Thursday, 24 March 2011

Has Spring Sprung?

Or, to give an alternative title: Taper Madness Part II.

Do you remember 4 years ago when the media made a huge fuss over temperatures at the London Marathon reaching as high as 23c, intimating that a marathon in these temperatures would be a super human challenge? Well, a week earlier I'd done my first marathon in Paris and the temperature hit 32c. It wasn't nice.

Two years ago I spent the final 3 weeks frantically checking a variety of weather forecasts, and rode a roller coaster of hope and fear as a result. Some days the forecast might be for 8c and drizzle, the very next day it would change to 23c and sun only to change again the day after. Unsurprisingly there was only any consistency in the forecast in the 2-3 days before, and the temperature on the day reached about 21c.

This year I'm a little more chilled about it. I can't alter the weather, all I can do is adapt my plans accordingly - especially around nutrition and hydration - and have the expectation of 17/18c.

To that end, its been good to get in a couple of runs this week at 15/16c. The current local forecast says the weather will change for the weekend but whether that will be a temporary blip or a signal of a return to the seasonal norm I don't know.

Seeing sudden growth in previously winter dormant trees and plants and feeling the sun on my skin is certainly a psychological boost so, obviously I'd like it to continue. Equally, the ability to get some more runs in at warmer temperatures might serve as acclimatisation in case the Paris temperature is high. However, a sustained period of good weather here probably means a sustained period of even warmer weather in Paris leading up to and including the race.

Yesterday's warm weather run was mixed intervals.

I opted to cut the warm up and cool down miles a bit, partly because I don't feel I really need them, and partly to reduce the week's training volume a little. I did 0.65 before and 0.2 after, so chopped out 1.15 miles.

Results of the intervals were (targets in brackets):

3k @ 7:18 pace (7:30)
2k @ 7:02 pace (7:08)
1k @ 6:37 pace (6:53)
0.8k @ 6:24 pace (6:40)

It was hard work but quite enjoyable.

I later checked these against the performance tables in 'Brain Training for Runners'. These tables give target paces for training, and according to the book a runner could move up 4-6 levels over 24 weeks. I possibly started one level too high and have only officially moved up one level since but these indicate a further two, as would my typical run times. That doesn't mean I'll alter what I'm doing at this late stage but it does give another confidence boost as the lower levels equate to a correspondingly lower potential marathon time - and therefore make my target seem all the more achievable.


Maria said...

Good idea to cut back a bit- in my book last night I read a bit about tapering and the quote was to the effect- it is better to be 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained when you hit the start line. So trust in the taper basically.
I am loving this spring weather- I think it is meant to get cooler but I am enjoying it while it lasts!

Alison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison said...

(I posted in a quote from a different blog, so deleted it and started again. C&V fail!)

"However, a sustained period of good weather here probably means a sustained period of even warmer weather in Paris leading up to and including the race."

So basically you can't win with the weather?

Stop thinking about it!

Great confidence boost from the intervals though. And I love Maria's titbit of wisdom.

(ps -- my word verification is "spings" -- so close!)

~Jessica~ said...

The spring weather is gorgeous from a selfish point of view because I'm out there just as the sun rises, so the temperatures aren't too terribly hot.

But I agree with Alsion: trust in your taper, your instincts, your ability and stop agonising over every facet of the race! What will be will be: WE all know you're going to smash your target time and you need to believe it yourself. I may be a long playing record on this but it's something you need to hear!


Laura said...

Also loving Maria's wisdom! Trust your training :-)

Running Rob said...

Thank you all.

I'm honestly not agonsising over anything - I feel the best prepared and consequently most chilled of any marathon, but, I like to feel as prepared as possible nad have contingencies. Plus I like to get as much reinforcement as possible so (Jess) may the needle stay stuck.