Friday, September 09, 2005

Tapering 101: The Taper Madness Zone

I had a colleague asking me about my marathon strategy this morning. Of course this totally put me over the edge into the Taper Madness Zone.

A scaled-down sampling of this conversation:

Him: So how fast are you going to run your marathon?
Me: I want to finish in under 4 ½ hours.
Him: But you’ve been running your half-marathons in under 2 hours, you should be able to finish in 4 hours or less!
Me: (thinking – so have you been reading my blog or what?) I probably could run faster but I want to make sure I finish strong.
Him: (obviously not understanding this thinking) You could probably finish in 3:45 if you really pushed it. You should just go for it.
Me: (thanking the dear lord that the phone rang) Sorry, I have to answer the phone.

Of course now I have all these thoughts driving me insane. I know that I could probably finish in 4 hours or less, if I am having an ideal day, eat the right pasta mix, get enough sleep, have perfect weather, don’t get nervous, don’t start out too fast,... well you get the idea.

Up until this morning I have tried to keep this line of thinking out of my head (yeah, thanks a lot good buddy, I owe you one) because I knew it would drive me nuts like it did with the first marathon.

With my last several races I have done really well at listening to my “body signals” during the event and basing my pace on the rhythm. This isn’t some kind of spooky physic stuff, rather just applied experience of listening to my body and setting my pace based on how my body reacts to the tempo I am applying. It appears to be working as I have been setting PR’s right and left. The final exam is coming up on the 18th!

I do know from my long runs that I have to be particularly alert to the warning signs during the first 10-15K, as too fast of a pace here will leave me wiped out after 2-3 hours of running. This is pretty basic stuff really, most authors and experts will warn you about starting out too fast. For my first marathon I defined “too fast” as any split under 6:00/K (9:39/M).

So what is my “too fast” pace for the Baden Marathon in 9 days? Well that depends, on whether I’m having an ideal day, eat the right pasta mix, get enough sleep, have perfect weather, don’t get nervous, don’t start out too fast,...

I haven't run for two day, gosh do I need to go for a run, I'm having withdrawl symptoms :-O

Here it comes!!! ;)

I can't speak to marathons but it seems like you have formulated a solid strategy over time so probably hadn't ought to second guess yourself during this vulnerable time.

Next time your colleague comes around, clamp your hands to your ears and sing LaLaLaLaLaLa.
Hmmm. I'm the queen of second-guessing...and I'm in a similar situation as I can totally relate...I think you can do a 4 hour marathon, but I also think that your strategy of listening to your body is perfect. So start out slow, pick it up a *little* in the middle and then see what you have left at the end.

What will you regret more....not trying or trying for 4:00 and finishing in 4:30?
First thought in my mind is that I would probably regret not trying more than trying and limping in at 4:30 or worse. And if everything jives on race day this will probably be what will happen, cause that's just the way I am!
It's gotta be hard, this long taper for a marathon (maybe one day I'll find out)! I like Dianna's thoughts on strategy...she is a wise sage :-)
I'm confused. I was always told the longer distance takes a bit longer to complete. For example if you complete a half in x time you full time will be a tad longer than 2 times x. There's a website out there somewhere that calculates these things.
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