Nick Hutchings's marathon blog 9

Nick Hutchings's marathon blog
(Image credit: Unknown)

Tattoos. They hurt quite a lot. And I now know from bitter experience that they hurt a lot more if you've run 34.4km just before getting them.

My tolerance to needles isn’t great at the best of times but I had a lot less in the tank for this tatt than previous ones. I had to get my tattooist to stop several times during the three-hour sitting. When he was doing the outline it felt as if he was pouring friggin' molten lead over my arm. Afterwards I was pretty spacey – he held my arm to look at it and I wasn't sure if we were looking at mine or his.

I wouldn't recommend this to anybody as a pre-race session. I know it's stupid to subject your body to this much abuse, but here's how my mind works: if I can put my body through something way harder than the race itself, I'll be golden on the day of the run. And running 34.4km of hills and getting a forearm tatt have got to be harder than doing a fairly flat marathon, right?

I felt surprising OK the day after, which was Saturday – the tatt burn was causing me more pain than the run and on Sunday I felt normal enough to get some weight training in. I think/hope that's a sign that my body is now conditioned for silly distances and not just a weird one-off. 

From now on, I won’t be running as far. I'm not exactly tapering because my midweek runs are still getting harder (and will be for the next three or four weeks), but my long-distance weekend runs will be getting shorter.

I'll probably feel different as I get closer to race day but at after finishing a run that's only around 8km short of the full length and feeling like I've got more in the tank at the end, I'm pretty pumped for the race.

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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.