What to do in my last 8 days to hilly Marathon after imperfect training..


I'm running a marathon a week Saturday. Due to domestic circumstances, I've had a pretty rubbish training regime (husband breaking hip and what with children and work, there's only so much you can do). I did a 17.5 LSR 2.5 weeks ago, had to miss the following LSR and in my panic, after speaking to a friend who does not believe in tapering, ran a very hilly 20 mile on bank holiday monday. All my long runs are hilly. My knees are playing up (no change there) but my ankles unusually are painful. I'm icing periodically and given myself an extra rest day today. I've spent some quality time with RW forums on tapering tonight but wondering as I've been stupid enough to run more than I should have, what should I run in the next week. I know I should do some runs. I've given up the idea of an 18miler this weekend as suggested by unbelieving friend! Second marathon after slow marathon 5 years ago as a complete beginner and was aiming for significant time improvement given where I am generally in my running now so irritated at where I find myself now. So help to avoid injury and run the best I can, given my circumstances, would be helpful..  Really I have no idea at this stage what to do. V Long runs with hills c9.5-10m miles. I await the wisdom of RW forum. 


  • The exact shape of the taper may be debatable (a bit) but it is absolutely something you should do. It's too late to affect your fitness much (whether you train or do nothing until race day, either way) but you could certainly tire yourself so you don't get the time your existing fitness would justify. Do the taper that the programme you are following recommends, say 25% of the normal mileage but try to keep a bit of quality early in the week.

  • Yip - I would say taper too - you won't get any fitter in a week anyway so there's no point tiring yourself out for the sake of it!

    I'd say take the pressure off yourself and delay your PB attempt until you've had a better lead-up.  Enjoy this one and maybe count it towards building your endurance for the next one...  If you PB well that's just a bonus - if you don't well, hey - everyone needs a reason to keep training.

    Above all - have a lovely day out! Enjoy image

  • Training rarely goes to plan and self doubt/ frustration usually comes in when it is time to taper – that’s normal.

    I’m in my last week of a taper and this is what I am doing - Saturday park run (moderate effort), Sunday gentle long run (~10 miles easy) and then 3 or 4 short runs during the week with complete rest for two days before the race. You should probably do something similar - don’t over train and don’t worry now.

  • Thank you all. Comments and thoughts appreciated. By the time, I had re-read all the different training plan options and the taper threads last night and worried over what I hadn't done, I had gone a little mad. I will go for a run now and hopefully that will help the fizzy brain.

    Good luck Rob with your marathon.

  • Do very little in the final few days, if anything. Maybe 8 to 10 miles is the max this weekend, but if your knees and joints are sore, complete rest could be even better. You need to make it to the start line. It's better to be 5% under trained than 5% over trained, because that is defined as being injured.

    Concentrate on your food. You're not burning the calories so match the intake to your need (you may still be a little hungry, be careful). Thirsday, Friday, move diet towards carbs with less fat and less protein. Think about Saturday's breakfast and toilet strategy. What fuel for the race?
    Get your gear ready, prepare your support team, and as them for a little bit of Mum time.
    Avoid time on feet on Friday.
    On race day, the first 6 miles should feel like you've got the brakes on, mentally hold back the pace. The next 7 should be pleasant. The next 7 need a bit of focus. The final 6 need a lot of focus, but you've done the miles, have faith. It'll hurt, but pain is temporary, success is forever.
    When you finish, say "never again" then plan your next one with the other forumites.

  • Thanks again and for the tips for the day. It's very helpful. Terrible run last Thursday night, my legs were really tired and complaining all over but much better yesterday. Two more short runs and I'm done.

    On pace, my long runs are 9:30 to 10:15. The 20m was 10:15 but much hillier than the marathon will be. Should I pace at 9.45 or 10? Thoughts appreciated. 

  • Similar to Blisters advice - First 10 miles slow and comfortable (you need to be the judge of that, but it should be around your long steady run pace), Second 10 at modest effort and last 6 whatever you have left.

    Don't do what I did and go out so quick in the fist half that you feel like poop on the way back - it's a long demoralising run home if you do!

    Good luck.

  • Thanks for all the advice. I really kept in mind and particularly the advice from Blisters about splitting the race into 6, 7, 7, 6. I very nearly didn't run and left it until the morning of the race to definitely decide as my training has been shockingly off track. 

    I set off slow and really held back, it's 11 miles uphill to start and I kept it to around 10 (9.50-10.20mm depending on the hilliness). I was really terrified I wouldn't make it though the 26. I went for a 4:30 pace but knew it would be 4.30-4:45 given my training if I was lucky. My knees complained and I gave in to ibuprofen by 8. But I had my 6, 7, 7,6 plan. Then kept it steady and suddenly at 17 my legs just took off and I just really enjoyed it and my speed picked up and my splits from 18 are from 9.50 mm drop down to 9mm, really enjoying the steep downhills v fast and then 8 mm for the last 0.2m  and I made 4:20!  My second marathon, ran London in 2007 when I wasn't a runner and just did the 16 weeks training so this is a 45 min PB showing the running from the last 3 years. I'm so pleased I ran despite my  wobbles in the last couple of weeks. So thanks Runners World forumites - I really appreciated the advice on the day.

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