Sunday, February 26, 2017

Taper Tips: Taking my own advice

It's taper time and my body couldn't be happier! After my most intense marathon training cycle ever, I'm definitely ready for a little down time before I race 26.2 miles in Myrtle Beach. Now it's time to focus on mental preparation: my pacing strategy, my plan to get through the difficult parts, and my

I'm taking some pages out of my own book and using this time to focus on "the process" of the race instead of the outcome. Although I'm highly motivated to run a fast time, I know that the only way I'll get there is by breaking the race down into manageable chunks, and focusing on one mile at a time. Here are some key points that I need to remember during the race:

  • Energy and "feeling good" comes in waves. Just because you don't feel good at a certain point, or if it gets really hard, doesn't mean the rest of your race is doomed. Just power through it and trust that it's truly a rough patch that will pass. Marathons are full of ups and downs, and it's important to stay positive during the downs.
  • It's going to be hard. It's going to hurt. I need to be prepared for this, and when it happens, I should remind myself that this is what I've trained for. I'm physically prepared to run hard for a really long time, I just need to mentally be able to endure a lot of discomfort.
  • The course profile and wind direction is similar to my PR/BQ from two years ago. 5-6 miles in one direction (tailwind), turn around and run in the other direction until mile 19 (headwind), turn around and run straight to the finish (tailwind). Once I make that final turn, the run to the finish will be difficult, but there should be a nice tail wind propelling me forward -- just like there was two years ago. 
  • Don't drink too much water. I'm going to start the race well hydrated so there is no need to drink more frequently or with more volume than I do during my training runs. (I tend to over-drink when I run marathons).
  • I've set many PRs in windy conditions. The wind is not a major obstacle for me-- it just makes things a little more uncomfortable.
  • The most important thing is that I run my absolute hardest. My personal satisfaction with this race will not be based on my finish time; but rather the effort level I put out.
  • Don't worry about missing a BQ. I can run the whole race at my easy pace and BQ, so I have a huge buffer zone.
  • Run a good story. I'm going to write a blog post afterwards, so I should think about what I want it to say and make that a reality.
Week in Review
I've read many articles about how it's helpful to review your training cycle in its entirety during the taper as a way to build confidence. I've been doing that on a weekly basis with this blog. First I'll recap this past week, and then I'll focus on some highlights of the training cycle.

This week was definitely all about recovering. My blister has dramatically improved, and now the
Tuesday, Feb. 21
wound is completely closed. I've been wearing Injinji toe socks all week and leaving it open during the work day. I finished my antibiotics so this whole incident is behind me. My cold has passed completely, and I've felt energized all week.

Monday: 8.1 miles easy @ 8:32 average

Tuesday: 9.3 miles, including 4 x 2000m at the track. The 2000m intervals were at paces of 6:47, 6:38, 6:41, 6:38. This was the fastest I have ever run 2000m intervals-- faster than my 5K PR pace! I felt really energized throughout the entire workout.

Wednesday: 6.8 miles easy @ 8:31 average

Thursday: 7.9 miles, including road intervals. The intervals were 2 x (1 minute, 2 minute, 3 minute, 2 minute, 1 minute) all with 90 second recovery jogs. It was 52 degrees and humid, so I actually worked up a good sweat! I kept everything under a 6:30 pace, with the faster 1-minute intervals averaging around 6:10. 

Friday: 7 miles easy @ 8:30 average

Saturday: 10.7 mile easy @ 8:24 average. I consider this to be a heat acclimation run because it was
Saturday, Feb. 25: Unseasonably warm
sunny and about 60 degrees. 

Sunday: 3.5 miles easy @ 8:18 average. The best thing about this run was that I logged an 8:04 mile that felt really easy, running directly into a headwind. 

Total mileage: 53.3

I've now been running for 51 days straight, averaging 9.2 miles per day. My longest streak is 58 days, which I won't surpass, but I may end up logging more overall volume. We'll see how things shake out next week. 

Training Cycle Highlights and Stats
  • Average training pace this year: 8:24
  • Miles logged this year: 502.5
  • Days run this year: Every day except January 6th
  • Hardest run: 4 miles, 3 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile at tempo effort, with 3:00 recovery jogs- run in 21 mph sustained wind + wet snow and darkness
  • PRs set: 10K in 41:51 on un-tapered legs, 5K in 20:13 (set un-officially during a 10K)
  • Longest run: 22.3 miles at an average pace of 8:27
  • Fastest long run: 20 miles at an average pace of 7:55
  • Number of 20+ milers: 3
  • Slowest run: 3 miles at a pace of 10:04 when there was ice on the road
  • Hottest run: Either of my 2 treadmill runs in Miami while on a business trip
  • Longest marathon pace run: 12 miles @ 7:31 average
  • Highest mileage week: 71.7 (week of January 16th)
Weekly mileage for the last 12 months

I'm ready. Very, very ready.


  1. As an injured runner who will be DNSing this half, I gotta say you've done extremely well this training cycle. Sure you had some setbacks with the blister, some sickness, the Disney race being cancelled, etc... but you went so many days without missing ANY runs and such high mileage! It's really impressive and you're going to do great in Myrtle. I'll be sticking around to spectate and hopefully see you on the course or see you finish, too.

  2. WOW! Impressive stats! Good luck enduring the taper and I know you'll have a great race!

  3. Your training cycle has gone so well and it's been so fun to follow you! I am going to keep your advice for my upcoming marathon training cycle!

  4. Again I just have to say very impressive training and "moxie" you have as a runner. You are in control of your own destiny here with this level of conditioning you have attained. Doesn't you fully understand these days...things not within our control can happen out their before or during the race that can derail our best laid plans. But your mental preparedness and the adjustments you have made relative to "expectations" or "outcomes" of races seems to me to have found good footing and balance. I get some humor out of your reference to just run easy pace and BQ! In the world of "running relativity theory" I am at least 1-min slower in what would be my easy! I would love to be heading into a marathon race knowing that if things don't go my way in this race...just do easy and BQ! That's an awesome place to be Elizabeth! From what I have seen as I have followed your blog only are going to run far faster than "easy"...that I know. And again...gonna leave you with quote attributed to Arthur Ashe..."Start where you are, bring what you have, do what you can. Just do it!

  5. Yeah girl!! Enjoy this taper - you earned it!!!

  6. You had a great marathon training cycle. Better than the training cycle I had for my 3:26 marathon in June of 2014 if you look at my Running Ahead (rim2rimhiker). My fastest long run training pace was 8:08 for that training cycle.