Saturday, 30 April 2011

Ante Belfast

Off to Belfast tomorrow morning. First stop will be to the city hall to collect the race number and check out the expo. I still have not settled on a definite race plan. Originally I had harboured thoughts of going for sub 02:55 but I think that I am just not quite at that level yet. Consequently, my current thinking is to aim for 06:40 splits to mile fourteen, which will take me to the end of a long gentle gradient from mile seven. Thereafter I will let the next two miles, which give away all the elevation gain in less than two miles, speed up to the low 06:30s and then assess how I feel about pushing on in the final ten miles and whether sub 02:55 is possible.
In short, if I go sub 02:55 I expect to run a healthy positive split; if not, I hope to run an even paced race and come away with a PB at worst. Some might consider this overly cautious but the marathon does not reward zealotry very often and you cannot compensate for an unrealistically ambitious race plan by going out and running another marathon in two weeks.

Training summary: In the fourteen weeks before my three week taper I averaged fifty-six mile weeks. Every week had a marathon paced run, beginning with runs of ten miles with six at projected marathon pace and peaking at fourteen mile runs with ten at marathon pace. The first seven weeks also had interval sessions of 5x1k at 10k to 5k pace and tempo runs of 2x3 miles at half marathon pace with a two mile warm up and cool down and one mile recovery between sets. The remainder of the week was a long slow run and three recover runs and one day of complete rest.

The weather for Monday looks pretty good so far, the blemish on this outlook being a stiff easterly breeze of 13-16 mph. Thankfully the majority of the course is a north-south loop and the longest we will be consistently travelling east is the first three to four miles, so I am hopeful the wind will not adversely affect strategy or pace.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The taper

I have never had a very clear approach to tapering and generally reduce my mileage significantly in each of the three taper weeks on an ad hoc basis. The first taper week still registered fifty miles and I retained both tempo and marathon paced run.

12 April: nine miles with 2x2 at tempo pace of 06:12 minute/miles. Average HR for the tempo miles was 162.

15 April: ten miles with six at PMP with average mile splits of 06:31 with an average HR of 162.

The second week reduced to thirty miles and by the end of this week I felt significantly more energised. Notwithstanding the reduced mileage I aimed to maintain a similar proportion of intensity and quality sessions to that of a full week. Consequently, the following sessions took place

19 April: seven miles with three tempo miles at an average pace of 06:25 and average HR of 166.

21 April: Nine miles with five MP (marathon pace) miles at 06:41 and average HR of 161.

This was the last significant marathon paced session of this training cycle and I decided it would be good to reduce the pace a little to see what it felt like and I was a little disappointed; perhaps it was the early morning nature of the run or 'taper madness' but it felt a little more uncomfortable than I would have liked; maybe this was my 'crap' taper run. I don't have an answer for this, I think it is primarily a psychological thing, but almost everyone has a bad taper run, where they doubt their own training and ability to run race pace for 26.2. It is at this point that I am hoping the experience of running six previous marathons and experiencing similar doubts will allow me to largely dismiss them.

In other news the fastest run marathon ever took place in Boston, but does not qualify as a world record!

Watch more video of 2011 Boston Marathon on

Monday, 11 April 2011

Approach to taper

Training of late has been very consistent and regular, such that I think for further adaptations to occur I would need to alter the workouts. However, it's now taper time, so that can wait for the next training cycle!

29 March : Ten miles with six at tempo pace. Tempo paced mile average splits of 06:21 with an average HR of 166.

1 April: Windy today! Thirteen miles with ten at projected marathon pace (PMP); PMP average mile splits of 06:46 with an average PMP miles HR of 164. A bit high - worked a little too hard against the wind.

5 April: Eleven miles with six at tempo pace. Average tempo pace mile split of 06:12 and average HR of 166.

8 April: Fourteen miles with ten at PMP. Average PMP mile splits of 06:35 and an average HR of 162. Quite a stiff breeze when moving east.

This week the taper begins, and not a day too soon; I am beginning to feel tired at the beginning of runs, nevermind at the end and think it's definitely time that the affect of recent weeks' training are fully absorbed, which I hope is what the taper will achieve.