Let the taper commence! Although this week the distances did start to cut back, because I have been doing such high mileage the week still involved over 70 miles of running. Things were definitely getting easier though, with just one – and indeed the final – double and only 12 miles midweek. The legs felt good overall, and all the runs ticked by without any major issues. My “heart beats per mile” efficiency went up slightly, but I think that’s probably due to the reduced mileage, and more mileage (percentage wise at least) at recovery pace.
On Tuesday I had another 5x600m track session, and again instead of doing this at 5K pace I blasted off the reps a bit faster. I wasn’t quite as consistent as last time, but the average pace was a touch faster at 5:35/mi, and it felt nice to put in some speedier efforts again. The legs felt fine the next day on my final midweek medium-long run, so I feel comfortable I wasn’t wrong to do the intervals faster than prescribed.
At the weekend it was off down to Brighton for a final marathon-pace practice at the Bright10 10 mile race. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t ideal, and although we avoided the worst of the rain it was quite breezy. Frustratingly, the wind also seemed to change direction so it was against us both on the way out towards Brighton Marina, and on the way back towards Hove Lawns. Despite this though, I held a steady pace averaging 6:59/mi, all within marathon HR range and while feeling comfortable.
The HR/effort was a touch higher than I’d have ideally liked at times, but when you factor in the wind, I’m pretty sure I’d have been cruising super-comfortably if the weather was better. So overall pretty pleased with the effort. The idea of running this pace for a further 16 miles still seems a little daunting, but I suppose I had done my final 24 mile long run, and indeed a 90 mile week, 7 days earlier so my legs are still far from fresh. I think all my training definitely points to a sub-3:05 time being achievable if everything comes together on the day, I’ve just got to trust the taper and make sure I keep the faith when things get tough towards the end of the marathon.
Next week sees a further cutback to just 50 miles, with only the Sunday run making it in to double-digits. I have been filling the extra time I have during taper making plans for next year. Brighton Marathon is my big target for the spring, and I’m considering stepping up to the “above 85 miles” Pfitzinger plan that peaks at around 105 miles. I’ve coped well with the 70-85 mile plan, even pushing the mileage to 90 miles for a few of the weeks, and haven’t felt overly tired at any point, so I think I am ready to at least try stepping up. I can always drop back the mileage a bit, by removing the doubles, if I do find the plan a step too far.
Next autumn I think I’m going to have a break from the marathon, and instead work on my 10K and half-marathon times. I should have space for a 8 week 10K build-up after Brighton. After that I’ve signed up for a 90 mile cycling sportive in Cardiff which will be something a bit different, and give the legs a change from running. After a few weeks either side of that, I can then get stuck in to a 12 week half-marathon plan, targeting an autumn half – probably Oxford and Manchester depending on where the dates lie. I can also have a proper go at a 10 mile race again – after racing my first one last year, the only other two have been ran as marathon practice, so my first one remains my fastest!
Two weeks to go. All the hard work is done now really, just got to make it to the Frankfurt start line illness and injury free now. I have already stocked up on anti-bacterial hand-wash…!