–ia. Noun suffix. Indicates names of disease, pathology, or abnormal conditions.
Marathonia refers to a constellation of mental and physical symptoms and conditions that appear in inflicted individuals during the 2-3 weeks preceding a marathon. Hypochondria, Insomnia, Amnesia, Paranoia, Hysteria, and Mania are just a few of the ias running (ha) rampant in tapering marathoners. Some people call this common condition Taper Tantrums (I first came across this awesome term in a fellow runner’s blog), Taper Madness, or simply the Marathon Crazies. Although not deadly, Marathonia can wreak havoc on a runner’s confidence and cause them to do things that may jeopardize the big race.
A Marathoniac obsesses about every bodily sensation, convinced a latent injury will develop into a full-fledged problem before race day. Every twinge, every itch, every ache or pain is a Potential Injury. They worry that each sniffle is one Kleenex away from pneumonia. They panic, fearing they are under-trained, ill-prepared, and unsuited to marathon running. They second guess every day of training – if only they had gone farther, faster, longer. They forget how to taper and go for a 42.2K long run 14 days before the race, just to reassure themselves that they can do it. They cram in last minute speed sessions and binge on fuel-providing carbohydrates. Those who do rest, as prescribed, fret that they are rapidly detraining and by race day will be completely incapable of running. They feel tired, sluggish, and lead-legged despite the extra time off. Or they feel fidgety and restless because they have no outlet for all the excess energy. They may be in endorphin withdrawal with the irrationality, irritability, moodiness, and short-temper of someone who just gave up a two-pack a day habit. They may gain weight due to the decreased mileage (and increased carbo-loading) and feel chubby and slow. Marathoniacs are often filled with self doubt. They are consumed with thoughts about The Marathon. They feel compelled to talk about The Marathon to everyone in their radius. They are at war with their mind and body, both of which seem to be conspiring to sabotage the very day for which they have trained for so intensely. Although some show immunity, most marathoners will eventually find themselves afflicted with at least one of the common symptoms of Marathonia.
The good news? The is a cure. The bad news? The cure is at the finish line.