Paula Radcliffe has revealed how attempts to end her athletics career at the London Marathon were almost derailed after suffering an injury while training in Kenya.
Radcliffe joined the British team for a training camp in February but picked up an Achilles problem in her historically troublesome left foot, which took six weeks to heal.
The 41-year-old will compete in her final race at the blue-ribbon event in the British athletics calendar on 26 April but admits she is "unfit and unprepared" for the race that will see her begin among the mass start for the first time.
"It's definitely looking a lot better now than it was three weeks ago," the three-time winner said. "It was going really well when I went out to Kenya with the British team.
"I didn't think I was [overtraining] I thought I was being really careful to not getting carried away but I did start thinking about what times I might be able to run and what times I might be able to do.
"I just tweaked my Achilles and I didn't think it was that big a deal at first and the actual tendon was fine but it took about six weeks to settle down.
"I've been able to run every day since the Easter weekend so not the ideal preparation and at least now I'm healthy, I am going in unfit and unprepared for a marathon but I am hoping my body can remain once it gets out there."
The Cheshire-born athlete set the world marathon record in 2003 of two hours 15 minutes and 25 seconds, which still stands and she departs the sport as British sport's finest long-distance runner.
Kenya duo Mary Keitany and Florence Kiplagat and Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia are the favourites for women's race but Radcliffe's course record will likely remain intact for another year.
"I don't have split times in my head," she added. "I just want to go and enjoy it but at the same time I want to feel like I've run the London Marathon hard and given it as good a shot as I can on the day.
"I want to finish with a smile on my face but I also want to feel like I've run it pretty decent. I won't be stopping all the way but I will savouring the atmosphere."