Man I just never see it coming, but the doldrums of marathon training have officially arrived. Fortunately, timing is everything, and I am only one week away from the official start of the taper. Last year this point arrived 4 weeks away from taper, and virtually killed the main training period for the marathon. This year I have been able to stay focussed and get my key workouts in for the past 4 weeks.
I seem to get to this point during every marathon training season, I feel totally unmotivated to run. Once I force myself to go out, I always enjoy it, but getting out the door gets harder and harder every day. This was especially true for my interval workout today. I did not want to go to the gym, once I was there I did not want to run on the treadmill, once I was running I did not want to start my intervals. Instead I just went through the motions, not allowing myself to walk away, and ended up having a very successful workout.
I made it to 10x800m today, which is a milestone in all of my marathon training seasons. The 10x800 workout (invented by Bart Yasso of Runner's World) says that you should be able to run 10x800m repeats with 90s rest in between at the corresponding minute:second time that your hour:minute marathon goal is. In other words, I have been aiming to run all of the 800s at 6:18 pace (about 3:07 per 800) and my marathon goal is sub 3:10. In past years I have kicked off marathon training with 6-8 800s and tried to hold on the entire 16 weeks, but this year I fixed the pace and starting from 4x800, slowly worked my way up. I think this method has been successful in that I haven't burned out too early this year. Today's result gives me the confidence I need to start tapering, knowing that the hard work has been successful.
Another point of excitement is that I have scheduled a training race this year, so I will race a half marathon (see sidebar) on Sunday. This will be a great change of pace from the weekly long run and I can get away with skipping my tempo run next week as well. My plan is to run the half marathon at my marathon goal pace (7:15 minutes/mile) which should have me finish around 1:35. I most likely could run faster than that, but the "A" race is the marathon and I don't want to be too sore so that I can still complete my workouts next week. I still have another interval session and a 20 on the weekend to do next week before the taper. It looks like the weather may be the best factor in keeping me honest as we are due to get a fair amount of snow on Saturday.