Canberra Marathon: with just three weeks to go, it’s time to trust the process

With a 160 km week in the books, it's nearly time to start tapering for the Canberra Marathon.

T-minus three weeks until my first road race in more than a year: the Canberra Marathon.

The hard work is (almost) done and my body is feeling ready for the taper, which is fast approaching.

From a mileage perspective, this past week was my biggest of the marathon training block: 158 km, one tough 30 minute session, and a mighty 38 km long run on Sunday in some pretty horrid conditions.

At one point, we were literally running up-river on a flooded bike path, shielding our eyes from the blinding, sideways-falling sleet. Fun times, but as they say, whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

And no, I’m not dead. But I have been in the wars. My left foot and hamstring are both giving me some grief.

Pain management: a part of marathon training?

The plantar fasciitis issue is showing no signs of settling, and has me limping every morning when I get out of bed.

It seems to be okay running at speed, but I do grow increasingly conscious of the ache on longer runs.

The hamstring (presumably tendinopathy) is a bit more mysterious. It seems to be a coin-flip; one day no awareness of it, the next and it’s tight for the entire run.

My physiotherapist asked if there were certain aggravating factors. Did it hurt more during tempo runs, or going uphill? Nope. Sometimes it’s there in sessions, but sometimes it’s just as bothersome on easy recovery runs.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that both issues could be nagging me on race day, which isn’t ideal. All I can do is try my best to manage them over the next 20 days. And the taper should definitely do some good.

Trusting your training

The relative rest of two taper weeks is welcome. However, I find the most challenging thing about the taper is resisting the urge to do more. You suddenly have energy, and you feel like you want to get out and run.

As I come into this taper, I need to trust my coach, and trust the work that I’ve put in over the last three months of the build. And also, the last 18 months since my previous marathon. Nothing I do in the next three weeks is going to make me fitter, or stronger.

I’ll no doubt be having a few discussions with Barry over the next few weeks to really look at the particulars of how we want the race to unfold. We’ll make a game plan, work out pacing, and set our targets.

As long as I run within myself, and stick to the plan, I’ll be ready to race well at the Canberra Marathon.

Training week at a glance

  • Total KM: 158. Not quite 100 miles, but the closest I’ve ever come. Now it’s time to back things off.
  • Longest Run: 38.5 km. Rain, wind, and some good banter with the lads, all of whom are coming down for the Canberra Marathon festival. I ran 25 km with the group, then set out for 13.5 on my own, hitting a few hills and picking-up the pace, slightly. After last week’s tough marathon session, this run wasn’t about speed, but feeling out the distance and spending time on feet.
  • Toughest run: On Friday I ran a 30 minute fartlek (10 x 2 minutes on, 1 minute off). My coach wasn’t too prescriptive on paces. The efforts were meant to be “fast” and the recoveries “slow”. This shouldn’t have been a stressful workout, but I ran my first effort too fast (2:50/km) and quickly put myself in a deficit. I held on to 3:00-3:05/km average pace for the efforts, with a 3:30/km float for most of the run, but I slowed for the last few efforts, coming back into a headwind and feeling the hurt. For the workout, my average pace was about 3:12/km (equivalent to a 32 minute 10km).
  • Biggest confidence booster: The above session was a bit of a botch job. The focus should have been running in control. I finished feeling knackered, and arguably would have taken more away from the run if I ran slower on the efforts in favour of consistency. That said, I’m searching for positives. And the main takeaway from this run is that I know, when I lock into a rhythm and pace at the Canberra Marathon, I’ll be able to keep my heart rate and breathing under control, and feel comfortable.

The week ahead

I’ve spoken a bit about my taper for the Canberra Marathon, but it’s not here just yet. There’s still some work to get done this week.

I’ll run K reps at the track on Tuesday, and a solid tempo workout on Friday: 10 km at marathon pace, followed by 3 km that get progressively faster (3:15, 3:10, 3:05s). Then, in the afternoon, I’ll be into the physiotherapist for some treatment on my foot and hamstring.

With Canberra only 20 days away, there’s some nervousness starting to creep-in. But also some excitement.

Preparation and positivity

So much time and energy (mental and physical) is spent preparing for, and thinking about, the marathon. At times, it can feel all-consuming, Sometimes, I’m even running in my dreams…

I have high expectations, and I want to surpass them. But I’m also realistic. Things can go badly, and variables beyond my control might force you me adapt on the day, or on the fly.

That said, I want to come in ready. That means taking care of my body, but also staying focused, and channelling my nervousness and excitement into a positive mindset.

There’s a saying, Good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. I don’t want luck, I want to achieve what I’ve earned. This is my first opportunity to run a marathon in more than a year, and I’m prepared.

You can follow me on Strava. Or message me if you have any questions or tips at myles@runcreature.com. And you can help us grow RunCreature by reading and sharing our great content.

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I’m Myles Gough. I’m a distance runner, writer and teacher. I started RunCreature to tell stories about athletes, runners, and the issues that matter to our community. 

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