Tapering!

Ok, last long run done on Sunday, and I have to say, I’ve had a narrow escape!

I started coming down with a cold the Sunday before (i.e. over a week ago), but I managed to do my workout (a progression run) on the day, even if I opted for the relative safety of the treadmill… On Monday and Tuesday it had become a full-blown feverish cold and I was worried a bit whether I’d be in a position to run on the weekend (as I’ve written before, some of my long runs have been a bit hit-and-miss, so I didn’t want to miss the last one), but thankfully my cold eased by Friday, so I was able to go on a gentle 10k run with Demi on Saturday and felt well enough to do my long run on the Sunday.

With a heavy heart, as I wasn’t 100% well, I opted for the treadmill again, as I didn’t particularly want to get stranded miles from home and have to make my way back in a drenched t-shirt in the wind. Apart from mind numbingly boring (even with an audiobook), the thing with treadmills is that they are a very inaccurate representation of the real thing and for that I have found them a false friend in the past. Still, they have their uses on occasions, and Sunday was one such.

It went ok, I’m pleased to say, the nutrition and hydration plan I’ve settled on (after the failed experiments with the Saltcaps of a couple of weeks ago) worked a treat, and I’m so happy I know what I’m doing on that front!

I once again adjusted the incline on the treadmill to simulate the inclines on the route. Yes, the hill (especially the long, middle one) is serious, but on a positive side, I felt that breaking down the route like that helped me very much mentally. In sort, I’ve broken the route down in 5 parts, each with its own theme (and target pace):

Athens terrain

  1. Start to 10km: This starts as a mild downhill (till about the loop around the Tomb of the battle of Marathon), so I intend to take it at a steady pace, but without getting carried away – there is still a long way to go!
  2. 10km to 15.5k: The first hill: slow down accordingly, try to keep a balance between remaining fresh (it’s still early in the race), but without sacrificing too much time. After all, this is followed by:
  3. 15.5k to 18.5k: A nice, fast, downhill section, but keep it steady: The aim here is not to shave time (what, maybe a minute? minute and a half?) off, but to recover from the previous hill and making sure I am fresh for:
  4. 18.5k to 30.5k: The ascent to Stauros! The 12km that will make the difference to my race, I think. In 2011, I ran this on average about 30” per km slower than my average total race time, so that is a useful rule of thumb as to how I should approach it. Just think of it as run in itself, and not the 3rd quarter of a full marathon!
  5. 30.5k to 42.195k: All downhill! Whether this is a good or bad thing will depend on the state of my knees by then, but mentally… it makes it so much easier to will yourself up the preceding hill knowing that at least the last section of the race is (in theory) the least challenging.

I also remember that once I had crested the top in 2011, the one thought that filled my mind was “there’s no way I’m not finishing this now!” That of course was my first marathon and I didn’t know what the last kilometers would feel like, but it’s a pleasant recollection and one I will be hanging on to! 🙂

So that’s it! Even if I feel a bit undertrained, I’m resisting the temptation for “one more” long run “to get it right”. Instead I’m sticking with my programme and running the Leicester half on Sunday as my last progression run and to make sure I’m comfortable with my race number and gel holder. I’m just grateful to have solved my hydration / nutrition quandry and to have booked my pre-race massage…

Not long to go now!

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