This week’s running – 29th of September to 5th of October 2014

Andy Yu at the 2014 Cardiff Half Marathon

Andy Yu at the 2014 Cardiff Half Marathon

This week was all about the taper for the Cardiff Half Marathon.

2 miles at target half marathon pace

Training regularly at Edgbaston Reservoir serves as a constant reminder of the time of year that we’re in. Thanks to the sign at the entrance, drivers are warned of the gates locking at dusk where at the height of summer, 9:45pm was the cut off. Now, it’s 7:15pm and continues to drop at an ever increasing rate.

I wanted to get one last target half marathon paced session in but without over-doing it. A single 2 mile lap of the reservoir would be all it took to remind the body of what the pace should have felt like. Due to poor timing on my part, I wasn’t as fuelled going into this as I would have liked. My stomach was rumbling and I really should have necked some energy drink or something before heading out. Hey-ho. The wind outside was also picking up, an ominous sign that the weather reports have all been picking up on. Getting down to it, the 2 mile effort felt fine and the pace finally came quite naturally to me.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session (can one single effort really be called a session?).

2x 800m at 5k pace

I have been conscious to keep some faster paced efforts in my training for a larger overall range. Like on Tuesday, I didn’t want to go absolutely bananas during the taper and felt 2x 800m reps would suffice to keep the body ticking over until Sunday’s race.

Once again, the reservoir was heaving with runners, all in training for their own local half marathon in a little more than two weeks’ time.

My two 800m reps felt fantastic. My cadence was high and I never felt like I was too stressed – a good sign that half marathon pace would feel manageable on Sunday.

Here’s the Garmin data for this session.

Taper time

Historically, I’ve never quite gotten the taper right before big races. Taper too much and I’ve felt sluggish come race day along with my legs forgetting how to run fast. Taper too little and I’m knackered come race day.

For this year’s Cardiff Half Marathon, I seemed to have gotten things just right – the Goldilocks approach to tapering! I took Friday off because it was my birthday, although others believe I took it off to better prepare myself for the race (and they’re probably right). I was positively charged and raring to go and the same held true on Saturday as well.

A couple of short, race pace sessions really was all I needed.

Cardiff Half Marathon 2014

For my full report on my 2014 Cardiff Half Marathon, please click here.

Where to now?

I love racing and that’s the primary driver behind why I train. To stay motivated, I always start booking up my next block of races to give me something to work towards.

So, what are the next targets to strive towards?

For 5k, I already said I wanted to hit 18:30 or better earlier in the summer. I was possibly a little hasty in my decision and am now back-peddling it to sub-18:45. With dramatically less daylight than before, it will increasingly become difficult for me to get speedwork completed without the aid of either a floodlit track or a treadmill. I really don’t want to sign back up to a gym because I can’t tell whether the treadmills have been calibrated accurately or not (probably not). This goal may have to go on the back-burner until next spring/summer, sadly.

The above 5k goal of 18:45 or better translates into a sub-39 minute 10k – a nice round target to lock on to. My worry about this goal is I usually use other 10k races to get myself race-fit and unfortunately, there’s a distinct lack of 10k races in the winter. This target may also have to wait until the summer or even early autumn to come to fruition.

Conveniently, an 18:45 5k also equates to a comfortable sub-87 minute half marathon. This I would like to try and aim for with a spring race, though I feel a lack of faster paced stuff could make this one tricky as well. Sub-88 minutes is realistically attainable and I would be disappointed in myself if I couldn’t achieve that. Dave and I are looking at a potential spring half marathon to tackle, so watch this space.

Of course, there is one more factor to consider and that’s the lack of a spring marathon for me. For the last two years, I’ve thrashed my body during the cold winter months to get it fighting fit for two London Marathons; without the need for monstrous mileage, a little more quality should creep through. I’ve kinda proven to myself that a dramatic increase in mileage does not automatically lead to faster performances in all distances.

Time for this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

Warn before passing

As a runner, you will pass other runners. This will happen no matter how slow you happen to be because there will always be someone slower than you are. As a courtesy, you should first alert them to your presence.

The proper distance from which to issue this warning is 12 to 25 feet, depending on your speed relative to the runner being passed. The greater your speed, the earlier you’ll want to issue the warning. The idea is for the passer to give the passee’s brain enough time to process the warning before the actual passing occurs.

The warning can take any number of forms: a cough, a shuffling of your feet, a verbal heads-up such as “Heads up!” Sometimes something as simple and subtle as a loud sniff can work. Other times – for instance, in a relatively loud, crowded park – you might want to ramp things up with a polite “Excuse me!” or “Passing on your left!” It’s a judgment call.

Note: Handheld air horns are not an acceptable form of warning. Even if they are hilarious.

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