3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

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maccy

3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:35 pm

Hi all

Ive done the following training for my marathon on April 25 (there's been general running in and around these): (in miles)

7/2      17 (went well)
14/2    7 x 1miles at marathon pace
17/2    13  (went fine)
21/2    14 (at 86% HR, got thru it fine)
2/3      25 (too long, last 8km were tough on legs,  easy pace, but legs suffered and slowed at the end)
21/3    17 (at 85% HR, went fine)
29/3    18.6 Not a good one, didn't take on regular water,tummy was working, from 24km onwards legs were fading
5/4      21  Much better.Followed tips learnt here and took sports drink every 20 mins. 77% HR average. In the closing kms where i fell apart last week  to do 5:20 per km, this week I was actually able to speed up and do the last 6 kms at MP + 15ecs (about 4:10).

Now I have to choose between doing a final long run this Sunday and a 2 week taper. Or to have a 3 week taper. From what Tinman has said, Im probably the kind of runner who can choose the 3 week taper, as opposed to the type of runner who has to keep the mileage going up until 2 weeks to go. If one could choose, would the 3 week taper be better? If I feel my weekly mileage has been patchy, should I try squeeze in the extra long run and hope I can recover in two weeks before the race? Is the benefit to doing a Long run 2 weeks before the race big enough (if one thinks he might be missing one more  long run) to try it, or should one err on the side of caution?

I appreciate any advice!

Thanks,

Maccy

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by Tinman » Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:01 am

Maccy -

I encourage others to interact with you and share thoughts/opinions.

To be frank, your marathon preparation doesn't look solid. I recommend that you do not set lofty time-goals and, rather, just focus on running within yourself: controlled, patient, and focused on making it to the end before you reach a point of exhaustion (the inevitable part of marathon racing). Spread your energy well over the course-length.

I recommend that you skip an extra long run, in the last 3 weeks, based on your profile, and, instead, run a 15 miler with 12 miles at 10-15 seconds over expected marathon pace. Do that 15 days before the race. About 10 days before the race run 6 x 1 mile at half-marathon pace within a 12-mile run. About 5 days before the race run 6 x 800 at current CV/10k pace with full recoveries (about 800m of easy running) during an 8 to 9 mile run. Then, ease back to 3-5 mile slow runs over the lead-up days.

Good luck!

Tinman
Last edited by Tinman on Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Thu Apr 08, 2010 1:07 pm

Thanks Tinman

I appreciate the reply and will follow your tips in these final days,

Thanks :)

maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:56 pm

In the final 2 weeks, in-between the workouts you've mentioned, would I just be doing easy/EZ pace, and about 6 to 8 miles a day?

Thanks

Maccy

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by Tinman » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:26 pm

maccy -

I don't know what you have been running on easy days (what I call filler run days). Run your normal easy mileage distanced on filler run days until you are 9 days away from the race; then reduce the mileage slowly until you reach about 2 miles the day before the race.

Cheers,

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maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:32 pm

thanks for the help Tinman

Incidentally, of the athletes you have trained to a marathon, how did you judge what their target pace should be on race day? Was it a question of them just getting thru the weeks of training you'd set, or were there any sessions you'd analyse after to get an idea of whether they were on track or not?

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by BoilerTom90 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:41 pm

I can tell you what Tinman told me:

The first 10 of the marathon should feel easy. If not easy, it's too fast (keep in mind that "easy" when in a race and tapered is not the same as an easy run.

The next 10 were suppose to be a little harder, and becoming uncomfortable.

The last 6.2 will be hard.

In actual terms, I had run some 10Ks and a 1/2M 3 weeks before the marathon. I used my  1/2M pace as the input for my marathon pace (after all I had been doing marathon specific training).  Basically, for me, the plan was my 1/2M pace plus about 20 seconds/mile or so.

Unfortunately I got a little carried away in the first 10, didn't hydrate enough, and paid the ultimate price with a crash at mile 19 or so. So, make sure those first 10 are easy and you hydrate/fuel properly early on.

