Tuesday, March 18, 2008


What a difference a week makes. Last Tuesday I set out to run to work, and got 0.75 miles down the road before I decided that my leg hurt too much, and I got the bus the rest of the way. This Tuesday I'm absolutely and completely filled with the belief that I can get GFA this year. It won't take a fluke, or for everything to go better than the plan, it will just take me not doing anything stupid between now and London.
I think this is the first time I've got to the taper feeling like I've done enough training, and that the best thing for me to do is to reduce the intensity and let my legs recover. In the past I've always felt like I should do one more long run, one more hard session, and I've struggled to persuade myself to taper properly. I remember feeling like this before my first half marathon. I knew that I'd done enough training, and I started to feel a lot more relaxed about it. I've never felt like this before a marathon though.
A lot of it comes down to my race on Sunday. During the week I was unsure whether I should run it or give my legs chance to recover, and before the race I changed my race plan from "attempt to run it at marathon pace" to "attempt to finish". My legs were hurting, and I knew that it was a hilly course so I wasn't keen on the prospect of running it. I got myself to the start line by telling myself it was a two lap course, so if necessary I could drop out at 10 miles. That's how confident I was.
But I did run it and, what's more, I ran it just slightly faster than 3:45 pace. Admittedly I struggled a bit towards the end, and in the marathon I'll have to keep that pace (although I could go slightly slower) going for another 6.2 miles, but in the marathon I'll be properly rested, my legs won't be as sore, and the route won't involve the sort of hills Spen did. (On that subject I'm more than a little pleased that despite most of my marathon running club mates running the East Hull 20 instead of the Spen 20 on the basis that Hull is much flatter than Spen, I managed to run the fastest 20 mile time of anyone from the club who did either of the races. Incidentally, the others were all men)
However, the race did remind me of the difference between a 20 miler and a marathon. They say that 20 miles is the half way point of a marathon, and I'm starting to believe it. Although my legs hurt after the race and yesterday morning until a swim loosened them up, this morning I ran just over 8 miles, and I've got a hilly 10 mile race planned for Friday. There is no way on earth I'd do that after a marathon despite it "only" being 6 miles longer. I know that as you train more you recover faster, and I have been able to run a bit in the week after a marathon, but no more than 3 or 4 miles, and certainly not with any intensity.
It's just under four weeks until the marathon now. I know that I've done the training, and I know I'm fast enough. All I need to do is to run at my normal standard on the day. I don't need to do anything exceptional, I just need to put everything I can already do together. It would be nice if the weather was on my side, as training over winter means you don't get any experience of running in the heat, but apart from that pretty much everything else is under control. I'm at the stage where I worry that doing too much more will do more harm than good, and as long as I do enough not to lose the training I've already done, I don't feel like I need to do a huge amount more.
That's a nice place to be in, a really nice place. I feel comfortable about what I need to do, and this time round, weather permitting, I feel sure that I can do it.


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