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I´ve already done 3 marathons on a beginner´s plan which I have customised over time. On the whole it has worked well. However, the first two marathons were hell for the last 9 miles as I already felt knackered before I would normally do in my 20 milers. I think the reason was that I cut down too much on my 3 week tapering. Last year before my spring marathon, however, I reduced the mileage by 30% each week from my total 40 miles at my peak, doing 7-7-14 3 weeks out, 5-5-9 two weeks out and 3-3-2 before the marathon.
On race day I tried to be conservative considering previous experience and finished very strong just under 4 hours with my previous pb being 4.03. I could have certainly done 10-15 minutes faster (I can do a half marathon in 1.45).
I was trying to do the same with my tapering before Blackpool on 7th April. But yesterday my long run averaged 18 miles instead of 20 as I am on holiday in Innsbruck, did not have a watch and got confused with time and distance on google maps.
My point is: I would still like to do a 20 before my race day (it helps me a lot psychologically). This means reducing the taper to two weeks although a 3 week taper is usually recommended for best performance. As I said, from experience doing more miles on my taperi last time seemed to certainly produce better results for me. Not only did I improve my time but I also finished very strong. So I am just wondering whether a two week taper could suit me better. Also considering that my training plan is not a hard one, more like a basic one in terms of mileage at least (speed is better than beginner´s but I have never done much speed work). Or whether three weeks are really better to recover and refuel glycogen.
Should probably add that 3 weeks before my marathon on my 18 miler yesterday I felt strong and was running at a brisk pace (2.35). I´m aiming for sub 3.45 on race day.