Taper Week #2 Review

Week 2 of my 3 weeks of tapering done and my countdown is into single figures! This week was all about dropping some mileage off whilst maintaining the intensity levels I’ve become accustomed to.

Before I go on to the runs, here’s a quick summary of my state of mind and body this week:

Legs and general running tackle. For reasons I do not understand, I arrived at the club on Tuesday with what were quite painful calves. They were sore to the touch but most of all it was as if they had a deep ache, more so than after even my longest of runs. Such was the pain, I compared it to how my left calf felt last year just before it tore and set me out of action for 6 weeks. They were still tender on Thursday, albeit not as much, but by Saturday they were almost completely fine. The pain was only when I got up on my toes and I didn’t feel any discomfort during my training runs. What’s going on?! The best theory I have been able to come up with is that it is simply fatigue and/or the training that is somehow ‘coming out’ now that I’m tapering. I don’t know if muscles can do that or if it’s normal, but it’s the best theory I can manage! The other niggles and pains I’ve had have miraculously gone too. I was getting concerned about my knee pain but it’s now as if it never existed. How strange!

Blisters. If you’ve been following my blog over the last 15 weeks you’ll know that bilsters are something that have plagued me ever since I started running. As my training increased towards the beginning of my schedule, so did my blisters to the point where I’d get them after 2 or 3 miles. For a while I was convinced that they were to be my Achilles Heel but I can now safely and thankfully say they are not going to be an issue. They’ve not completely gone, but amazingly they are no longer a concern. The only thing I can attribute the change to is the 3 massage sessions I’ve had leading up to this point – money well spent without a shadow of a doubt. I would recommend having a good massage to anyone with any form of tightness, aches, pains or other running-induced ailment. I am well and truly a convert and once the marathon is over I plan to keep them up every couple of months at least. Fantastic.

Weight. I got weighed this morning. 11st6lb. Over my training I’ve only lost 6lb, most of which have been over the last 2 or 3 weeks. I’ve lost fat and I actually look like a runner now. I noticed only this morning how my legs have become packed with muscle and I can see the fibres beneath my skin function as I move. For an ex-16st fatbody that is quite something!! I feel fit and more so than any other time in my entire life I look fit. It’s crept up on me somehow but boom – there it is! I look like I can do this!

Head. I have come to realise something significant this week which has influenced my attitude towards the race:

The only person who is putting pressure on me…is me!

I massively value competence and it drives me to be a perfectionist in everything I do (not a surprise to anyone who even half knows me!). I want to do so well and turn in a performance to be proud of but that means more than just getting round. Don’t get me wrong – just getting round will be a massive achievement but in my world this is just not enough!! This underlying drive for perfection means a huge amount of self-generated pressure as I know even if I finish in 3:40 there’ll be a part of me disappointed that I didn’t go faster. It’s a bit of a curse, if I’m honest! The good news is that I know myself well enough to recognise this and as an antidote I’m willing to suppress my characteristically high standards and instead trust my training, let my legs, not my head, do the running and enjoy the experience! It’s going to be a memory that stays with me for the rest of my life so I’m gonna make sure it’s a bloody happy one and not beat myself up for any reason. It will be what it will be. And it will be great! 😉

That’s enough of that. Now on to the week that was:

Tuesday’s session was a shorter but faster run of 5.5 miles at at sub-07:30 pace (the exact time/pace I can’t say as it was one of those rare runs where I had not got my GPS watch with me due to its battery being flat but it felt fast and sustained compared to our familiar 08:00/mile sessions). It was great to clear out the cobwebs and get the legs and lungs moving. It also felt very odd to only do a “short” run – we seemed to be back at the club in no time. I remember when 6 miles felt like running to the moon…

Thursday was a case of shortening the usual 10 mile session to 7 miles averaging 08:40/mile which is just over my marathon race pace. Strangely, two of us both said that we felt a noticeable change in how we felt at the 5 mile mark; indicating to us that we were just settling into the pace. The run felt comfortable and again very short compared to what I have been used to. As we finished off and entered the club grounds my thoughts were on setting off to go round again. And again. And 5 miles on top of that to finish off…

So on to today (Saturday) and the last double-digit run before the big day joined by fellow club-runner Jayne. I wanted to make sure that in my final week of tapering I had as much chance to recover as fully as possible, so I settled for a 10.5 mile route on Saturday rather than Sunday at an average pace of 09:00/mile. The difference between this run and those of other weekends is that we had to constantly hold back and prevent my speed from increasing. We weren’t successful all the time, mind, and even after 10 miles we found ourselves trotting along at 08:15 pace quite comfortably. I think that is a really good sign.

———-

Things down at the club have been rather disrupted over the last month or so. Several of my clubmates are running Hull Marathon tomorrow and so have been a week in front of me and my schedule. Similarly there are others running in the London Marathon a week after mine, including Mandy – my running partner for the best part of the last 16 weeks. As my final week arrives she is entering week#2 of her taper, so our paths must temporarily part from now on. That alone is quite odd. In Paris I’ll be joined by club members Keith and his wife Linda, marathon veterans who will once again be running Paris and then London the week after. Now that’s hardcore. For some the wait is over – for others, including me, it’s almost over. It all comes down to this as I enter my final week of tapering this is where it gets very real.

The week ahead:

Tuesday: 5 miles with some short speed bursts.

Wednesday: My final, pre-race massage. I cannot wait for this! I’ll be as loose as a loose thing when I emerge from the treatment room and ready for action! Physically it’s effects are like gold dust. Mentally it’s even more valuable! I’m so glad I booked in for this session just before the race.

Thursday: 5 miles steady. The club organises a 5-mile race every year which happens to fall on the same day this time round. A huge part of me wants to enter but I’m resisting the temptation (I know I’ll get drawn into running it too fast) and instead offering my services marshalling. It’ll be a good opportunity for me to take some photos too – something I don’t usually get the chance to do as I normally compete.

…And that’s it!! I may do a couple of miles once we find our bearings in Paris on Saturday but it’ll be nothing strenuous.

Sunday’s long-run is looming and it’s massive. We fly out to Paris on Saturday morning so from now on I’ll go mobile on my blogging so that I can post on the fly, as it were. Look out for posts through the week and a regular stream once the weekend arrives.

My focus this week is drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep. Those are the two most pro-active measures I can take now.

Here it comes…MY FINAL WEEK!!!

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!!

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