Marathon training #4 – Tapering

In my last post I  reported on my maximum training point (28 km), but since then I’ve been ‘tapering’.

It seems that marathons are so exhausting that after a proper level of training it’s then a matter of ‘resting’ for nearly a month before the big day. I’ve found this principle quite different from my previous training for 10km or half-marathon when the maximum training is usually the week before the race.

Since my longest training run I’ve gradually reduced the ‘big’ run each week by about half an hour with my last run yesterday being about an hour. The good news was that an hour run these days seems fairly short and relatively easy.

I’ve been bugging everyone that I know who has run marathons for their advice and tips. Various useful things have been said but the one that everyone has mentioned is ‘don’t go too fast at the beginning’. I have a feeling that this is tougher than it sounds.

A couple of things I’ve heard recently I really like and aim to use. The first was from Ranaulph Fiennes on his ascent of Everest “tell yourself to ‘keep plodding’, the mountain never ends, just keep plodding, like a mantra”. Wise words. Another was from Andrea who said that half way in a marathon isn’t half way in effort. Treat 20 miles as half-way. I aim to keep both these things in mind.

Race plan
Considering this is my first marathon and it’s a bit of a journey into the unknown, I’ve found planning the race a bit tricky. As far as I can I’d like to take things fairly easy for at least the first 10 miles, maybe even up to half-way and then see how I feel.

I intend to have an energy gel every 5 miles (despite them tasting horrid) plus I’m going to walk through all of the water stations in an effort to actually drink the water. Even with walking I still found this tricky in the Hastings half-marathon but I think it’s worth a shot.

I realise now that we are only a week to go before the race that I’ve been incredibly imprecise with logging my run speeds and routes which is unusual for me. I generally always like to know my pace and distance, but this has been really hard for the marathon training. I’m now finding it really hard to know what sort of pace I should be doing and what time I should aiming for.

Time for wild predictions. Obviously my main goal is to finish. Secondly I really want to have got there without any significant amounts of walking. If I do manage to run all the way, then I should definitely be under 5 hours and under 4 hours 30 mins should be possible.

I’m feeling really nervous. I’ve been running regularly for years and taken part in numerous 10km and 21km races, but this is a real leap into the unknown and I’ve no idea what to expect. I’ve heard a lot about ‘the wall’ but when I’ve actually asked people about it their stories are all different. I guess I’ll be finding my own.

It’ll be an adventure and I dare say emotional.

One thought on “Marathon training #4 – Tapering

  1. I hope you have a good run next week. Although I have very little marathon experience (just the one), I have to agree with Andrea. 20 miles is half way!

    As for the wall, I think that provided you’ve eaten plenty of carbs in the few days beforehand, are well hydrated and drink enough on the day (and those ‘horrid’ gels) the ‘wall’ shouldn’t be an issue. For me that wasn’t the problem, its just that my legs were killing me for the last three miles.

    Anyway, back to the positives, you’ve trained for this, you’ve not part of the ‘I want to do a marathon and I’ve never run before’ camp and I think you’ve got the right mindframe. Yes, you’ll be nervous at the start, but if you feel you’ve trained and rested well just take it easy and try to enjoy the occasion. You can chase faster times next time, just enjoy it for now.

    Good luck.

    PS. Yeah, don’t go too fast at the start. Don’t waste energy weaving through slower runners in front. If you’re stuck behind people this will probably help you later on in the race when you’re not bunched up and need to get those energy reserves to carry you to the finish.

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