Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Into the taper

This week marks the beginning of that rather strange period: the taper.  There's still 19 days to go until Paris but the mileage will steadily decline as I walk the fine line between maximising rest/recovery and losing fitness.

I feel in good nick.  Still haven't missed a run (though one was cut short), but am still about 10% ahead of mileage targets and some 260 miles ahead of this point in last year's programme.

In terms of long runs, I peaked at 23.15 miles and have done 7 runs of 20 miles plus.

Since the last post the speed side has come together through weekly intervals sessions, trying to do part of long runs at lactate threshold pace and even a couple of races.

First up I did the Roundhay Parkrun 5k.  Hilly, with a net ascent, I finished in 21:36 and didn't feel I'd gone all out.  That was a small confidence boost as it fitted with marathon goals and I was told that course was about a minute slower than flatter ones.

That gave me the confidence to make my 20 miler a progression run 4 Sundays ago and as that went OK the following week I planned to run 5 miles at 8:30 per mile followed by 15 at 7:50.  In the event that turned out to be 5 miles at 8:15 and 15 at 7:34 a mile.  Huge confidence boost. 

Last Sunday was similar with 4 miles at 8:04 followed by 16 at 7:41 pace, though by the end of it I felt done in - which I realised later was dehydration in this unseasonably warm March.

In between those runs I ran the St Annes 10 mile road race in Lancashire.  That proved to be another huge boost to the confidence.  Remember that a few weeks ago running a few miles at 7:30 pace seemed to have me needing rest breaks, but as the previous weeks had gone so well I decided to run at 7 minutes 18 seconds a mile with half an eye on 7:12 (which would get me 1hr 12).

The day was warm and sunny and the flat out and back course had a strongish breeze to run into on the way back.  I made a schoolboy error and ran the first mile way too fast at well under 7 minute mile pace but as it felt reasonable I tried to keep to a pace a shade under 7 minutes and by half way I was still under that pace.  Predictably the wind and fast start took its toll on the way back but I was passed only once at 5.5 miles but then passed 8/10, so slowed less than those around me.  By the finish I'd ran at 7:04 pace and smashed my PB with 1:10:59.

The race and the two 'marathon pace' long runs either side of it have allowed me to firm up my Paris plans.  I'm intending to run at 7:45 a mile and review again at 18/20 miles.  That's 3hrs 23 pace but I'm realistic enough to accept there will be some slowing down in the last 6.2 miles so my 'Gold' target is actually 3 hrs 25, silver sub 3:30 and bronze a new PB for anything below 3:38:51.

Weight wise I'm still where I was before at half a pound over 12 stone.  I'd like to use the first 2 taper weeks to get down to 11st 9lb if possible as that would put me at the same weight as last year's race.  As the training demands fall I hope I can spare some focus to watching diet a bit more closely and consistently.

I can't praise the Pfitzinger & Douglas plan enough.  It all comes together nicely but most of all the varied intensities get you through without injury and allow you to get maximum benefit from the tougher training sessions.  If anyone wants me to explain more - let me know!

Only fear is the weather.  Current weather conditions are so like both last year and 2007, each of which were uncomfortably hot.  Still, nothing I can do about it and hopefully if it is the same that's where the silver and bronze targets will come into play.

I've also set my targets for after Paris:  I've entered the Amsterdam marathon on October 21st and, if Paris goes well and the post race recovery weeks reveal no injuries, I'll follow the 55-70 miles a week plan and see if I can get anywhere near 3:15.


Alison said...

Rob! This is so great to read! Not only great to see you back, but also back with such positive news :-)

Hope you manage to meet your diet goals over the next few weeks. That'd be a perfect end to what sounds like a pretty perfect training cycle. Remember that the taper is about psychological rest as well as physical though. Don't put yourself under too much pressure.

Looking forward to more taper tales, and the countdown to your race report!

Maria said...

What a positive post- it sounds like your training has gone really well. I think in the taper you feel like you lose fitness but in reality you don't (well unless you tapered for over a month or something). Good stuff.

~Jessica~ said...

Well, those are some mighty impressive runs, Mister.

You might be heavier than you were last year, but you're streets ahead in terms of training...or so it seems to me. Even with the heat I know you can kick my PRs arse - go on, beat 3:33 and then you can show where hard work and dedicated planning gets you as opposed to my 'run till you drop' training plan. I don't plan on marketing that philosophy, by the way ;)


Maria said...

Are you doing Paris this weekend? If so, good luck, and I hope that the weather is not too hot.
Tony sums it up much better than me.

Running Rob said...

Haha - I saw that linked from marathon talk.

Very, very apt.