Monday, April 23, 2012

There's a first time for everything: Time to taper

I have finally got to the last week of my 10 week half marathon training program and it's time to taper. It dawned on me that this is the first time I have ever had a proper program and followed it through (almost) to the end. Okay so I kinda cheated by going hard two Sundays ago and doing a full 21.1 instead of the planned 19, and racing the second half, but this past week I took it easier than I had planned. I did a very easy 6km run on Tuesday and instead of the scheduled track workout I went on the road and did a fartlek session  and again didn't go all out. By the weekend I was feeling refreshed and did 6km on Saturday with a focus on hills and pushed hard on a 2km incline (at 4:30 pace) in the middle of the route. I cut my Sunday run from 15km to 11km and again added 2.5 km of hills split into a 1.5km climb from about 4.5km and a 1km climb at 8km. That is one thing I have been lazy with, hill training, but I still felt good pushing a bit, but it's something I have to start fitting into my workouts.

This week is a no nonsense week. a couple of easy 6s on Tuesday and Saturday, sandwiching a few 400m repeats on the track on Thursday. There is a bit of moisture in the air, so hopefully it holds out otherwise I will repeat the fartlek from last week just to get my legs turning. Then either on the Sunday or the Monday I will do a very easy 5km jog and then it is race day on Tuesday, the one I have been training for all along. I must say while I'm not feeling fatigued, I can feel that I have put in 334km since 18 February. Not since school days where I was doing 3 sessions a week have I stuck so resolutely to a plan. The 149km I put in last month was easily the most I have ever done but by the end of this month I will have done another 160. The most mileage I had put in since I started running again in June was 78 in November last year, and I doubt I have ever put in that much at any other time in my life so this is very new territory for me. I'm really just looking forward to slowing down, cutting down the kays and conserving my energy for an all out effort on the 1st.

While I really enjoyed the Slowmag and was surprised with how comfortably I cleared 1:40 (official time was 1:38:42) after initially shooting for 1:45 when I started training, I'm now slightly confused as to how I should approach the Wally Hayward. The first consideration is that the route is a bit tougher. Slowmag was relatively flat with a bit of an incline between 13.5 and 14.5km. The Wally Hayward has what is described in as "the slow and poisonous climb over the highway" from about 6km and it's a gradual climb but you never really stop until about 11km. Then there is the dreaded and famed Hakkin Hill at the end which I still remember from doing the 10km in 2006! Secondly as I said earlier, my pace for the Slowmag, ~49:20 for the first 10km and the same time for the following 11km, was perfect but a plan I stumbled upon by accident since I had begun with a training run in mind. Now do I push a little harder here maybe aiming for a very doable 47:30-48:00 for the first 10? Hakkin Hill expected, the last 10 for Wally actually look easier than Slowmag with a predominantly downhill path so 4:25 pace  as I managed at Slowmag for the remainder of the race is a possibility and I could be flirting with a good PB of between 1:36 and 1:37. But then again, with the slightly more challenging beginning, I might not have as much in reserve as I had a Slowmag to effectively run a PB for the last 10km (guesstimated about 44:15 for the last 10km).. By going out at 5:20 for the first 3km at Slowmag and then easing into my stride to only break the 5:00/km average pace only at 9km, allowed me to really go for it in the second half.

Decisions. Decisions.

Ultimately I just want a great run and know that If I enjoy myself and race intelligently, then a good time for the course will follow.

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