Breathe out and… taper!

On Sunday I went out for my last Long Run before the London Marathon, and have now began my taper: a period of reduced training volume, aimed at allowing the body to rest and recover before the main event. It was quite a hot day (a taste of real summer in early April, which my body was completely unprepared for!) and the run came at the end of a series of hard workout sessions: A hard speed interval session on Friday, a Parkrun ran at race pace on Saturday and then this Long Run in the heat on the Sunday…

Track and field training…

With the lovely weather, Demi and Philip came along to Braunstone Park on Saturday to watch daddy run, and so did Kyriakos’ family, which made it a lovely and more sociable morning in the park! It looks like the support had an effect on both of us too, with Kyriako smashing through another PB (he is on a roll!), while I managed to set my best time since my 2013 peak, and to get within a minute of my all time 5k PB! It’s a long way back to my peak fitness, but I’ve passed the frustrating “I’m too unfit!” phase now, and I’m enjoying evolving into something resembling my former, faster self!

Sunday’s Long Run brought me back down to Earth with a bit of a thump though: It ended up being much harder than I felt it should be, given all the training I have done to date and compared to how relaxed previous weeks’ Long Runs have been… It could it be the heat, the tiredness in the legs from two hard back-to-back sessions, the accumulated fatigue from the training so far… or a combination of all of the above!

Which makes the two-week taper all the more welcome (and essential)! Training will continue, but at a reduced volume to keep my fitness to the level it is while allowing my body to recover, and its intensity will change to match my marathon race pace a bit more. Paradoxically, this is the training phase most runners find the hardest to cope with, wondering if they have trained hard enough or whether they should sneak an extra Long Run in (the answer is absolutely not!), finding it difficult to adjust to a lower training volume (exercise can be very addictive!) and feeling their stress levels rise, as the race day is approaching and the exercise-induced endorphins are dropping…

The marathons I have run in the past protect me from the temptation to add extra training at a time when I should be maintaining and resting (I’ve made that mistake in the past!), and Philip will provide a more than adequate replacement therapy for any running withdrawal symptoms! Which leaves me with only pre-race stress to contend with…

This too is very much reduced compared to previous marathons (but ask me again two days before the race!), although there is an element of regret as I say this… But this is a subject for a blog post of its own!

For the time being my objectives for the next two weeks are:

1) Enjoy the tail end of the training: volume is coming down, mid-week training sessions are now  done in the light of day, no more stupidly long Long Runs to do (well… there is that one on the 23rd, but that doesn’t count as training)!

2) Don’t get injured! No seriously… I’ve pulled a muscle repotting plants a few days before a marathon before…

3) Don’t put on weight over Easter! (With reduced running, a weekend of Greek food and English chocolate… good luck with that!)

4) And reflect on how far you’ve come since December… I always knew that it was a bit of a foolhardy decision signing up to run a marathon four months after our first baby was due, especially with no other family around to act as a safety net: The past four months haven’t been easy, and getting out of bed earlier on a Sunday than on a weekday to go out for 20 mile runs wasn’t even the hardest bit! But now the winter is over, training is winding down, divorce proceedings have not been announced, the Social Services have not felt compelled to rescue Philip yet, and we still have the capacity to laugh in our house (even if it’s the manic laughter of the sleep-deprived)! And that must count as a success at some level, regardless of what happens on the 23rd!

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It took a very special set of circumstances for me to even consider running a marathon at this point in time, and it’s all down to the London Transport Museum for offering me their charity place in the 2017 London Marathon! It is a charity I am proud to be associated with, and I know many of you have made very generous contributions to my fundraising either directly online, or by participating in the various fundraising activities (which usually involve eating, in some form or another!) If you have not yet done so, but wish you had, rejoice: all you need to do is follow the link below and you too can be counted amongst that very select band, my fundraising supporters:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LeonardSymeonides

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