Marathon Training: Week 21

Getting fresh

What’s the optimal way for us to use the final 2 weeks before the Queenstown Marathon?


In a word: Taper.


In a sentence: Ease off the really long hard training, sharpen up with short intense sessions, and add lots of recovery, so that you line up for the race as fresh and crisp as you can possibly be!


No cramming allowed

Some of you will be tempted to cram in “one last little bit” of hard training because you’ve missed some training over the last month or two from injury or from other time pressures. There will be some of you too, who are considering doing an extra-long run in the next 2 weeks because you’re worried about whether you can make the long distance on race day. Bad move! Research proves it. And I’ve been there, done that, losing races because I was over-cooked, tired. It’s too late now and you’ll get better results from your time and effort by freshening up with the schedule below.


Race-day research clearly shows that many athletes perform sub-optimally simply because on the start line they are still recovering from their training. Exercise science shows why too much last minute training is counter-productive: the gains in fitness are significantly over-shadowed by muscles that are tired and catabolic.


If you’re still worried, then be calm in the knowledge that it’s significantly better to line up on the start slightly underprepared but jumping out of your skin, than fatigued and tired from doing too much training close to the event.


Assure short recovery times

In 2 weeks there are no benefits from the really long sessions, because our bodies won’t recover enough by race day. However our bodies still benefit from intensity training, because our cardio-vascular, oxygen delivery system can still improve in 2 weeks, so long as we allow lots of recovery for our muscles between intervals within a session, and recovery between sessions.


We want to reduce the long Saturday run so your legs “bounce back” quickly in the following days. So then you’ll find it easy to increase your speed in the intervals, especially as we’re shortening them a little and spacing them out more to allow your heart-rate and energy levels to recover between each speedy sprint.


This will be your last time trial so enjoy recalling the improvement from your first TT!


Avoid all injury risk = thoroughly warm up and down

It’s time to banish any injury risk, by thoroughly warming up and warming down, especially around the interval sessions. It’s all but impossible to recover from injury in 2 weeks, so avoid all risky activities that could cause an injury such as tennis, water skiing and outrageous swinging from the chandelier (but more on the merits of pre-race coitus next week). So invest in all of your fantastic weeks of commitment by thinking cleverly and conservatively.


Week Twenty one training schedule:

Thursday 6th Nov

Warm-up jog; 20 minutes

Intervals x 6 of the following.

90 seconds hard. It's sprint this time! Ideally up a hill.

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again. Important to have a long 3 minute recovery to get heart rate down.

Warm-down jog; 20 minutes


Friday 7th Nov

Well earned REST DAY. Ideally book a sports massage for recovery.


Saturday 8th Nov

20 kilometers, easy endurance run, practice race food, drink, and clothing.

Start at 8 am.

Eat breakfast 2 hours prior.

Soft trails such as dirt, gravel, grass etc to avoid injury.

Stretch straight after, and ideally get a massage to aid recovery.


Sunday 9th Nov

Easy walk or hike, eg with friends or family. 45 mins. Make it scenic and fun.

Important to make it easy, to help recovery from yesterday’s long session. Alternatively, an easy bike ride or swim, or easy jog 45 mins.


Monday 10th Nov

Warm-up jog; 20 minutes

Intervals x 5 of the following:

90 seconds full-on sprint, ideally up a hill.

3 mins easy jog or walk, recovery; could be back down the hill to start again.

Warm-down jog; 20 minutes


Tuesday 11th Nov

Warm-up 15 mins.

Your last Time Trial! Do this in the morning if possible to simulate race start time.

Warm-down 10 mins.

Record you time. Notice the over all improvement from TT#1.


Wednesday 12th Nov

Steve’s Strength and conditioning clinic:

5:30pm sharp! til 6:30 pm Meet 5:25pm at the Tennis courts on the grassy banks Lake Avenue, Frankton, Queenstown.

Alternative: 45 mins, easy pace jogging with fartlek = speed play.. with 4 x3 mins effort (fast run) in the middle. Undulating small hills.

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