Thursday, February 28, 2013

Taper Week

Even if I hadn't started the taper a bit earlier than planned, by now it would be upon me. The run on Monday was easy again, easier even than Sunday. The only remarkable thing was that I pressed the "stop" button exactly 1 hour after starting, on the dot and not by design. I guess if you do enough one hour runs you'll eventually end up with one that is exactly one hour.

I awoke Tuesday with a slightly sore throat, very similar to a couple of weeks ago and because back then I had continued running without any issues I saw no reason to change this time. Good call, when I was running I could not feel any soreness in the throat and completely forgot about it. The workout I did was a set of half-mile repeats, just like last week, and since last week had gone well I wasn't too apprehensive this time round either.

With my former coach's warnings ringing in my ears to be taking it easy in training in order to be able to race well I cut the number of repeats down by one to five, but the target (2:50-3:00) and the rest (2 minutes) all remained the same. Nature provided a spectacular background as I ran my repeats back- and forwards on the Caragh Lake road with the moonset in one direction and sunrise in the other, though I could only admire that during the rest intervals, certainly not during the fast segments. It went even better than last week with slightly faster pace feeling a little bit easier at a slightly lower heart rate - just the kind of progress you want to see.

2:54 (HR 150), 2:54 (152), 2:51 (158), 2:51 (166), 2:51 (163)

Unfortunately, my werewolf genes came to the fore again that night as I was unable to get to sleep. I get that fairly regularly, and always at or close to Full Moon. It has nothing to do with light in our bedroom as we have perfectly good blackout curtains, but something is stopping me from falling asleep those nights, and staring at the ceiling until 3 am really doesn't do it for me. Thankfully the lack of sleep does not seem to affect me. After the previous day's intervals it was an easy day again, and the sore throat had cleared already. It was one of those effortlessly-floating-along-the-road kind of runs where everything comes so easily. The former coach has this axiom that he likes to throw at me at regular intervals:
"When you get toward peak shape your brain ignores fatigue, this is good for racing but bad for training".
Up to now I had always denied that I was in that state - workouts had left me tired and sore often enough to conclude that my brain was not ignoring fatigue, but now I think I might have indeed reached that state. And with Tralee less than 3 weeks away, that's exactly where I want to be.

With an eye on Sunday's race in Ballycotton I did another little workout this morning, namely a set of hill sprints in an attempt to sharpen up the legs. I did a few of those earlier in my training cycle on the same hill. The main difference this time round was that it is now much brighter in the morning and I could actually see the road I was running on, which does indeed have its advantages. I stopped once the sprints started feeling a little bit tough, which was pretty soon to be honest, but it was never meant to be an exhausting workout.

There will be more easy days, then Ballycotton, then recovery from that, followed by maybe one or two mellow workouts and next thing I'll be at the Tralee startline.
25 Feb
8 miles, 1:00:00, 7:30 pace, HR 135
26 Feb
7 miles, 50:21, 7:11 pace, HR 151
   5 x half mile in 2:54, 2:54, 2:51, 2:51, 2:51
27 Feb
8 miles, 58:33, 7:19 pace, HR 138
28 Feb
6+ miles, 47:48, 7:42 pace, HR 148
   hill sprints


  1. sounds like the peak is almost there!

    Have you decided which shoes you are wearing for Tralee?

    1. Yes, Nike Lunaracers, my usual racing shoes for everything between 5k and 50 miles!

  2. Nice looking shoes aswell.

    I'minute looking for a change although I do love the Inov8 Road-X series but they are just a bit too pricey nowadays.

    Hope the race at weekend goes well.

    Will be updating my blog with full race plans upto August tomorrow night, I have been lazy :)

  3. When trying to learn about the best taper strategy I came across the following article that talks about various studies in taper:

    The best approach looks to be keep dramatically cut back the mileage in the last week, and split your remaining runs between easy efforts and race pace efforts. The later are important to neuromuscular tuning, this is crucial to key the right amount of muscle tensions in your legs for the race.

    I've also read that using heat exposure in the last few weeks can help by improving ones adaptations for heat and at the same time giving a boost in blood volume, so you see benefits when you even run in cool conditions.

    Good luck at Ballycotton.

  4. Hope Ballycotton went well. Should be a good test of how you're going this close to the marathon.