Less than two weeks to Brighton and it’s everyone’s least favourite part of marathon training, the taper. I started mine this week after my last long run on Sunday. I was originally leaning towards doing that run three weeks out, but the weekend before last the only thing running was my nose as I came down with a heavy cold. I’d had a bit of a cough and felt a little under the weather but had carried on running, albeit easy paced, however by Friday I wasn’t feeling great and had to rest up for a few days. Fortunately it only lasted a couple of days and was able to resume training on the Tuesday after, and I’m working on the basis that I shouldn’t get another one before the race now!
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, which always makes getting out the door for a run so much easier, even more sore when you’ve missed an hours sleep with the clocks changing. Rather than run from home I’d mapped out a route based around the River Medway footpath, so I drove down to Lockmeadow in Maidstone, which is right by the river and you can park for free on Sunday. My intention was to run very slowly, somewhere around 11 minute miles,which I knew would be hard as I find it really difficult not to start speeding up at that pace.
I headed out of town in a south west direction, along the newly surfaced cycle path, which has been a somewhat controversial development which I’ll maybe talk about in a later blog, but for today I was happy that the path was open as stretches have been closed over the winter whilst the works were undertaken. The great thing about running in that direction is that after half a mile you go under an old railway bridge and all of a sudden you’ve left the town behind and are in the countryside. I followed the path alongside the river through the village of East Farleigh and along to the old bridge at Teston. From there I crossed the river and briefly headed away from the river on the other side before I got back to East Farleigh and rejoined the footpath retracing my steps back towards town. At this point I saw what was to the first of six Harriers out running that morning, all lured out by a combination of nice weather and impending spring marathons!
Returning briefly to my car to top up my water bottle I’d run 8 miles at around 10:50 minutes per mile pace, which was OK, and I’d settled into a nice rhythm. I then set off again this time heading north through town and then onto a quieter stretch of the path, that takes you past the Malta Inn, a popular riverside pub and towards the old village of Aylesford, which requires a slight detour away from the river again as the cyclepath is still being worked on. After crossing the river again I left it behind running through a newer part of Aylesford, a combination of empty abandoned factories and new housing developments.
Once through this however I reached Leybourne Lakes, a set of former quarries that have now become a nice country park, and which is home to one of our local Parkruns now. I was around two thirds of the way around my run at this point, I was still sticking to around the pace I’d aimed for and my legs were feeling fine too. After a lap of the lake it was back to town the same way I’d came, and while my legs did start to feel the effects of the distance I still felt good and could have carried on running if I’d wanted too, but 22 miles was just fine on this occasion!
I came home in 3 hours 56 minutes, at an average pace of 10:45 minutes per mile, which whilst slightly faster than my plan was absolutely fine. The other positive was that once again I didn’t use any gels, just relying on two Eat Natural bars that I ate as I ran at various points, so I’m now pretty confident that I can do the full marathon without them. I did take some with me but never considered using them at any point.
I really should have done some foam rolling and stretching in the afternoon but with other things to do (mainly catching up on some sleep!) it never happened. My quads suffered a bit Monday and Tuesday but I ran to and from work Monday evening/Tuesday morning and by Wednesday they were feeling far less sore.
The plan for the rest of this week is some swimming and core work, with Parkrun on Saturday then the Paddock Wood Half Marathon on Sunday. I need to inject a little bit of speed back into my training so Parkrun will be ideal, and I won’t be racing the half, I’m planning on 10:00-10:30 minutes per mile and to just enjoy a run around the lovely Kent countryside, so I’ll be back next week to report on that and preview the big day!