By Bri Wilson
Apparently I can’t count.
Even though I clearly have on my training plan that after the Beat the Blerch half marathon on September 16, I would run a 15 km and 10 km for my last long slow training runs, that technically puts me at a four week taper, not a three week taper as I generally like to do. Last time I did my longest run four weeks out I had a terrible marathon, so I’m keeping my volume relatively equal to the week before cutting back. What usually causes me to hit the wall in the marathon is not having enough long run time in ahead of the race – whether that’s a confidence thing or not I don’t know, but it’s always my legs that go before my cardio and energy levels.
So this weekend I plan to do a 24-26 km long run instead of a 15 km long run, followed by a 12 km run the following week, which is 7 days out from the marathon.
Tune-up race day! I wrote a full Beat the Blerch Half Marathon race review earlier this week, but here’s a summary: I ran a personal record of 1:38:39 (my previous personal record was 1:41 something), finished 3rd in my age group, was 4th female overall (of 520 females) and was 18th overall (of all 833 runners). I was super happy with my time and it was a great confidence boost going into the marathon in a few weeks. I maintained a steady 4:45 pace and felt great the entire time, despite the steady climb for the first 10K, the rain and wind and muddy trail, and bottleneck of runners for the last 5K or so.
Clearly I was having a great time. The guy on my right who tried to speed past me at the end, not so much.
Sunday was a much-needed rest day, and other than doing chores I took it easy. My legs felt a little tight after the run, but not nearly as sore as I thought they would be. I also took the opportunity on Sunday to fully test out my new yoga wheel, which I got a few weeks ago but haven’t had the chance to practice much with since I’ve been so focused on marathon training. It’s great as a prop for leg stretches and as a support tool to relieve tension in my upper and lower back, which I often get after long runs and races.
On Monday, I opted to do a upper body strength session in the morning for half an hour, and an easy 5K recovery run after work to shake out my legs a bit. My legs were noticeably tired, but I was feeling good. No aches or pains or niggles – knock-on-wood my lower body can stay this way!
I also got my new FitBit Charge 2 in the mail on Monday, which I pre-ordered a few weeks ago since I got a chip in the screen of my old one. Instead of just replacing it, FitBit gave me a discount code towards purchasing a new one. I’ll do a full review of the Charge 2 next week, but for now I can share I’m already loving the larger screen with more stats, the interchangeable coloured bands (no more boring black all the time!), the interval workout timer, move reminders and text message alerts, which is great when I’m out for a run – no need to pull out my phone!
On Tuesday I attempted a tempo run. I say attempted, because after 3 km it was clear I couldn’t maintain a tempo pace. I ran a hilly 8 km route, and waffled between a 5:15 and 5:45 pace. With 1.5 km to go, I decided to walk up a massive hill instead of run it, and kind of jogged for the last kilometre. Yeah, my legs weren’t ready for another tempo-paced run that soon after the race.
Back to the weight room! I did 30 minutes of mainly upper body work with a bit of lower body, single-leg moves. In the next two weeks, I’ll cut back to two-day-a-week strength sessions with move power/plyo moves (higher intensity) at a lower volume (less sets and reps). I followed this strength session with a 20-minute incline walk on the treadmill.
Since I had plans after work, I opted for a 20-minute HIIT workout followed by a 20-minute easy run on the treadmill instead of my usual hill and interval run. My legs felt almost recovered from my race on Saturday, so I should be good to go for one last long run this weekend.
Since I’m doing a long run tomorrow, I opted for 20 minutes of light Pilates and Barre and another 20-minute easy treadmill run before work, and plan to do some foam rolling and yoga wheel stretching after work. I have a massage booked before the race, but know I need to spend a bit more time on recovery (rest, easing up on volume, yoga, foam rolling) in these next two weeks to ensure a healthy race day.
Bri Wilson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and freelance fitness and health writer based in Victoria, BC. Bri writes about training for marathons, triathlons and ultra marathons on her blog, runliftyoga.com.