I was recently asked whether you really need to taper for a half marathon. Truth is, you should taper for any race, regardless of the distance. Whether it’s three days for a 5km or four weeks for a marathon, if you’re after a good performance, you need some sort of taper and, after 10 weeks of training, mine has finally arrived.

Training up to this point has largely gone well, and I firmly believe that I have given myself the best chance possible of achieving my race goal at the Coventry Half in two weeks time. I suppose it’s difficult to rate a training plan until you’ve completed the race, but the MY ASICS one that I’ve been following seems to have been good, gradually building up the base, followed by the speed and then the speed endurance.

Prior to the beginning of the taper, the plan has culminated in two 11 mile runs which were due to be run at 7:40 /mile, which is just 10 seconds slower than the intended race pace. The first one, although not quite managing the suggested pace, went well. It was quite a hilly route that I chose, one that contains more elevation gain than that of the race, and I finished feeling tired, but not completely spent. I finished the session with an average of 7:42, with a total gain of 150m. Only just out.

This week’s run however, was a little different. Ever since the snow had arrived towards the end of the week, I was holding off heading out, hoping for some rain or even a bit of sunshine to clear the paths. In the end it never came and on Sunday I was faced with either the treadmill or the potentially icy paths.

Having consulted others about the condition of the paths around Rugby, I decided that they were in no fit state for such a session, so I begrudgingly opted for the treadmill. Luckily, we have a treadmill in our lounge, so there was no trip to the gym necessary.

I hopped on and completed a few minutes warm up before resetting and setting the treadmill to 12.6kph (roughly 7:40 /mile). I played with the incline on a number of occasions, but that was it; 12.6kph for almost an hour and a half. What made matters worse, and is certainly a disadvantage to having the machine in the lounge, was that the children were around and wanted to watch their TV. No problem, I thought, I’ll get my wireless earphones out and listen to a podcast or some music. I don’t very often listen to anything whilst running, so it didn’t really come as any surprise when I found the earphones to be completely out of charge. Out of all other options, I just got on with it. 85 minutes running on the spot in my lounge, watching Paw Patrol on Nick Jr. is not my idea of Sunday fun and it was quite a mental battle.

Anyway, I finally finished the session and felt quite good afterwards. My footpod calibration was slightly out though, as the F5X had clocked 12 miles as opposed to 11, including 5km and 10km PB’s in the process. I’m inclined to stick with the treadmill reading of 18km in 1:25:44. I was surprised though, at how easy my breathing was throughout the session and how fresh my legs felt at the end. I appreciate that running on a treadmill does not have the same effect on your legs and joints as running on pavement, and the lack of no serious incline throughout made for a very unrealistic 11 miles.

With that in mind, it’s a wonder just how much I will have gained from the workout. That being said though, I was running, however easy under foot, for almost 90 minutes, during which my HR was up there in the threshold zone. I’ve definitely taken something from the session, but maybe not any learning from how it’s going to go on race day. Frustrating maybe, but it was either that or easy, slippery miles in the snow/ice.

From this point on, the main work is complete. I just need to ensure I maintain fitness and reach the start line on March 18 in the best condition possible, and certainly not injured. I’m confident. I’ve been training for a 1:38:15 but will be happy with anything under 1:40.

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