Now that the longest run is out the way and the marathon itself is only days away, it is time to taper. This basically means that you put your feet up and eat pies. Well, actually it doesn’t mean that at all, but it is a time of rest and recovery. Eating sensibly to repair the muscles and pulling back on the training to allow the body to rest and all this should equate to an easy run in to the big day.
That said at Striders this week I was looking at doing some longish reps. No Abbey Avenue reps this week as the first Tuesday of the month were reserved for hill sessions. However, at the introduction there was another group who were running 1k reps around the lakes in Verulamium. The clocks had gone forward which offered a safer environment for running now – or so you would think!
I could tell something wasn’t quite the same as the other group I usually run with by the ‘gentle’ jog to the start, I thought I may have mistakenly put my walking boots on before leaving home. Some parts of the park were still affected by the recent flooding, so we did a reccy of the course – these guys were fast and I was almost at full effort just to keep them in sight. On arrival back at the starting tree there was a brief explanation of this evening’s task – two sets of three reps at increasing pace and possibly a couple more (pace to be decided) at the end.
Ready! Go! And off we went, jeez these guys were off like they were being persued by a pack of wildpdogs. By the time I wheezed myself back to the starting tree, they were half way through their recovery, so I had less than a minute to get ready for the ‘slightly faster’ rep. By the time I had got back from the third rep I was haunched over puffing like Sir Nigel Gresley. I was getting slower on each rep, but this was a brutal session for me. It was probably not the best time for people to come over to introduce themselves to me, but I did appreciate the interaction. It was at this point that I was told that a lot of this group were amongst the fastest in the county. With that in mind I sat out the next one, but continued with the next two which showed initial improvement and then the slowest rep of the lot. My decision to run down to the track tonight was beginning to look unwise as the inevitable run home would have to follow and I was not in the best condition right now. I even ‘chose’ to walk the last few hundred meters.
Danger, danger, everywhere
Now that the heavy training is over and the countdown to London is into single figures my mind moves it’s mischievous attentions over to potential injuries. Everything we do in life comes with some element of risk and with an important event coming up every potential risk seems to come into sharp focus. The runs around the lakes were riddle with hazards ranging from areas of slippery mud to uneven pathways waiting to take out an unsuspecting ankle. But there were other more bizarre events like a couple of low flying ducks on a collision course with my trajectory and an indecisive moment when a moorhen exiting the water into my path couldn’t work out whether to continue or return, so we both stuttered in a stationery position, however I was carrying more momentum and could have ended up in the River Ver.
There is probably nowhere more potentially dangerous than a gym and the mad individuals pulling, pushing and straining themselves on a variety of instruments of torture to make themselves fit. I had a cross-training session on the Thursday, followed by a conditioning session on the Friday that I paid extra attention to my technique to keep me free from disaster.
But there are some serious nutters at the gym that are working to such a high level of fitness that my 90 minutes of conditioning would seem like a mere warm up to them. A point in case was a guy who was doing a series of exercises while I was cooling down on a cross-trainer. His body formed an arch with his feet at one end and his head at the other, his hands were behind his back and he was doing push ups with his neck. From this he rocked his head from side to side and it was making me feel actually quite sick as his neck was bending to unnatural angles to his body. He then proceeded to do the same but with his back arched. Weirdo!
Final last long-ish run before M-Day. It was the last time to try out any timings or nutrition and hydration strategies. Knowing that the bus next week leaves St Albans at 6:30, I tried to simulate the morning with an early rise and small bowl of porridge to start. As the early starts messes with my normal timings for breakfast I will have to probably have some more porridge on our arrival on site in Greenwich Park, so at 8am I tried an instant variety reconstituted with hot water from a flask and this worked OK. Watermelon drink and a cereal bar along with a few pints of water were consumed by 9am. There will be a bit of hanging around next Sunday, but it should be good to get into the mood and take in the atmosphere.
It was the first time out with my newly arrived BHF Heart Runners running shirt to go with the shorts, shoes, socks and pants that I will use on the day. Nip guards were attached, bladder was emptied and BodyGlide was applied to various areas. A little 15 minute warm-up to the beginning of the Alban Way in Cottonmill and then marathon pace for 25 minutes, turn around and 25 minutes back and a cool down back to the house.
NOTE: Out of all the runners I saw that morning, very few seem of acknowledge your existence with any polite ‘good morning’ or knowing nods. Miserable beggars! It don’t cost anything.
But enough griping, it is now just seven days to go. Bring It On. I’m ready.