Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Blessed Taper

After six months of (quite) dedicated and (mostly) consistent training for the San Francisco Marathon, this week I have finally reached the blessed taper.  Those 27 weeks since January 3rd of gradually increasing mileage and diligently logging training sessions culminated in Saturday’s Last Long Run, a pleasing and relatively fast 20+ miler composed of consecutive 9 and 11 mile loops, briefly stopping off at home in between to enjoy my own personal aid station (wo-)manned by my long-suffering Crew Chief. Despite the heat, humidity and ever-present hills, which I had brutally decided to cover in the latter loop, I finished strong with a smile on my face and clicked off some pretty fast miles. Even accounting for the pit-stops, seemingly endless traffic lights and popping into a running shop to buy an energy gel, I managed to average 8:27 m/m, which, since you’re wondering, would equate to a 3:41 marathon were I able to sustain it for the last six miles.

Click to enlarge.
So now I’ve reached the taper, ready for the gentle cruise down to race day, focusing on stretching, hydrating, relaxing, sleeping and not running very much at all. Sounds great!

However, when still a little fuzzy in the post-run glow, I thought I’d better look up my plan for the taper as I don’t seem to remember what an optimum schedule would look like. I was aghast at what I discovered. Week one of the taper (this current week) is supposed to be 80% of my peak mileage. That means a 16 mile long run at the weekend and some pretty hefty outings on other days. Next week is 60% of the peak mileage, which still equates to a 12 mile long run – actually rather a long way in the real world. Sure, it’s a big reduction, but nothing like the walk in the park I had been picturing... In fact according to the plan I still have 70-80 miles to cover before race day, which is really quite a hefty distance. Sigh.

Then I made another, even more extraordinary discovery. I haven't actually left myself enough time to taper. Instead of leaving three weeks of training plus race week, I mistakenly have just left myself two weeks of training plus race week. Whoops.

But that’s OK. It’s less than three weeks to SF now, which surely means that my rest and relaxation period is right around the corner.


Because, like an arse, I have signed up for the Great North Run just seven weeks after ‘the race even marathoners fear’. Worse still, I seem to have set myself a ridiculous challenge and intend to run it barefoot in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society (FYI, if you haven’t already, now would be a good time to visit my justgiving page, make a donation and remind me why I agreed to this idea...). So it’s ten weeks until I can relax, right?


Two weeks after the GNR I am running the Loch Ness Marathon with my dear friend Mr Ben Nicholson. It will be rather fun, unless of course he’s in a hurry, in which case it might be quite difficult...

I’ve no idea what my training’s going to look like over the next twelve weeks, oddly there don’t appear to be many online training resources designed for people running two marathons and a barefoot half-marathon in the space of nine weeks. Perhaps I should corner the market and write my own? It’s unlikely to be a commercial success but maybe it will attract a cult following.

So 12 weeks. Just three short months and then I can relax properly, ease off the training, try to grow back some of the bits missing from my feet and generally attempt to restore myself to full working order. There’ll be no races in the calendar and I’ll be free to kick back and ignore the pestering of my running shoes. I definitely won’t be spontaneously signing up for anything else. No sir-ee. Not even one.


Happy running


2011 to date - miles: 741.32, parkruns: 6, races: 3, miles biked: 54.38, metres swum: 1225

P.S. I'm starting to panic a little bit.

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