Taper Thoughts

I am racing the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon THIS WEEKEND! Surprise!

I have been toying back and forth with the idea of quitting blog life (and I actually did for a while), but at least for now, I am going to do another post or two. I have an overdue Turkey Trot recap to write! I wrote a post at the beginning of this training cycle about “All the Small Things” that I planned to do this training cycle. I’m happy to report that, for the most part, the small things seem to have come together to make a big difference! In the above-referenced post, I wrote, “I am not going to be making drastic improvements. I am fighting for every second of improvement at this point.”

Cue Chandler Bing voice, “Could I have been any more wrong?” Fighting for every second is what I had been doing for years (years!) and that turned into taking minutes (minutes!) off of my 5K, 10K and half marathon times over the course of one training cycle. It should also be noted that I have trained at a fairly high level for many years and there is no way that this training cycle would’ve come together like it did had it not been for the solid foundation that I developed over the last 3 or 4 years (I didn’t run many PRs during those years, my fitness base continued to improve along the way).

I couldn’t be happier with how this training cycle has gone down. Being the analytical person that I am, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect and jot down a few thoughts about this training cycle. Granted a few thoughts will likely become a very long post. You’ve been warned.

What happened you ask? You didn’t ask? Well, you are reading this post so I’ll just assume that you are somewhat curious. I changed up a good bit of training stimuli this cycle. I ran A LOT less and A LOT slower than I used to run. While this seems counterintuitive, it also seems to working for me (everyone is different!). I averaged 55-60 miles per week this training cycle, whereas in past marathon training cycles, I averaged closer to 75-80 miles per week. I also did zero doubles this training cycle, whereas I used to do two or three days of two runs per day each week. The longest I have run consecutively is 16 miles. I did 16 twice and 17 once, but the 17 mile day was the day of the half marathon, so there were some breaks in between the warm up, cool down, etc. I typically have gone up to 24 miles during previous training cycles (and even did a marathon last year as a training run during my goal race build up … I do NOT recommend that).

My legs feel so much fresher this training cycle and in general, I have a lot more energy. Granted, I haven’t actually raced the marathon yet, so we’ll see how the decreased mileage and long run translates come race day.

This specific training cycle was 14 weeks (including taper) and 815 miles long. 638 of those miles were EASY miles at 9:33 average pace! 57 miles were RACES (2 5Ks, 2 10Ks and a half marathon thus far) and the other 120 miles were WORKOUTS. In past training cycles, my easy run pace was likely closer to 8:30. We always hear to slow down your easy run pace and honestly, I thought I did a good job of that in the past, but … I took it to another level this time around! I think this has a lot to do with why I feel so fresh and have been able to really focus on crushing the workouts and races.

Mileage wise, this is what it looked like:

09/03/18: 55.80 miles
09/10/18: 56.05 miles
09/17/18: 61.55 miles
09/24/18: 63.25 miles
10/01/18: 64.95 miles
10/08/18: 60.00 miles
10/15/18: 60.60 miles
10/22/18: 64.00 miles
10/29/18: 64.60 miles
11/05/18: 48.75 miles
11/12/18: 57.35 miles
11/19/18: 52.60 miles
11/26/18: 50.30 miles
12/03/18: 55.70 miles

Workout wise, this is what it looked like (M = marathon pace and T = threshold pace):

2 mi. WU,  5 X 1k (4:01, 3:59, 3:58, 3:57, 3:53), 5 X 200 (37, 40, 38, 38, 39), 2 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 8 mi. @ M (6:57, 6:54, 6:42, 6:47, 6:55, 6:39, 6:47, 6:48), 1 mi. CD
1 mi. WU, 8 X 800 @ T (3:20, 3:18, 3:18, 3:14, 3:14, 3:10, 3:11, 3:08), 1 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 4 X 200 (41, 44, 42, 42), 4 mi. @ T (6:33, 6:31, 6:39, 6:23), 4 X 200 (42, 42, 44, 43), 2 mi. CD
4 mi. WU, 7 X 800 (2:56, 2:50, 2:51, 2:49, 2:53, 2:56, 2:53), 4 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 8 X 1k @ T (3:52, 3:50, 3:47, 3:46, 3:52, 3:47, 3:48, 3:46), 5 X 200 (40, 42, 43, 41, 42), 2 mi. CD
4 mi. WU, 6 X 1k @ T (3:44, 3:38, 3:37, 3:37, 3:38, 3:37), 4 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 2 mi. @ T (6:25, 6:30), 1 mi. @ T (6:22), 2 X 800 (2:54, 2:50), 2 mi. CD
3 mi. WU, 2 X 5 mi. @ M ((6:46, 6:44, 6:42, 6:45, 6:35), (6:41, 6:32, 6:35, 6:32, 6:27)), 2 mi. CD
3 mi. WU, 10 X 1:00 @ T (5:50 avg.), 3 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 3 X 2 mi. @ T ((6:12, 6:12), (6:05, 6:10), (6:02, 6:04)), 1 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 5 X 1k (4:01, 3:53, 3:48, 3:50, 3:49), 5 X 200 (40, 39, 39, 40, 39), 2 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 10 mi. w/ varying paces @ M/T (6:31 avg.), 2 mi. CD
4 mi. WU, 10 mi. @ M (6:36 avg.), 2 mi. CD
2 mi. WU, 8 X 1:00 @ T (5:42 avg.), 2 mi. CD
3 mi. WU, 6 mi. @ M (6:26 avg.), 3 mi. CD
1.5 mi. WU, 4 X 1k (3:53, 3:44, 3:41, 3:36), 1.5 mi. CD

I have also focused more on strength work than I ever have before. I did Pilates every. single. week and core work every. single. day. Physically, I am stronger than I ever have been and I know that this has made a big difference in my running! I have also fueled better than I have in the past. I practiced taking gels during all of my long workouts and races. I have neglected this in previous training cycles and I am definitely seeing the benefits of proper pre-run fueling at this point.

Mentally, I am in a good place! I didn’t read any of the pre-race “mental toughness” books that I planned to read, but I don’t even really feel like I need external sources of mental strength at this point. Running brings me joy and nothing can take that joy away from me. I know that at some point (or well actually probably at several points) during this marathon, I am going to have to dig deep within myself to stay mentally strong. I’m actually excited about that and feel up for the challenge. My coach has helped me tremendously with this. He keeps everything very fun and relaxed and that has helped me to not take this thing too seriously. After all, it’s just running.

Let’s do this thing!

3 thoughts on “Taper Thoughts”

  1. I am glad that you decided to recap your training cycle. You have put a TON of work into your marathon. (Did you decide to not run the CIM??) Either way, I look forward to your recaps whenever you post them but I do hope that at some point you will find some more time to rest BECAUSE 17 days straight of running would lead to a mental breakdown for me … I need anywhere from 1-4 rest days a month! lol!


  2. Hi! I’m a local (slow) runner who has followed your blog for years–and I really find it helpful! Thanks for making your blog available again and I look forward to any and all posts you have in the future! Good luck this weekend and have fun!


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