Yesterday evening, as the sun went down over Oranmore throwing a beautiful orange hue over cow-filled fields, I finished my 22.5km run - the last long run of my Marathon plan. Its 2 weeks to my first marathon. Where the hell has the last 10 weeks gone? I have followed my plan religiously (moving runs a day or two here and there to accommodate life which inevitably gets in the way) and here I am standing at the fringe of my first Marathon Taper.
My marathon plan
The primary aim of a taper is "to minimize accumulated fatigue, rather than to attain additional physiological adaptations or fitness gains". I am following a checklist as set out on Runners World (here) which is going to guide me right up to the race day in two weeks time. I have already trusted the plan this far so who am I not to trust the taper... Here is what it says:
- Your mileage should be 1/2 to 2/3s the amount you ran during your highest milage
- Almost all runs should be slow (90s-120s slower than marathon goal pace)
- Weekday short runs should not exceed 4 miles (6.4km)
- Weekend long run should be 8-10 miles (13-16km) max
- Set multiple time goals so you won't finish the race "empty handed"
e.g. Fantastic, Really Good and Good
- Set general (non-time) goals
- Prepare for the race morning - How you'll get there, where you'll park, how early you want to get there, what you'll wear?
- Check the course map and study it
- Keep Calories coming in as usual - your body still needs to repair tissue damaged during milage built-up.
- Even though you are running less, resist the temptation to cut way back on fat. Fat reserves postpone or prevent race-day collision with "the wall"
- Eat foods high in unsaturated fat such as nuts or fish.
- If weight-lifting, stop
In terms of training, my plan follows that exactly what is specified above. This week I have 38km to clock up versus the 62km I was doing two weeks ago. My weekday runs are all 6km and my planned weekend run is 13km. All in all, the only thing I have to be aware of there is just to keep my runs slower than Marathon Pace. As for Mental Prep, I need to do some work on my time and non-time goals. While I have times in mind but I need to sit down and check how realistic they are before I commit them to this blog. Obviously I'd love to say 'I'll run it in 3 hours' but that really isn't realistic. I promise I'll post them as soon as I have decided what I want to set as my target.
Finally (and most scarily) are the Nutritional Needs. This is where I think I am going to have the biggest problem. In training for the Marathon, I have let my nutrition slip but have been getting away with it thanks to the amount of time I have spent running. A biscuit here, a treat there. Individually they weren't impacting on me as I knew say at coffee break while I was enjoying a Toffeepop that I was heading off out for a 10km run as soon as I got home from work. Now however, I think I am going to have to be careful for the next two weeks not to splurge (which I already feel I have been doing).
I am dreading tomorrow's WW weigh-in, purely because I know I have been a pup all week. I have been dipping in and out of the fridge/press on a regular basis under the presumption "Sure amn't I training for a marathon". And while the argument mentioned in the link I posted above says 'This is no time to diet' - I know I have been bending that rule just a little bit too much in my favour. There is a difference between the fats obtained in Haagen Daas versus say a Tuna Pasta.
Either way, here I am in the Taper Zone. I've said in a previous post before about time passing, and how it will pass regardless of what you do with it. Again I am reminded of how true this statement is. I've put in the hours pounding the roads around Galway. I've stuck to the plan. I've run even when all I have wanted to do was sit curled up on the couch. Something tells me this could be a long two weeks up to the Marathon - but I'm excited.