Posts Tagged ‘Taper’

With Hamburg out of the way now, and my next marathon fast approaching (Killarney this Saturday 17th of May) it’s time to have a look at what I could do better. Just before Hamburg I listed the five things I’d done well in preparation for it, so now here’s the five things I did not so well:


  1. The taper – I was running really well in training, responding well to the extra stresses and mileage (I ran my best 20 miler the day after running a 10k PB) but the cut back in mileage seemed to dull me rather than freshen me up. I think I cut back too quickly – 75km to 37 to 28.5 – and apart from the Emo 8k and Naas Parkrun went way too easy.
  2. Marathon week – not enough sleep, not eating clean enough, still having a drink here and there. I should have lived like a sleep loving monk that week but didn’t, maybe because with the drastic cut in running I just wasn’t feeling like ‘an athlete’.
  3.  The night before the night before – I know that this is the night when you should really be getting your sleep in, but one of the considerations of combining a marathon with a weekend away, especially when you’re visiting or staying with friends, is the social aspect. Which in this case meant an absolutely fantastic*, though very healthy dinner, followed by numerous bottles of wine and a bed time in the region of 3am.
  4. One pace to rule them all – as I found to my detriment in a couple of my tune up races, I have no gears, no other pace and I wasn’t really used to hurting (in a short/sharp fashion anyway). Almost all of my running was at either ‘easy’ or ‘steady’ pace, no intervals, no reps, no threshold stuff, nothing. This is something I intend to rectify with at least one quality session per week on top of my long run, and over the summer race at least once every two weeks.
  5. Sleep in general – I’ve spent so much of my adult life as a night owl that going to bed early still feels unnatural, I feel like I’m missing out somehow. However, if I don’t get to bed by 22:00 then I don’t get up before 07:00 then I don’t run in the morning, and sometimes my schedule means I definitely need to run in the morning. Also if you don’t sleep enough you don’t recover enough. Both of those things combined mean that if I’m going to up my mileage more, and add more quality sessions, then I absolutely, positively have to get sufficient sleep.


*If you’re ever in Hamburg do check out Il Buco. Incredible restaurant, responsible for at least two of my top five ever meals.

Today was one of those days when everything just felt easy. Suspiciously easy almost. 20 miles clocked and it just felt fantastic. I probably went a bit too quick for a LSR (long slow run) but I just felt great. I was expecting to feel a bit tired after the K-Club 10k yesterday but I felt positively sprightly, right from the off.

Normally if I’m going for the long run by myself I’ll listen to a Joe Rogan podcast as it’s really the only chance I get to listen to a three hour podcast nowadays but an hour in and there wasn’t much more I could take about shamanic journeys, ayahuasca or forty year old man-childs so I went for some music instead. I stopped listening to music while running as I found it dictated mood or pace a little too much but after today I think I may reintroduce it on occasion. I stuck on Television – Marquee Moon (the album) as I was cutting across to Killenard  and as luck would have it Marquee Moon (the song) started just as I was starting up the hill on the way into Killenard, bringing memories of that hill and subsequent view in Clonakilty rushing back. The memories that came back weren’t just mental, everything that I was feeling in Clonakilty as I crested that hill came rushing back through me and I felt the most glorious mix of energy, elation, satisfaction, optimism and just general well being as I just flew up the hill.

I’ve ran this route loads of late with Paul and Mark and going up this hill I’m at best managing it, at worst dragging arse but today I’m laughing and skipping up it, having to tell myself to calm down and take it easy, there’s still another 20k to go. I really tried to keep the pace controlled and sedate but after a while I just thought “what the hell?” and ran as I felt. Running is meant to be fun, it’s meant to be enjoyable and not always about pace or time or mileage. This kind of day, where everything feels effortless, doesn’t come around too often so why not just enjoy it while I can?

I passed the point where two weeks ago I had to tell the lads to carry on without me while I shuffled along, today I was flying along, a minute a kilometre quicker and sprinting up hills just because I was feeling great (also because I was listening to Mastodon at this point).

At the 24k mark I called in home for some water and a gel (up to this point my only ‘fuel’ was a buttered coffee) and went back out for another 8k, expecting to slow down considerably. Except I didn’t. The pace remained the same, I kept feeling good and I could have, and would have liked to, kept going but sensible head time. I’m three weeks out from Hamburg marathon, I do not need to leave my race out here on the roads three weeks out, then spend the time I should be tapering just recovering. Nope, training is done now, the miles are clocked and what’s done is done. I was planning on doing the Sliabh Bloom half marathon on Easter Sunday but there’s no need now. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. Taper, rest, sleep, eat properly, hydrate.


Oh and obviously figure out what exactly I’m going to wear for the marathon.

I’m never usually at all nervous before any races but I have to admit I was heading into London to Brighton with a small amount of trepidation. My training had been going reasonably well, right up to the point where I started my three week taper period. Instead of doing the traditional taper I just stopped dead in my tracks, and aside from a 10k race in Portarlington I only went running one other time in the entire three weeks. On top of that was the fact that my peak week of training only saw me doing about 100km, and the longest run in that 33.5km. That should have been a regular week and my longest run should have been closer to 30 miles than 30km, but there’s nothing that could be done about it at this point.

It wasn’t the lack of consistent training that worried me really though, or even the lack of really long runs logged. No, what had me worried was the navigation aspect of the race, which I’d chosen to address by just sticking my head in the sand and ignoring completely. In place of any sort of navigational skills I had chosen to go with a far more cunning plan – run with people who know where they’re going. Naturally this meant that I was then obligated to stay with people who knew where they were going and run at their pace, but that was a risk I was willing (and had no choice but) to take.