It’s official. I’ve reached that stage. The stage where you aren’t going to get any sense out of me until April 15th. The onset of Maranoia, which is a state of anxiety afflicting marathon runners in their latter stages of training, whereby they are constantly convinced they will become ill, injured or otherwise afflicted by marathon-ruining events.
The symptoms of Maranoia are as follows:
- Disturbed sleep and anxiety dreams. I have been waking at 3 on the dot, sweating like I’ve just run the Hackney Half, with some improbable marathon related scenario unfolding in my brain. Strangely, although there are at least a million things I am actually worried about happening, the things that happen in my dreams are not top of the list. Examples include:
- Oversleeping and missing the start. (Not really likely if I wake up at 3 every morning)
- Forgetting to put my running clothes on and finding myself at the start in a latex pencil skirt and platform boots.
- Taking a wrong turn on the marathon route and ending up in a Mexican restaurant. (Valentine’s parkrun experience unlikely to help with this)
- Utter fear of catching any germs whatsoever, to the point where I am actually wiping my desk down with antiseptic wipes, drowning my hands in antibacterial gloop and nearly bursting into tears at the news that a colleague has gone off sick with a stomach related illness.
- Constant fear that every little pain – and there are a lot of little pains when you are marathon training – is the onset of a new injury. Incidentally, this is not helped by the fact that I went back and read a Livejournal post about Maranoia that I made just before Dublin and found that I had illustrated this point with the fact that I had gone to A+E convinced that I had a stress fracture and the doctor had taken one look and said “You don’t have a stress fracture, you have sprained your knee”. A MRI a year later confirmed that it had actually been a stress fracture.
- Utter obsession with the weather, repeated checking of at least three different weather forecasts, also finding weather forecasts for previous years and praying to weather gods that the weather for all important races will be ten degrees centigrade and partly cloudy.
- Maths suddenly improves to A-level standard as I spend hours plugging various running speeds into calculators to work out what pace I need to maintain to beat the sweep up coach or even hit my target. Also time management and Google calendar skills become tip top after fitting 40 kilometres of running around 60 hours of work every week.
- Falling out with at least two friends and thwarting potential romantic encounters with phrases such as “That sounds great, but I can’t possibly go out until April”
- Being unfollowed on social media by the remainder of your friends, because every other post is either a Strava map of a parkrun or a still of an upcoming race, captioned “X Days To Go”. Some, but not all, of said friends resolve not to bother speaking to you for X Days. Those remaining are runners themselves.
- Constant worrying about eating too much/not enough carbs/protein/jelly snakes. Also about weight and the fact that I weigh at least ten kilos more than Paula Radcliffe and oh my god how am I ever going to heave myself round the course I must lose weight but no must eat or I’ll have no energy and PASS OUT. Followed by reading an article about weight and running which says that even if I lost 10kg it would only take eighteen lousy minutes off my marathon time! I vaguely remember the days when I use to run because of the effect it had on my weight; now I lose weight because of the effect it has on my running.
- Also speaking of food and Paula Radcliffe, the very real fear of needing the toilet during the wrong moment of the race. I don’t want to dwell on this too much.
- The possibility of being sectioned due to excess worry before race day. Possibly the biggest threat of all.