Time to Taper

My long runs are done! As of now I am on taper!

 

Below I am going to detail my last two long runs as these have definitely been the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far in my training.

 

[Long Run 1 – 17.5 Miles]

Last week I ran 17.5 miles. It was the furthest I had ever run by around 4 miles and you could tell.

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The first 13 miles was lovely. My legs felt good, the weather was lovely and my route took me along some riverside single-track for a good portion of the run.

By mile 14 though, I was starting to feel like I was running on empty. My legs were tired and my pace was starting to drop. It also didn’t help that I had spent the last two miles steadily climbing. It was by no means a large hill, but it was enough of an incline to sap the energy from my legs.

Luckily what goes up must come down and I got a good mile of downhill which pushed me over the 15 mile mark and I thought I would be ok with the last 2.5 miles.

Unfortunately as soon as the ground levelled out again I hit a proverbial wall. I’ve heard so many people say the same thing but I’ve never truly understood what they meant by it. Sure, I’ve been tired on my long runs before but never have I felt like calling it a day and getting a lift home and this was exactly how I felt.

I knew I only had 2 miles left, but I just couldn’t bring myself to push on. As well as the tiredness, the pain from the blister on my foot suddenly decided to take centre-stage in my mind as though my body was presenting me with every reason it could think of to make me stop.

I don’t remember what eventually forced me out of the funk I was in, but before long I was placing one foot in front of the other and hobbling my way to the finish line.

It wasn’t a quick 2 miles. It involved multiple stints of walking and many inner-arguments with myself about why running is the worst of the past-times I’ve decided to ensue.

But eventually I made it to the finish line and with it came the rush of endorphins and the realisation that I had just run 17 and a half miles and almost immediately all the regret was gone.

 

[Long Run 2 – 20 Miles]

It was my last scheduled long run before the taper. It was originally meant to be on Sunday, but due to being in Manchester all weekend for a stag-do, it got pushed back a couple of days.

 

To say I was not looking forward to this one would be an understatement. After thinking back to the last few miles of last week’s run, I was trying to come up with every possible excuse as to why I shouldn’t be doing this.

These excuses included (among many others):

  • “I brought the wrong socks”
  • “I didn’t eat the right thing at lunch”
  • “It’s very warm out and I forgot to bring sun screen”
  • “It’ll be too late by the time I finish”
  • “Some Marathon plans only advise a max long run of 16 miles”

The last one was my favourite. I hadn’t been following a 16 mile max plan for the rest of my training, but my illogical brain decided that tonight would be the perfect time to start.

Anyway, once I convinced myself that I had no rational excuse to back out, I donned my gear and set off.

I was running an out and back on a 10 mile route that I have previously used when running home from work, so knew the route well (at least in one direction). It’s relatively flat and off the main roads for the most part.

The first 6-7 miles were uneventful and with the help of one of Dan Carlin’s ‘Hardcore History’ podcasts (highly recommended by the way!), the miles flew by.

At mile 8 I noticed that the blisters that had been ailing me on my last long run were becoming sore again, and before long I could tell that they had re-blistered as the pain was pretty bad.

I hit the turnaround point at mile 10 and, with the assistance of my girlfriend who had come out to meet me, had a quick break to sort out my blisters.

With my foot dried off and a fresh application of Body Glide (Another HIGHLY recommended product) I set off back the way I had come for the return leg. My foot was still sore, but it was manageable and I managed to keep to my intended pace over the next 7-8 miles.

It was the final two that really hurt though. By this point my legs were really tired and the last 18 miles of pounding was really taking its toll. My pace had slowed dramatically and each mile seemed to last an age.

With about half a mile to go, my legs gave up and I was slowed to a walk. I was originally just going to catch my breath before starting again, but my legs had other ideas. I tried a couple of times to get them moving again but they weren’t having it. I had run out of ideas.

Thankfully this was solved for me by pride. I heard a car turn onto the country lane I was on and, not wanting to look like I had given up, my legs powered back into action.

A few seconds later the same car starts blaring its horn at me and as it passes the driver and passenger started shouting…

Thankfully it wasn’t abuse but cheers of encouragement. It was two of my friends (one of whom will also be running Edinburgh marathon herself) who had come to see finish my longest run.

They sped past and parked up at the finish spot then one of them ran back to where I was and ran in the last few hundred yards with me.

It was a much needed boost at a point where I was feeling pretty low and I was truly surprised by how a small amount of encouragement (and the associated adrenaline) can power you on when you have all but given up.

It is precisely this that I will be relying on to push me that remaining 6 miles in just over 2 weeks!

 

Which podcasts do you listen to on your long runs?

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