2 questions 2 weeks before tapering (Read 896 times)


    My first marathon will be on 2/19 so I basically have only 2 weeks of training left before tapering. There're two things that's been really bugging me that I want to find out...


    1) Do I need to end my training with a long 20+ miles run right before tapering? I understand that's how most of the training plans call for, but what if I had done some long runs further back in time? I've been doing about 40mpw since October and at least 13.1 every weekend. I had done 6 runs over 20 miles over that time, but my last 20 miler was back on 12/31. Will I need to do 20+ miles the next two weekends in order to not lose whatever endurance I had built up? I actually do want to run them but the pollen season has forced me to reconsider.


    2) I can not quite decide what pace group to join because I don't know realistically what my pace should be (I'm very poor at judging my pace so I prefer to just follow someone). I narrowed down the choices to 4:00 (9:10/mi), 4:10 (9:33/mi), and 4:25 (10:07/mi). I want to run well but not kill myself over it. The calculators put me sub 4:00 but I'm concerned if I'll be fit enough to maintain the predicted pace in the last 5 miles (which leads me to circle back to the first question, should I try to run another >20 miler in order to make a better prediction?). I just can't decide, maybe I should ask for a vote?


    Thanks for any feedback!

      1)  I don't think it will matter a bit, assuming your training has been otherwise on course since the December long run.


      2)  Don't believe the calculators until you have actually run a marathon.  They're better at predicting shorter races from the marathon than the other way around.  I think you are wise, being conservative on this.  I think you'll do alright, but only if you take it really easy in the first half of the race.


      Disclaimers:  I didn't look at your log, and others around here have much more wisdom and experience than I.

      Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.


      CPT Curmudgeon

        1) No.


        2) I'd go for the slowest group, and adjust based on how you feel at the halfway point, then at around mile 20.

          Take it for what it's worth, but this is what I've gleaned from my coach and what others have written:


          1) lower mileage runners do not need and should not do a two-week taper.  If you taper too much, too soon, when the mileage is on the lower end of marathon training to start with, you will start to lose endurance. I would not cut back my mileage until the last 7 to 10 days, perhaps later.   I also think it's wise to retain a little MP running, or faster, about 3 or 4 days before the marathon. If all you do is shuffle during your taper week, you'll get stale and race day your MP will feel a little uncomfortable. 


          2) The problem I have with pace groups is that it doesn't allow you to let the race come to you.  You're at the mercy of someone else and you'll feel obliged to keep up even if you have a few low points during the race.  I think this is very important in the early stages of the race. The advice I received is the first 10 miles should feel easy. Don't freak out if your first mile or two is slower than your desired average (in my last marathon, my slowest mile was my first mile, and about 20seconds slower than what I averaged). The next 10 miles will be moderately hard, but somewhere at the the 1/2M point, it will start to require a little more concentration to maintain your pace. The real "racing" effort, which to me is more about intense focus and concentration, should begin at mile 20. If you're struggling mightily before mile 20, you started too fast, and sadly, there's no going back. 


          Ideally, you would have had a few training runs to help you decide what pace you can reasonably shoot for. With one month to go, I don't think it's too late to do another longish run, or two,  to figure out what your "dream" MP is.   Don't do this test run in a rested/tapered state.  Do it as part of a normal training week. Pick your 18 to 20 mile run and during the last 5  to 10 miles, see what pace you can speed up to that feels just a bit uncomfortable.  If you're breathing really hard, that's too fast.  That's a pace that you might reasonably hold during the actual race in a tapered and fueled state.  

            1)  I don't think it will matter a bit, assuming your training has been otherwise on course since the December long run.

            I think it matters great deal.  If you do that (a 20-miler) now, it would probably be detrimental.   


            2) The problem I have with pace groups is that it doesn't allow you to let the race come to you. 


             Spot on! 


              I think it matters great deal.  If you do that (a 20-miler) now, it would probably be detrimental.   



              Her marathon is still a month away!    I believe she should do that 20 miler.  Smile


              Running is stupid


                i agree.  Do the 20.


                i would run your own race - pace groups can help some but experience your own miles & make adjustments according to YOU



                  I would do a 20mi this weekend (the 21st/22nd), drop it back to 15 or so on the 28th/29th, then back up to 20-21 on 4th/5th. It's been my experience the long run is the most critical portion of marathon training. It sounds like you've built up a lot of consistency over the training period which is good. You could probably also afford to increase your mileage ever so slightly over these weeks by about 5% per week without too much effort. 


                  As far as pace goes be conservative. If you find it too slow, you can always run faster later in the race. Don't pull the trigger on picking up the pace until 16 or later. Doing it the other way is much more uncomfortable. I've never heard an amateur marathoner lament that they had too much left at the end. 


                  Hope that helps. Good luck!

                  Prince of Fatness

                    1)  Do the long run, but don't get caught up in going for 20 miles.  Based on your log that will take you over 3 hours.  I'd want to keep it under 3 hours.  Cutting it to 2:30 - 2:45 won't cost you any endurance, that's still some good work.


                    2)  If you use a pacer just understand that there is a high likelihood that they will not run even splits.  Some will take it out fast and slow down later in the race, while others will do the opposite, etc.  See if you can talk with the pacers before the race and ask them what type of race they plan on running.  Make sure it agrees with how you want to run the race.


                    Good luck!



                      His marathon is still a month away!    I believe he should do that 20 miler.  Smile


                      Fixed. I think I need a better avatar pic.



                      In response to everyone's suggestions, I'm still *planning* to do a 20 miler if I can, subject to pollens not killing me. I was miserable for almost a week after each of my 2 previous weekend outings so that was the tradeoff. I am not dropping my long runs, it's just that I may be limited to ~13 miles on the TM instead (2 hours is a long time on the treadmill for me, plus spending any longer amount of time at the company gym is probably not a wise move...)


                      Is there another way to gain *similar* benefits as doing a 20 miler if I do have to keep myself on the TM for shorter time? ie: like doing 10 miles 2 days in a row, or running doubles for a couple days...etc? Or is it really the continuous ~3 hour run time that is the most essential?



                          I also think it's wise to retain a little MP running, or faster, about 3 or 4 days before the marathon.  


                        I agree.  As I understand it, the taper is to ensure that you're fresh and ready to go long on race day (full recovered, fully ready to go).  By running short (+/- 3 miles) and intense runs (at pace, or slightly faster than pace) you maintain your intensity while still maintaining you're fresh / ready feeling.



                        2017 Goals:

                        #1: Do what I can do (200+ training days, 200+ aerobic hours). 

                        #2: Race shape (1/2 marathon, 2 half Ironmans, marathon)

                        #3: Prepare for 2018


                          Blush  Sorry, you're just such a beautiful boy!


                          Running is stupid


                            Blush  Sorry, you're just such a beautiful boy man!


                            Haha. It's not the first time, maybe I need some kind of extreme makeover Tongue



                              Seems quite apparent that I'm the minority on suggesting NOT to do another 20-miler.  Well, I wouldn't take it personally.  But if I were coaching you, I would, first of all, not have you do so many "death march" of near 4-hour runs that would take you almost a week to recover.  You said you did 6 of them?  And, just taking a quick glance at your log, you seem to have been doing quite a few 2+hour runs (HMarathon?) week in and week out.  My warning is that, you continue doing training like that, chances are that you'll be toeing at the start of the marathon with dead legs.  Surely, as Tom had suggested, doing some MP run would help.  It seems what most people don't seem to understand is that the training effect don't show up the next day or the next week.  It takes your body some time to obsorb what you had done.  The way I suggested Kristen not to do too many (I think she only did one) long run after her first marathon in September till NYC marathon 2 years ago was because she just finished a full marathon (the one in September).  She has had a carried-over fitness.  The point is; if you've done all those long 20-milers and had done 6 of them, you're not going to lose it in 4 weeks.  The length of the taper depends on the individual but my wife usually took 3 to 4 weeks after her final long run till her marathon.  She was always more fresh than all the other training group friend who kept on doing long runs. 


                              Any training plan shall not be a crap-shooting plan.  Just put this here and slap that there and, oh, maybe I'll add this one here...is not a plan.  You need to figure out when you should be doing what and stay on the course.  There's really not much we don't know about training.  Whether we excute it correctly or not is a completely different story.  Most people look at things (training) in terms of this week and next week.  In reality, you need to look at training in terms of 3 months from now and 5 months from now.  And, don't mean to sound snobbish (Snobby, you know! ;o)) but most of those who recommend doing another 20-miler, well, how successful had your marathoning been?  Are you guys suggesting him to do another 20-miler for the sake of making his training log impressive or simply performing well on the race?

                                I think it matters great deal.  If you do that (a 20-miler) now, it would probably be detrimental.   



                                Actually, I'm with Nobby here (whew!), but I didn't make myself clear.  I intended to say that a 20 miler is not necessary at this point, after having done six of them earlier.

                                Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject. - S.J.