Good luck!

maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:44 pm

Hi Boiler Tom, just out of interest, what did the crash at 19 entail, ie how much slower did your pace drop? Did you have to walk, or from what to what did your pace drop?

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by BoilerTom90 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 9:07 pm

More than anything, my quads cramped up. I never really stopped but over the last 7 miles I would walk when the cramps occurred, then resume running as much as I could before the cramps returned. 

For the first 19 miles I was averaging between 6:40 and 6:50 (a few faster earlier). I stopped paying attention to  my splits/times after that point, but I went from being on a 2:57(ish) pace to running a 3:16 (7:33 pace).  What is that... lots of 9 minute miles or so?

It wasn't for lack of training, or proper training (I felt like I was in great shape for the race). As I said, just a couple tactical errors, and I think the other factor was that I don't do well in the cold. I get real tense and can't get into a rhythm.  If you remember, it was too cold for Chicago last year.

Ironically, that was my slowest of 3 marathons, but the first time I've BQ'd. 

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by ap4305 » Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:13 pm

[quote="maccy"]
of the athletes you have trained to a marathon, how did you judge what their target pace should be on race day? Was it a question of them just getting thru the weeks of training you'd set, or were there any sessions you'd analyse after to get an idea of whether they were on track or not?
[/quote]

I'm not Tinman, but since I have trained for marathons under his direction I'll weigh in here.  The original pace selection is probably more art than science.  Anyone who tells you X pace in a workout must yield Y pace in the marathon race without looking at months of previous training is just blowing smoke at you.  Certainly you'll have a good idea of the pace range you should aim for based upon half marathon races and marathon paced workouts but there's no way to be exact.  Of course, we often feel great at the beginning of a marathon and 10k pace might feel easy under those conditions, so the pace guidelines mostly serve as a speed limit. 

However, the reverse does not apply to the speed limit concept.  We'll never set a firm pace goal for the early miles.  If you've done enough marathon paced runs, your legs will have a good idea of what that rhythm should be anyway.  Using previous workouts and race results is more important for picking your "GO" time in the middle of the race.  If training has been great and you arrive at the line with supreme fitness, the race plan might give you freedom to drop the pace after 10 miles if you feel good.  If training has been very good but not spectacular, you might be instructed to wait until miles 15-16 to make a move.  If training has been ok, you'll need to get to mile 21-22 before you think about "going for it."  Anything less than satisfactory training, your only goal will be to conserve your energy so you can maintain a solid pace over the last 2-3 miles to minimize the risk of blowing up.  Before your "GO" time you need to listen to your body and simply use your workout times as affirmation as to how you are feeling after the gun goes off.
Allan Phillips
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maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Sat Apr 10, 2010 10:35 am

Thanks guys,

Ok, bearing in mind the art of coming up with a pace, from a calculating point of view:

If one is predicted a 2:45 based on recent half marathon, but one has had ok but not great prep for the marathon.
Lets say the athlete has completed a couple half marathons at marathon pace (apart from the half that yielded a 2:45 prediction, which was at full pace), and been fairly comfortable.
Also he's done a 5km which was the same time he did the year before when he was doing speedier workouts and not marathon training.
He's done 2 long runs that werent great, but his final 33km one with proper fuelling and hydration was much better and comfortable at 40 secs per km above marathon pace, and about 77% HR.

So he feels these are plus points, but is worried his overall mileage has had some down weeks due to forced days off, where he had to take 4 days off twice in a 2 month period.

Given the above, would you say if he tried for 2:50 in the marathon, that would be too optimistic? If he did try for this, would the crash in the final miles be as bad as if he had gone for say 2:55? Would the bonk at 2:55 pace be vastly worse than the bonk at 2:50 pace?

I know this is all subjective, so just looking for thoughts from runners who have done more marathons than me :)

Thanks!

