Saturday, 28 March 2009

A slight bout of taperitis

A week from tomorrow is my marathon, so last week I started to taper a bit. Having done some good volume in the past few weeks -- 100km bike rides and 2+ hour runs -- it's been nice to stick to short and fast workouts instead this week. The weather helped me too; going from beautiful warm sunny spring to crappy rainy windy spring seriously curbed my enthusiasm for going outside to train. But fewer hours trained is fewer calories burned, so to stay nice and lean for the race I've had to fight the munchies a bit. I think I'm winning the battle though, as after yesterday's hard 17km run and pasta dinner, I denied myself the bread and chips (er, crisps) I was craving around 9pm and this morning was rewarded with 54.6kg on the scale. That's the first time I have been below 55kg since I moved to the UK, and hopefully I can keep up both the motivation to train hard and the willpower to eat better with results like that!

For the run yesterday, I did the same route I'd done last fall 2 weeks out from the Nice marathon: a 2.5km warm-up run to Richmond Park, a hard loop of the 11.7km outer path in the park, then the same 2.5km run home to cool down. In the fall I had run the loop clockwise (tailwind on the open flat, but ascending the steep hill) in just under 57 minutes. Yesterday in my super fast Asics Gel Banditos shoes and running counterclockwise (descending the steep hill but with a brutal headwind on the open flat), I managed 52:57! That's a 4:31/km pace, running on hard-packed dirt with 75m of elevation gain/loss, and it gave me a PB for 15km if the Garmin is to be believed. Needless to say, I was quite happy given that my last few longish runs have been somewhat painful and disheartening.

SportTracks has some cool plugins and one of them is the Map Overlay, which colours the track on the map to show different speeds, gradients, heart rates, etc. Ever the numbers and maps geek, I find it quite interesting to see where my pace slows down and speeds up relative to hills, headwinds and distance. Glad to see I finished strong in the last little uphill bit because by then I certainly wasn't feeling strong!

As for the marathon, I still haven't decided whether I should run the full distance or not, but I'm hoping that I feel good enough on the day to give it a go. I'll gauge it during my warmup and in the first few minutes of the race, and if I feel anything but completely rested and 100% ready to tackle 42.2km, I'll speed up and try to run a strong PB in the half instead.

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