This week was 49 miles of running, 16 "miles" of pool-running, and 2000 yards of swimming -- training log is here.
Middle taper week. For me, tapering feels a lot like landing an airplane. You know where you are, and where you want to be, but you have to cut back just the right amount to get there satisfactorily. And be willing to make adjustments along the way, in response to how you feel.
I have two guidelines for my own taper - things that work for me. One is that I need to cut back on the volume but maintain the intensity. If I skip workouts, I feel flat on race day. The second is that my fast running needs to be hard but not TOO hard. Rather than focus on "tempo effort" or "interval effort", I go with "fast but fun effort" - hard is fine, but absolutely no straining or anaerobic work.
[again, this is what I find works for me - I know others who can essentially take the last two weeks off, and show up sharp and ready to go on race day. And conversely, there are those who can race within 2 weeks of their marathon without compromising the marathon performance. We're all individuals, and taper in particular seems to vary widely among runners. Just like landing different types of aircraft.]
At the beginning of the week, for Tuesday's workout, I was still feeling the Richmond Half-Marathon in my legs. This wasn't terribly surprising - it usually takes me longer than a week to recover from a half. The fact that I just barely hung on in the final miles of that race didn't help either - if I had paced it a bit more patiently, I would have recovered better, I think.
Because of the lingering fatigue, I pulled back on my mileage some in the middle of the week, and that seemed to do the trick. Or maybe it was just the cranberry sauce. But either way, by the end of the week I was feeling a lot fresher. Aerobically, I felt very good, and the legs were starting to get some bounce. All right on schedule.
I have one more "workout" (4x800 at who-the-heck cares effort) and a few short easy runs, and then it's showtime in Sacramento.
The big question for CIM-ers last week and the beginning of this week was the air quality issues in Northern California, and whether those air quality concerns would interfere with the race. I was fairly confident that the air would clear by December 2, but I chatted with my coach and mapped out a back-up plan anyway - choosing Rock and Roll Arizona on January 20th.
Why R'n'R AZ? (and more specifically, why wait that long?) Well... since I had done my last 20 miler on November 3, I needed to either run a marathon no later than December 9 (5 weeks after that 20) or start training again to extend the cycle. And there weren't any appealing options on the weekends of December 1-2 or 8-9.
Rock and Roll San Antonio didn't have great reviews, Rehoboth is not always well managed and features an 8-mile stretch on crushed stone (a surface that aggravates injuries that I work to keep at bay), and both Kiawah and Rocket City would be challenging to reroute to last minute from DC. Plus the difficulties of taking MORE time off of work with very little notice when I had just taken a vacation for CIM.
Additionally, one thing I learned from my Mohawk-Hudson->Columbus->Hartford Marathon saga last fall was that switching marathons with a few days' notice is emotionally draining and costs me. I get focused on my goal race - I research it, plan things out, and just get excited about it. And I get energy from that. Running a different race that I haven't planned on and don't really care about can affect my race just as much as poor weather can. If I don't want to be there, I probably won't run my best.
So...picking another race in mid-January, especially a fast race on a course that I like in an area of the country that I really like made much more sense. If the opportunity presented, I could get emotionally invested in RNR AZ. I could look forward to it just as I'm looking forward to CIM now, in a way that I wouldn't for the other options.
Plus, the advantage of my shortened training cycle for CIM was that I could stretch out the cycle without too much trouble. I really only started training specifically for CIM in early October, which is when many people would start training for a January marathon. So extending the cycle was an option for me in a way it wouldn't be for those who had been training since August.
Fortunately, as of the writing of this post, the air is clear in Sacramento, and the forecast looks good through next Sunday. Hopefully it will stay that way.
Monday: DIY yoga and 8 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Tuesday: 11 miles, including a track workout of 1600, 2x1200, 800 in 6:16, 4:39, 4:32, 2:58. Also injury prevention work and 750 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Wednesday: 8 miles very easy (8:58) plus drills, strides, and DIY yoga. Foam rolling at night.
Thursday: Upper body weights/core and 8 "miles" pool-running. Foam rolling at night.
Friday: 11 miles, including a three mile tempo in 19:09 (6:28/6:22/6:19). Also injury prevention work and 500 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.
Saturday: 8 miles very easy (8:48) and then drills and strides, followed by DIY yoga and upper body weights/core. Foam rolling at night.
Sunday: 12 miles, split as 3 miles easy (8:58) and then 9 miles moderate (7:43). Also light injury prevention work and 750 yards recovery swimming. Foam rolling at night.