That said, I still agree that some kind of backing off is in order to give my legs a chance to be refreshed and not overstressed by the time the marathon arrives. I began my tapering process last week by cutting out extra workouts, restraining myself to one (run or elliptical) per day. I think that was very helpful in resting my legs a little prior to my big running weekend that just occurred (20-mile run including half marathon on Saturday, 5K race on Sunday, and a good run on Monday).
Saturday was my last long run prior to the marathon. I ran on Sunday and Monday, took Tuesday off (elliptical), and was back out for my last major speedwork session today. Yasso 800's, baby!* The article recommends working up to ten 800-meter intervals (finishing at least ten days before the marathon), and even though I flunked out on my nine Yasso attempt two weeks ago, I gamely headed out this morning for a stab at the final ten.
One of my problems last time was I ran out of time (yeah, that's the ticket!**). I got started too late, spent too much time on warm-up, then took advantage of my need to get to work in a timely fashion to call it quits after six repeats. So today I thought I'd make a stronger effort to allow sufficient time for seven-plus miles on the track (five miles in the 800's, plus a quarter-mile recovery jog between each).
I did my warm-up in my neighborhood, a mile and a half before stopping to use the bathroom at my house, then another half mile to the track (two miles total). At the track I reset my watch and geared up for my first round. (The first few are the worst, aren't they?) It was raining lightly so I was wearing old shoes that could get muddy. Luckily it wasn't raining hard and there were no major puddles to dodge. (By the time I got home to the shower, though, I had to wash dirt off the backs of my legs!)
My first two rounds were somewhat disappointing, much slower than I'd like (hoping for sub-4 minutes, not getting it). Then I got a little bit in the swing of things and started posting under 4 minutes. The idea of doing this ten times was still overwhelming though! I kept giving myself little pep talks. After three I'd be more than halfway through the first five...after five I'd be halfway...after six I'd be on the downhill side...I could at least do eight! By the time I got to eight I was out of time, sort of, but decided if I skipped a stop at Starbucks and brought my breakfast to work instead of eating at home, I could take another ten minutes and finish all ten.
There were a number of strange and slightly distracting things that happened while I was on the track. First there was the custodian/groundskeeper guy who drove his truck around the track while emptying the garbage cans. I managed to avoid the truck without issue, but when I approached the bench where I'd left my water bottle and gloves I saw they were gone! Sure enough, the custodian had picked them up and dumped them in the garbage! (I'm talking a Nathan handheld bottle, not some disposable water bottle.) Luckily he hadn't emptied it yet, and he retrieved the water bottle from me and wiped it off. (I retrieved the gloves myself.) Yes, I did drink out of the water bottle again later.
Then, after he and his truck drove away, a big tractor drove into the field and started mowing. It really didn't get in my way at all, except for a slight scare when it was blocking the entire track while turning around. Luckily it was back into the field by the time I got to it and I didn't have to stop.
Finally, in the second half of interval number nine, I was chased around the track by a middle school student wearing jeans (and presumably running shoes, at least). It was not in an aggressive fashion, but it was strange. He was just behind me the whole way but never passed me (until I finished the half mile and went into recovery jog). I like to think he couldn't keep up. :) Anyhow, when I passed him after he stopped, he said something like "good job." I said thanks.
Having done nine at that point, of course I was going to finish up. I dug up my last bit of energy and pushed myself around the track two more times and called it good. Ten Yasso's done. 4:05, 4:07, 3:58, 3:58, 4:00, 3:57, 3:59, 4:02, 3:58, 3:58. (All these are half miles measured on my Garmin, not actually 800 meters.) With the warm-up, my total distance for the day was 9.75 miles.
Tomorrow is probably a rest/elliptical morning...although I am a little tempted by a rogue weather forecast that suggests it might be sunny at 6 a.m., rather than drizzly and rainy as it has been today. I guess there's a small chance that I might decide to go out and run rather than go to the Y, but it would probably not be a great decision. The only reason I am really even considering it is because Friday's schedule will be messed up, due to my leaving for Hawaii!
We're going to Kona on the Big Island for five days, over the long holiday weekend. I really think that a short trip to Hawaii is a great taper tool, don't you? Last year I felt like I had a running breakthrough while we were in Hawaii. For some reason I started running faster and easier despite the warm temperatures (though I did go out early before it got really warm) and humidity. I think there's something therapeutic about swimming in sea water, too.
While we're in Hawaii I will probably run some almost every day, because that's what I do on vacation. Kona and our hotel are right along the route for the Kona Marathon/Half Marathon (as well as the Kona Ironman Marathon), and I am hoping on one day to run a good portion of the Half Marathon route as a medium-long run. I'll probably eliminate part of it as I don't think I really need to run a full 13.1 miles.
Then, when we get back from Hawaii, it's unpack, repack, and off to Newport! My last running day will be a short run next Wednesday. Then it's two days of rest, rest, rest my legs. And eating carbs.Finally, for some nuts and bolts taper ideas, I really like the tips in this article.
*Channeling George Costanza.
**Apparently I'm all about the 80's & 90's today. What other cliché can I draw upon?