With only three weeks to go until the Celtic 100km the countdown has well and truly begun. Now is when I start to look back and wonder if I have done enough training (not that anything can be done about it now) and look ahead at what I should do for the next three weeks.
Looking back I am fairly confident with the training I've done. I did my last really long run last weekend - 51km. Felt very sluggish to start with but got quicker as I went without trying to and ran the last half 5 minutes quicker than the first, finishing in 3 hours 38 minutes, which if I could keep that pace up would give me a time for the 100km of around 7 hours 8min! Would be stoked with that! However running 51km in training when you can stop , fill up the water bottle, have a little rest at the traffic lights etc is different to a race and running 51km is very different to running 100km so I'm not getting carried away just yet. I will still be very happy with anything under 7 hours 45 and delighted with anything under 7.5hours. Checking through the records I noticed that only a couple of Aussies have run faster than 7.5 hours over the last few years so it is obviously not an easy thing to do.
So what do I do over the last three weeks to fully prepare myself?
The task of the next three weeks is to manage both the physical and mental aspects to get me into the best shape possible for the race.
Physically my endurance has reached is peak and will remain there for at least a month. Endurance training takes a lot out of the legs and time is needed to let them fully recover so I can derive the full benefit of all those long miles. This means no more really long runs and a decrease in overall mileage. When we run on tired legs they dont function as efficiently as if they were fully rested so it is important to make sure you start a race with legs as fresh and recovered as possible.
The problem is if you rest them by doing nothing they very quickly start losing the conditioning you have worked so hard to put into them. The trick is to reduce the overall mileage but increase the speed of the runs so you still achieve a training effect but without the damage to the muscles the long runs cause.
With this in mind I have already dropped my weekly mileage down to 65 this week from 80 last week, next weeks will be 50-60, the week after 40-50 and the final week around 10.
I already do one speed session at the track but I will include two other sessions where I perform intervals of around 10-15 mins running sub 4min k's. I've managed to run all my long runs at or faster than 7 hour 30 min 100km pace. The idea being that doing so many miles at that pace conditions the legs to be able to run at that pace no matter how tired they are. The idea of increasing the speed work now is if I spend the next thre weeks running around 4mins per km then running 4mins 30 per km will seem very easy. It is impossible to do this with high mileage as the legs are just too tired but with the decreased mileage it now becomes possible.
The other factor to pay careful attention to is any litte niggles, aches, strains etc. A small niggle that doesn't really bother you in a 22 mile run may turn into something major after 40 miles so every little ache needs to be addressed. This means more stretching, hot/cold treatments, massage and functional movement exercises to ensure every muscle is ready to go come March 28. It also means really listening to your body and not sticking rigidly to a training plan. I was supposed to go out for a run today but tight calves from yesterdays run meant I have erred on the side of caution and will have a day off and stretch, apply ice/heat and massage instead. It is not worth the risk of injury now.
It is a nervous time when every little niggle can feel like a disaster and so many what/ifs go through your mind. I know if I can stick to a regular massage, stretching and exercise routine I can get myself into the best possible state and give myself a great chance of a good race.
The mental preparation becomes even more important and I'll share a few of my tips on the next blog.