Wings For Life World Run Training: Taper. I will need every bit of the 2% improvement a good taper can give

There were 5 peak runs I wanted to hit before I began my taper for the Wings For Life World Run.


The first of the peak runs went well. The other 4 not quite so well.


Information and insight is what those runs gave me. How does it all stack up against my goal?

Make the Wings For Life World Run at Melbourne an ultra marathon.


Check out the goals and plan:





It is a matter of making the mathematics fit. Write it out on paper. Cement the numbers in the brain. Back it up with the Garmin. Add in some effort. Simple.


A relaxed warm up and it’s time to really run. Five repeats of 5000m with 1000m in between. Running right on or just above predicted marathon race pace. It should be doable as 25km is a lot less than 42.195km. Even with the slightly easier 1000m it is still only takes the distance up to 29km.


Through the first repeat. There was a smoothness that made me happy. It was nice to get the numbers all matching. Coasting through the 1000m brought up to the second 5000m sooner than I realised. The alert buzzed on my wrist and the pace was dialled back up.


Second time around the numbers still matched up. One difference. My legs hurt a little. This was unexpected, but nothing to worry about.


Keeping the times nice and neat I completed the 3rd 5000m repeat. My mind was good. I was enjoying the run. My energy levels were high. The intensity felt about right. My legs on the other hand didn’t feel right. They were taking a beating. Something a bit short of taking a hammer to them.


Now the 4th repeat wasn’t so pleasant. Each step shot pain through my legs. It should feel better than this. I was able to hold onto my pace. Those numbers still looked good. Harder to achieve this time. So I relaxed as much as I could during the 1000m recovery run.


My legs still hurt.


“Last one.. fast one.. last one.. fast one..”


Pushing the mantra through my head. It wasn’t enough to override my body. The muscles in legs began cramping only a short way into the last repeat. My quads kept locking up. My lower legs refused to coordinate. Energy levels were still high. My heart and lungs weren’t screaming for relief. Motivation strong.


It wasn’t enough.


My legs just wouldn’t do what I demanded of them.


Running was reduced to an awkward shuffle. That wasn’t going to benefit me anymore so I called an end to the session. On the slow trip home was time to reflect.


What’s good?




With a bank of 30km to 40km runs behind me the distance is obtainable. This is reinforced with consistently running over 80km per week, with a string of over 100km for 4 weeks in a row. The base is there.


Fuel mix


Worried I was burning too much glycogen at the start of peak training. Coming off a good 10km and Half Marathon meant I was comfortable with the speed. I wondered if I’d gone too far in working on that pace. As the peak runs unfolded it was clear the fat versus carbohydrate mix wasn’t my limiter. Energy levels even as my legs fell apart were high. I wasn’t getting those feelings of glycogen depletion. No big suck out of energy. Adding in some carbohydrate loading and fuelling on race day should see this covered.


Sense Of Pace


It’s funny how no matter how fit I am in any other endeavour, if I don’t feel fit in running, then I just don’t feel fit. Right now I feel run fit. Having worked back a lot of my running fitness from 10 years past. When I am truly run fit I become so much more in tune to my body. I become so much more sensitive to form and pace.


Adding to being more sensitive I put in a lot of work at understanding what different paces feel like. This is one of the main aspects I work on during the peak runs. Over the last couple of runs I found I could easily pick my pace to the second. Even allowing for fatigue, gradient and wind.


What I’m Worried About


One thing only.


The ability of my legs to hold the pace for long enough.


In the peak runs the limiter has been muscle fatigue. Not just soreness. Pain I can deal with. It is the ability of the muscles to keep working. Similar to cramping. Basically it comes back to conditioning of the muscles themselves.


A lot has gone well in training over the last few months. There are still some aspects I have been missing. I’ve deliberating kept away from hard down hill running. Still having to tape my ankle half the high ankle sprain last May means I am wary of what will aggravate it. The reduced down hill training has reduced my fatigue resistance to the impact of running fast over a long time.


The Taper


The hard work is all done. No more big runs until race day. This puts me into a race taper.


I’m really hoping the taper can work some magic. I will need every benefit I can get out of the taper. Maybe it allow for some adaptions in my muscles so I can hold onto the right pace for long enough. It is a big ask.


I will need every bit of the 2% improvement a good taper can give. Plus something extra.


Race Plan


My race plan is built on hope. The numbers from my key runs tell me I’m not quite where I need to be. Science suggests another month would get me there. There is also an art to training and racing. I’m going to lean heavily on the art side.


There’s not point in conservative. I’m still going to try and run beyond the 42.195km at the Wings For Life World Run. I may crash and burn before I reach my goal. If that happens I will know it wasn’t through lack of effort.


On the other hand. It just might work.