Saturday, April 23, 2011

Too many miles on a taper?

My training schedule calls for a 13-mile run this weekend, just one week before my race. After the miles I've been logging as I train for this race, 13 doesn't seem like much to me, but my running companions have been telling me that's too far to be running just a week before the race.

For me at this level of fitness, 13 miles at a relatively easy pace doesn't take much out of me. I could see if a person had done a more minimalistic training regimen, a run this long wouldn't be a great idea. After all, it's possible you could get injured, and then all that hard work would have been wasted. On the other hand, there are lots of ways to get injured even if you didn't run at all. All told, this week I'll be running about 42 miles. The last time I ran so little in a week was last December. I even ran farther than that the week of my ski trip to Colorado. Next week I'll be cutting down the miles even more, to just 28 miles (not counting the marathon itself). That's less than half of what I did at peak intensity. So although in some ways it seems like I'm running a lot of miles during this taper, it definitely feels like a taper. I have no doubt that I will be very well-rested come race day.

Since tomorrow is Easter, the DART group decided to do their long run this morning. I met up at CVS with Chad, Matt, Tim, Jeff, David, Chad's neighbor, whose name I've forgotten, and a new guy, Jacob, who was in town visiting family.

Matt, Tim, Jacob and I took off at a relatively fast pace on a hilly route up Grey road. Miles 1, 2, and 3 were 8:19, 7:54, and 8:00 on a leg that included 121 feet of climbing. When we got to the top of the hill, we waited for the rest of the group, then took off again with Chad joining us in the faster group. After Mile 4 clicked in at 7:39, I decided I probably shouldn't be running this 13-miler at near-tempo-pace, so I slowed down and waited for ultra-runners David and Jeff to catch up. My Mile 5 pace was 9:19. Then the three of us rattled off a series of 8:30-ish miles, all the way down Shearer Road to the new greenway in River Run, and out the other side of River Run. I was a little surprised to find that I wasn't feeling great on these miles, which were a little hilly but shouldn't have given me too much trouble. With two miles left to go, Jeff split off to do some more hill work, and David headed home. I decided I should pick up the pace for the finish, and completed uphill Miles 12 and 13 in 8:13 and 7:53, and felt good doing it. It's another case where speeding up can sometimes make you feel better during a long run. The finish of this run definitely gave me a nice confidence boost going into Big Sur.

My average pace for the 13.16-mile run was 8:20 per mile, which is actually nearly the same as my official pace for the National Half Marathon. Not bad at all!

Details of today's run are below.


  1. nice confidence boosting run- now you can REALLY taper! 13 miles was fine 8 days out the mileage you've been doing

  2. I hope you're right, Paul. I do feel like I'm in perfect position. I'm already feeling pretty good today, and I have seven more days to settle in. I think I'm looking forward to my *second* marathon a little more than my first -- then I'll have a better sense of what to expect.