Tuesday, July 01, 2014

July Already!

Well, there certainly has been plenty of talk on the usual running websites about the Waterford marathon and its shortcomings. The organisers are keeping a rather low profile all of a sudden, which is a shame. In a way, I do feel sorry for them - they clearly put a lot of work into the organisation and got just about every little detail right, but obviously took their eye off the big things and forgot to get the single most important item right.

Personally, I was probably the least affected marathon runner of the field. I was only using this as a training run and I got exactly that. Another 2 minutes of running would not have made any difference. It still counts as a marathon in my list, but I sure am glad that it was not a PB run.

Recovery has been going remarkably well. Only 2 days after the marathon I could no longer tell by the feeling in the legs that I had run a marathon, it just felt like I usually do the day after a normal long run. As such I am reasonably confident that I did not do myself any harm by leaving my Belfast race out on the roads in Waterford by running too fast.

Which brings me to the next point. At the time of writing Belfast is only 17 days away. Usually I'd have been counting down the days for ages by now, becoming increasingly impatient like a little kid before Christmas. This year, however, I always kept focusing on the next training race and since they kept coming thick and fast there was always something big coming in the very near future. I was always either recovering from the previous run or getting ready for the next one, which left no opportunity for impatience.

By now I'm getting the details for Belfast sorted. I do have a crew and I do have a race plan. Last time I had great success with my strategy of walking 5 minutes every half hour right from the start. I thought long and hard about this but despite the staggering success this strategy has brought me, this time round I will try and run as much as possible and only revert to walking once I can no longer run. I am definitely taking a risk here, abandoning a highly successful strategy, but at the very least I want to see how the other plan will work out. I know I'm in great shape and capable of running for many hours without break, even if I don't know how things will differ when running through the night.

I guess I am officially tapering now, but since this week was always going to be reasonably easy after Saturday's marathon, that's hardly noticeable. I still need to get my head round it, no more 100 mile weeks, probably no more double days, what am I going to do all day? I might even start fixing things in the house (easy now!).

29 Jun
5 miles, 42:59, 8:36 pace, HR 131
30 Jun
5+ miles, 40:04, 7:56 pace, HR 134
1 Jul
5+ miles, 38:58, 7:43 pace, HR 139


  1. I'm on taper for my first marathon this weekend.. keep on feeling like I should be doing more.....

  2. I was wondering whether you'd stick with the run/walk strategy. At the average pace you are capable of it's really touch and go whether it's worth walking. The main benefit would be to just use different muscle groups and allow others to rest. If you are expecting to need to walk then it would probably be best to build this walking into throughout the race, if feel it's likely that you can keep running for 24 hours then you might as well go for a pure running strategy.

    One element that has been missing from your training so far has been practising race pace. I'm guess you aren't going to be doing 8 min/mile for 24 hours so will need to run substantially slower than you do on even your recovery runs.

    I don't know what your target time is, but I'm guessing your average pace is going to be around 10 min/mile pace. Whatever this target pace is it'd be good to start practising it to make sure you can automatically get into the groove on race day and run efficiently and relaxed.

    For my West Highland Way training I took this approach of practising race pace and I feel it really helped on the day. All my recovery runs and long runs I kept down to around race pace, it felt slow and overly deliberate initially but eventually in training the miles just ticked by nice and relaxed without stress. One race day it was easy to just get into this groove.

    1. Robert, the reason I did not practise running 10-minute pace is because running 10-minute pace in a training run and running 10-minute pace after 15 hours of running are 2 entirely unrelated things.

      In my experience doing 10-minute miles while you're fresh does not prepare you for the time when you're running as hard a you can yet can't move faster than 10-minutes pace because your legs are shot.

    2. I strongly disagree and am concerned that you could be throwing away a key part of final preparation.

      It's the running economy and relaxation when running at 10 min/miles is important to develop. If you don't practice it the gait you need to 10 min/miles will feel awkward and inefficient.

      As you fatigue of course the gait can deteriorate, but there is a great deal more in common between 10 min/mile when fresh and 10 min/mile when fatigued than 8 min/mile when fresh and 10 min/mile when fatigued.

      You need this race pace specific preparation so to make sure that the body (muscle memory/motor programming) knows how to move most efficiently at the pace you'll be racing at. The more efficiently you move the less fatigue you will experience, the less energy you'll use and the less you'll be stressing your body in ways that it isn't used to.

      At least half your runs from now on need to be a race pace and in the final week almost all runs should be at race pace. You need to tune everything in to what you'll be doing on race day.

  3. At least you are getting the weather to run everyday .. we've had an enforced 3-day running break as the heat index hit 40C ! It comes exactly four months after our last weather break when it was below -30C .. oh the joys of running in Quebec ! All the best in Belfast. Jojo

  4. I'd agree with you on the 10 min pace Thomas (although admitidly I'm no expert on pace) I was supposed to be the 4:30 pacer in Waterford at one stage but found the 10 min pace ridiculously slow on fresh legs ( even after portumna) what pace to do? I fear I may be favouring the duracell bunny approach on the day in Belfast. Feel free to give out to me on the day :-) hopefully I won't do anything too crazy....great to hear your recovering well. This race will go well for you after the great training you've approached it with.