How to tame the taper and not obsess about your predicted marathon time

With so many things I should be doing today (pursuing job leads, paying bills, going through a pile of mail I picked up at my daughter’s apartment last week, networking, folding laundry…), I’ve instead spend my morning obsessing about my predicted marathon time.

This past weekend was “the (really) long run” for those training for the Chicago Marathon (or any other races taking place Columbus Day weekend). For me that was 22 miles at a 10:30 pace. I did Yasso 800s on the track on Tuesday night (at an average of 4:06) and now with a little more than two weeks to the big day, I am officially in taper mode.

Posted in a group on Facebook. Not sure who to give credit to. 🙁

While I am not yet experiencing the effects of the cut back on training, my mind is no longer distracted by the training schedule and can only think about race day. My goal is to finish strong, without hitting the wall, and at a decent pace. I’m shooting for a 4:09 finishing time (9:30 pace). That will put me in striking range for a BQ for my next marathon in February – a very realistic goal given the almost four more months of training ahead. 

I’m not sure if the pace may too aggressive. I’m not sure if my training runs where done at the right pace. I tried no less than nine different marathon time prediction calculators that gave me a range from 3:59:32 to 4:47:53. I could have figured that out on my own given my range of fishing times in my first eight marathons over the last 22 years. Ugh.

There are a lot of factors those calculators don’t account for (gender, age, training plan, experience) and the things they do factor in may not be a true indicator of current fitness level. My last half marathon time, for example, was on a hot day in July at the beginning of training as I was still doing PT for a hip issue that is no longer an issue. And if they ask the average number of miles per week in your training, there’s no question about the quality or intensity of those miles. If you still want to get a prediction using one of these methods however, read this Strava Blog that provides some good links.

The issue with the taper is that you suddenly have a whole bunch of energy you need to conserve and your mind has nothing to do but formulate self-doubt and undermine all the mental fortitude developed over the last 18 weeks of training. You’d think this being my ninth time doing this, I’d have a better strategy. I don’t.

I’m trying my best to relax – first by getting my thoughts out of my head by writing this. Then maybe I’ll drink another glass of water, have some lunch (no carb-loading just yet!) and take the dog for a walk. Tonight I get to see my running Crew and burn off some of the crazy.

Over the next 16 days, the goal is to remember that I’ve done all I needed to do to get to the start line. “The hay is in the barn” as the saying goes. The marathon is simply a celebration of all the hard work. The day and the miles can be unpredictable. I will just bring my best self and enjoy the journey…just like life.

A constant reminder at one of my part-time jobs. 🙂 Deerfield, Illinois. September 2019.


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