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by ap4305 » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:01 am

[quote="maccy"]


Given the above, would you say if he tried for 2:50 in the marathon, that would be too optimistic? If he did try for this, would the crash in the final miles be as bad as if he had gone for say 2:55? Would the bonk at 2:55 pace be vastly worse than the bonk at 2:50 pace?


[/quote]

Take it from someone who ran the final 10k in his first two marathons in nearly an hour :-[....when it rains it pours.  If you hold back ever so slightly at the beginning of the race, you can often get back whatever time you gave up in the early miles.  However, if you ever so slightly cross over your maximum sustainable pace, the consequences can be dire.  Nonetheless, if you have completed some lengthy runs at sub 2:50 pace, I wouldn't discourage you from trying for 2:50....I just wouldn't go for that pace from the outset. 

As Boiler Tom and I pointed out above, a good strategy is to divide the race into segments rather than worrying about hitting goal pace from the gun.  The 10-10-10 approach is one way, but you could also think 4 x 10k + 2k.  Start out controlled (2:55ish) and if you are itching to get on 2:50 pace you can move down after 10k.  Under this approach you will still have plenty of time in the back half of the race to make up for the easy start if you really want to run 2:50 or below.  An opening 10k around 2:55 pace (~6:40 mile pace) doesn't preclude you from hitting the most ambitious end of your goal time range.  I think you can certainly try for 2:50 pace as a big picture goal to guide your second half strategy, but I simply wouldn't go about it by aiming for your most ambitious goal pace from the very first step.   
Last edited by ap4305 on Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:19 am

thanks AP,

a very well thought out reply, I appreciate it!

Maccy

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Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by Tinman » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:12 pm

Maccy -

In my opinion, mileage is a secondary factor, when determining target marathon pace. First on the list are quality long runs and long races, as predictors/indicators of marathon racing fitness.

I've coached numerous runners who only covered 45 miles per week, but ran well under 3 hours for the marathon. For most, who were busy people with obligations like family and work, I gave them two Big Workouts per week and the other days were 5 mile jogs or cross-training. For one extreme case, I prescribed just two types of workouts, which were repeated for 10 weeks in a row and then the runner did a one-week taper. The result? 2:51 high. Had he not pulled a hamsting 8 days before the trying to prove something to himself by running all-out on the last rep of a 7 x 1 mile workout, I am sure he would have run 2:45 in the marathon race.

The point is this: Big Workouts, which are my way of saying high volume runs, which include quality/solid/high intensity in them, are excellent, perhaps the best, indicator of racing performance. (Races such as 15km, 10-miles, 20km, and half-marathon are certainly hard distance runs, which can become Big Workouts, if you do a long warm up or cool down.)

As a general rule, use your half-marathon time as a predictor of a target marathon time. But, use some common sense: add time to the predicted marathon time; if the number and quality of Big Workouts/long, fast runs was not solid/numerous. 

Adjustments:

After an ideal buildup, a runner can add 5% to their half-marathon time: doubling it would be the predicted marathon time. Example: a world class runner covers a half-marathon (when fresh) in 60 minutes even. Adding 5% to that time equals 63 minutes. Doubling that adjustment equals 2:06 - his target marathon time. The proviso: he must have run several Big Workouts/long, fast runs successfully during the marathon training buildup (about 3 months, in total).

Let's say he has a mediocre marathon buildup, but he hits 60 flat in the half-marathon because he has a fantastic background in the 10k, he probably will have to add about 6-8% to his per half-marathon time and double it; to predict his marathon time and average pace to run. Thus, his new predicted time range would be 2:07:12 (4:51+ per mile), which is +6%, to 2:09:36 (4:56.6+ per mile), which is +8%.

