By Hayden Shearman // Wow it’s hard to believe that we’re inside two weeks to go till the great dance. The time when Aucklanders don their running shoes by the tens of thousands and glide, plod, stumble, waddle, and sprint their way across the Harbour Bridge.
So with just over a week to go what should we be doing? Here are my top four areas to focus on:
1. Goal Setting | A realistic, but challenging, goal is a vital ingredient for having an enjoyable day. At the start of the race it stops you running too hard when you’re feeling fresh and in the last few kilometres it keeps you honest so that you don’t take the foot off the gas when the going gets tough.
So how do you set a race goal? The best way is to do another race of a shorter distance (like 5k) and convert it to an equivalent time over the half or full marathon (this tool is great for those conversions). The ideal time to do that 5k race is 7-12 days before the big race as it will test where your current levels are at. Run it hard and then plug it into the calculator and get your projected time.
Now these conversions are only estimates so you will need to take it with a grain of salt and balance out that projection with your usual speed and feel of your longer runs. E.g. your 5k race might project a 2-hour half but your long runs have all been about 2:40 half marathon pace and you doubt you could go much faster. In such a case I would aim for a target time somewhere between the projected time and your actual long run speeds.
2. Speed Work | The 5k race above is a great way of getting in some speed work during your taper phase. Typically we want to make our taper phase a time for swapping quantity for quality, so the 5k race, a 20-30min tempo run (at a pace you could hold for an hour), 4x200m (at a pace you could hold for 5mins), 3x1k (at 10k race pace), and 3-5k at half or full marathon race pace are all great speed workouts to sharpen you for the marathon or half.
Be sure that the workouts aren’t maximum efforts (except for the 5k) in order to give yourself plenty of time to recover for race day.
3. Race Pace Practice | At least twice in the final two weeks before race day, I always make sure I do some running at my goal race pace so that I know what it feels like and when the starting gun is fired on Nov 2 my muscle memory will kick in and I will dive straight into my goal pace.
4. Prepping for Race Day | Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row checking your transport bookings (remember all races except the 2k start on the Shore so you’ll need a way to cross there or back other than running), race pack pick up times (i.e. do you need to get time off work or fit around kid’s sports to get to the pre-race expo?), racing kit (buy and train with any extra items you might need), having a look at the race map and course profile, organising your cheering squad and finally organising post race recovery (book a restaurant and a massage). Get this stuff sorted early to relieve some of the stress of race week. And the long weekend is the perfect time to do it!
Here are some other articles I have written related to tapering for the Auckland Marathon: