I’m not really looking forward to the next phase in my training. The taper. The taper is when I should taper off my training and not run as far, or as fast, or as often. This is what I’ll be doing for the last two weeks before the half-marathon. The goal of the taper is to rest up and give your muscles some recovery time before race day. The secondary goal of the taper is to keep you free from injury before the race!
I actually like running longer distances, tempo runs, and interval runs. Today, for instance, I got up and ran 10 miles at what I consider to be my race pace, about 9 minutes per mile. It was actually very nice, except for the wind blowing off the lake. Not that the wind was cold, that was actually refreshing, it’s that the wind was blowing so hard, I think it actually slowed me down a bit.
The longer distances are the times when I can usually just shut off my mind and run. No thinking required. It’s truly a moment of Zen for me. I pushed myself today, running at the 9 minute pace, but that was the only thing I thought about. I didn’t think about the project that didn’t go so well the night before at work, I didn’t think about the leaves I (still) need to clean up in the yard, and I didn’t think about how tired I was. I think that’s the beauty of the long runs for me. I get tired, but I don’t notice it until I stop running. This happens on shorter runs, too, but it’s amplified on the long runs. Doing long runs of 10 to 15 miles these last few weeks has actually led me to consider doing a full marathon next year.
The only fun I can have Monday through Friday (unless I work nights), when I have less time to run, is to do what are called tempo runs or to run intervals. Tempo runs are usually shorter distances that are run a little faster than your body naturally wants to. They are important, because they train your muscles to run faster for longer periods of time. I like tempo runs, but intervals are more fun for me. I’ll go out and run 3 minutes as fast as I can, then spend two minutes at a slower pace, whatever is comfortable, repeating the cycle for however long I have to run that day. I record some of my fastest times doing intervals, but I usually can’t go further than 4 miles. Of course, 4 miles is perfect during the week when I have less than an hour to run before work.
- February Training Update