished on the late side of lunchtime for me. That doesn’t mess with the body clock too much. But Manchester is so big that it has a staggered start. My start is at 10.25 – mid-morning, by which time I will already be hungry. But I daren’t eat a snack or a bigger breakfast because of my IBS. By the time we finish, it will be mid-afternoon.

I worried about how we will get home again after the race. It’s a long way to drive on tired legs and when you are physically and mentally exhausted. I cope better with tiredness and my legs than my husband does, but he’s a much better driver than me. So we’ve decided to get the train, which seems a far more sensible option. But, although we will pack as lightly as possibly, it means leaving a fairly big bag in the bag drop at the marathon. We will also have to rely on my mother-in-law to drop us off at the start in the morning. Despite the later start time, I suspect we will still need to set off incredibly early.

These might all seem like small worries, but added together, they become quite a big worry. Already I’m thinking that I don’t ever want to travel a long way for a race again.

On top of that, there are the usual Covid/ illness worries. Covid cases are going through the roof again and we need to avoid it. Just under three weeks until the marathon, my eldest got a bad cold. A few days later, my husband got a slight cold. Less than two weeks until the marathon. I got a slight cold. Two weeks before the marathon, my sister tested positive for Covid. I’d been with her the previous day, although thankfully outside.

With less than two weeks until the marathon, my eldest thought he’d got Covid. He’d got a temperature over 39, a bad headache and just generally felt very ill. After testing negative on both lateral flow tests and a PCR, it clearly wasn’t Covid. It may have been flu. We pretty much followed the principles of Covid isolation. He stayed in his room. I delivered him food and medication wearing a mask. If he came out of his room briefly, he wore a mask. We had lots of windows open throughout the house. If my husband or I caught his flu/ bad virus, it would have been game over for our marathon.

My husband has now trained for three marathons (four if you count the long runs he did with me when I trained for my first marathon) and not actually run one, thanks to Covid.

With just a few days to go, keep everything crossed for us that we make it to the start line this time!

Newport marathon, Newport marathon medal, Medal, Runner, Marathon runner



Author: Sarah Mummy

Share This Post On


  1. Wishing you the best of luck. I hope the marathon goes great. It sounds like you have everything planned so well. I hope everything goes OK. x

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! I’m looking forward to it, despite my silly worries. It should be really good. x

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much! I am looking forward to it, despite my silly worries. My husband is slightly injured, but he’s convinced he will make it round.

      Post a Reply
    • We were. The plan was always to run together and we put down the same estimated finish time. Thank you.

      Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: