Taper Tantrums

After the exertions of last weekend’s race, and trying to rid myself of the last vestiges of the lurgy, I gently eased myself into gear this week.

I did a few short runs in the week to keep myself ticking over, taking it easy as I was still feeling fairly knackered, and tried to regain some of the mileage I had missed out on the week before. Another short run on Saturday was followed on Sunday by my final long run of an hour and a half as prep for Sunday’s Marathon. The run went fine but the conditions have me a bit nervous as it was very windy, as in ‘don’t fly a kite, you may end up in Spain’ windy.

I was by the river for a lot of the run so I expected it there, but even when I thought I’d be safe going up Dock Hill (which is basically a two lane road lined by large brick walls) I was running into a gale. Not fun. I suffered at my first marathon when the weather was set to windy pops, and was knackered 20 miles in trying to maintain my pace. It didn’t help that the headwind seemed to follow me whatever direction I went. My pace was actually ok this time despite the wind (think I’m a bit stronger now) but I could do without a repeat though. Even after 10 miles I was beginning to feel it in my legs, as fighting through the wind and the change in gait needed began to take it’s toll.

Sunday in Shepperton looks windy too (boo!) but quite a bit colder than recently (yay!), although the Met Office is full of liars so I’m taking their forecast with a pinch of salt. There isn’t anything I can do about the weather anyway (Captain Planet hasn’t got back to any of my emails – rude) so will just have to keep an eye on it and plan accordingly. I can however do something to prepare, but I don’t like it. Yes, we need to talk about tapering.

taperTapering is a double edged sword for me – on the physical side of things my body appreciates the break and it improves my performance in races, but mentally it can make me go a bit… doolally. My obsessive side has a set number of runs it likes to have each week and targets for miles covered in a week and for a month. Tapering messes with those and makes my obsessive side get a bit twitchy. Adding in normal pre-race nerves about your preparation and a feeling you should have done more makes things worse; easing back on the miles then feels like a really bad idea. It feels like laziness. With a hint of idiocy. And a underlying tang of betrayal.

I’ve got better at it, and learnt to balancekeep-calm-and-stop-running-19 the need to rest with some runs to build confidence and burn off some of the nervous energy, but I still get edgy. Basically my brain goes wonky and I have to restrain myself from doing that extra run, or those extra miles, or 3 x flat out mile repeats the morning of a race. This week I will restrict myself to two short-ish runs (going as slowly as possible on the last one), and will tell myself that those missed miles are just waiting for me on Sunday. (I may even chant the phrase ‘Patience you must have, my young Padawan’ in my best Yoda voice. This may also keep me safe running the streets of Medway at night…)

Me and Claire are staying over in a rather nice pub the night before the race so I can have a relaxed brekkie and then it’s just a quick drive to the start of the race (what do you mean pampered?). So the plan is to get there on Saturday and take it easy, eat well without going overboard and relax a bit. Easy. By breaking the 4 hour barrier a few weeks back by a healthy margin (albeit on a training run) I don’t have a firm target for the race. Depending on the conditions on this flat course it would be great to get close to 3:30, failing that I’ll try to beat my unofficial PB time and if things go wonky I’ll just try and get under 4 hours. If it’s calm and cool I might go fairly hard (but within reason) the first half of the race and see if I can hold on to the end. But I reserve the right to chicken out and just survive…

I just need to stay calm and keep my brain in check this week to give myself the best chance to do well. Oh and pray to the wind gods (Heinz?) to stay away. Will let you know how I get on. Cheers 🙂

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