Milton Keynes Marathon: the taper

On Easter Monday it is a fortnight until the Milton Keynes Marathon on Mayday Bank Holiday. It is the start of the taper for the event for me as well, time to rest with nothing to gain but everything to lose, to think back on training and to think about the race – the latest, but most confident and realistic, attempt at a sub-3 hour marathon.

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At this stage the training is supposed to be ‘in the bag’ -your body can’t absorb training, you run the risk of exhaustion and injury, and rest is needed to prepare for race day. It has been a pretty good training block – I’m very obsessive over my excel spreadsheet training plan, with miles and sessions prepared months in advance on it. Of those I haven’t missed a mile or a session, although some juggling about was required occasionally. While I’ve been based up in Leeds I’ve also been running with my new club, Hyde Park Harriers, on Tuesday evenings and taking part in their ‘World of Pain’ interval sessions on Thursdays, as well as taking part in the Leeds Parkrun on Saturday morning. This has meant that most weeks have included nine sessions a week, fitting in early runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays with 5:30am alarm calls. A 70+ mile week is not unusual.

Due to a bit of juggling (remember obsessive about spreadsheet and mileage) one week hit 85 miles. Maybe I was being a bit silly and skirting on the edge of injury – but I haven’t picked up any (major or worrying) injuries so all is good.

Any grumbles are minor. I’ve been sniffly a lot of the time but trained through it. I’m getting better, and more rest and less training will help this. I’ve had a bit of a left calf and ankle niggle, but nothing major, and more rest will again help this out. My practice half was bereft of a PB due to the strong winds on the Blackpool coast, but I’m fairly relaxed about it as it was a decent run nonetheless.

I’ve been fairly wiped and exhausted for much of the time however, tired grumpy and irritable and not that much fun to live with. A 5:30am alarm call means going to sleep later than 11pm is plain out ridiculous. I’ve been running 50+ mile weeks since February, and that’s a long time of wake up, run, work, run, eat, sleep, repeat.

For most of this block I’ve felt that training has gone well – when I’ve had the luxury of not being exhausted and having a rubbish run. My long runs have been good and comfortable, my 5K times have tumbled, and this last week I ran two confidence boosting sessions – on Monday a 8 mile run (2 miles easy, then 1 mile hard, 1 mile easy x 3), and on Wednesday a 10 mile run, middle 8 at marathon pace or better. These both were really good runs, with the effort paces very reassuring.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the race – reading old reports to remind myself about the post twenty mile wobbles. My long runs have gone out to 23 miles in this block, so I feel okay about this, but I know anything can happen. I’m more and more convinced of trying to run a positive split. Nothing drastic, maybe going through halfway in 1h32m, and then increasing the pace. As even Mo showed at London – if you work too hard in the first half, it can all go a bit funny at the end.

So off we go – hoping to report back in a while with some good news…

Happy running,

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