Back to you, Maccy:

Let's say you ran a half-marathon in the last month in a time of 80 minutes, flat. Add 5% to that and you'd have 84 minutes, flat. Double that and you have 2:48 as your prected marathon time (provided you prepared specifically for the marathon and you did a very good job taking care of the details, such as hydration, fueling, and pacing).  But, if you didn't have a good marathon buildup (meaning you didn't run many long runs with quality and succeeded), then start with +8% as your realistic marathon pace. Adding 8% to your half-marathon pace puts the total at 86:24. Doubling that equals 2:52:48 as your predicted marathon time.

Application:

A good way of dealing with the above situation is simply running the first 10 miles at 2:52:48 pace and seeing how it goes. If you feel fresh at 10 miles,  you probably can speed up (gradually) a few seconds per mile. If you feel so-so, you probably should stay at 2:52:48 pace through 20 miles and re-evaluate. If you feel ok there, give it a go and run faster, but be smart and only increase the pace by a small amount.

Reality:

Normally, the last 8.2 km of marathon races are where goal marathon times are shot, I have found.  Runners tend to get all pumped up and push the pace from around 16-18 to 21 miles, but then the wheels start falling off.

Lesson:

Gradually increase the pace during marathon races, always. (Be extra conservative about pace increases; following sub-optimal training buildups.)

Conclusion:

Above all, be realistic!  You can't go wrong by being realistic. In marathon racing, you get yourself in a heap of trouble shooting for fast times, when you have a modest marathon training buildup. Using +7% to +8% is a very smart idea, in most cases. You can always speed up, you reach the mid or late miles and feel fresh. If you run too fast early; heaven help you because that's the only thing that's going to work!

Take care,

Tinman
Last edited by Tinman on Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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maccy

Re: 3 week taper, or squeeze in a final Long Run and do a two week taper?

Post by maccy » Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:45 pm

Thanks for the reply Tinman, and to everyone else. I appreciate the time you all took to formulate replies.

Tinman, going back to your 5 to 8% idea, I'm quite happy that choosing the 8% route still leaves me very close to what I was going for anyway, based on my last half marathon. Only problem is, basing it on a half marathon time is tricky for me. The last one I did properly was in November. I feel I am in much better shape now, but this is subjective. But in support of that view:

I averaged 40km a week for the 10 weeks preceding that November half, and I've averaged 56km in the last 10 weeks before my marathon. Both not great, but an indication.
I didnt do any long runs for my Half, maxing at 13km, but mostly 9 to 11km runs. For the marathon I've done 2 x 27km runs, 3 x runs of 32km or more, and 3 x 21km at marathon pace. I did your 12 miles at MP + 10secs session yesterday, and was very happy at how comfortable it felt all the way thru. Towards the end it still didn't feel hard at all to maintain, however I didn't have an HR strap on so don't know what the heart was saying. But it felt good, almost conversational pace up til near the end. Its also comforting to know it was done on not fully rested legs, did a long run 5 days before and a 5km race 2 days before. (only race I've done this year, I was obliged to do it for my club)

The big difference is that the Half done in November came after 10km races the preceding two weekends, and races throughout the year, so my legs were race sharpened. If I did a Half now, having done marathon pace or slower all year, I'm not sure I could match it. But that's because I've been marathon training solely, what does an athlete base marathon goal pace on when not having raced for 5 months? My 5km race midweek is the only one so far, was 3 days after my Long run and done at about 8km PB pace, so I was fairly happy with that. But that's it race wise all year. I do feel that if I had 2 to 3 weeks of sharpening that I would match that November half, and that I'm in similar if not better condition, but I'm not sure whether to base your 5 to 8% rule on that run.

At the moment my marathon goal time is roughly 7 minutes slower than the marathon time predicted by my 10km best (based on age grading), which with sharpening i feel i could match in weeks, or come within 10 secs of. It was done about a year and a half ago.
Also, using your 8% rule applied to my November Half, it also comes to roughly 7 mins slower than the pace predicted from that 10km best.

Is this a reasonable pace to go for? Is it near to being too quick or is it clearly unreasonable?

Thanks for your time!

Maccy

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