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Paris Marathon training: Week 21

March 28, 2010

The taper has started. Having spent the last 20 weeks gradually building the distance that I run, up to about 50 miles a week, I’ve now switched to reducing the volume of my training in the run-up to the marathon. The shift in focus feels a little strange having become so accustomed to running so much, but its not an unwelcome change.

When talking to friends about the long Sunday runs, the question of boredom usually crops up. I still maintain that long-distance running isn’t boring – it’s quite nice to have some head space with few distractions – but it can be a little demoralising.

I’ve run essentially the same course for the past month or so, each Sunday. While there are particular highlights, there are also some dragging stretches. Around the 24-mile mark, there is a turn that takes you a slightly longer way back home over some pot-holed gravel tracks and next to a sewerage station. At precisely that point, relatively low on energy, feeling fatigued, the run can feel brutal.

Bournemouth, England, United-Kingdom
For once, the sunshine coast lived up to its name. Image via Wikipedia

And so it was a welcome change to run a different route on Sunday. I was visiting family in Bournemouth and so took the opportunity to have a long run along the seafront. Setting off from Southbourne, I ran along the cliffs and to the summit of Hengistbury Head, then back along the promenade through Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth Pier, and on to a lap around the perilous-but-pricey Sandbanks before turning back to Southbourne.

It must have been one of the hottest days of the year, with blazing sunshine drawing what felt like half of Bournemouth’s population down to the promenade. There were a lot of runners, too, all darting between gaps in the dog walkers and families. Having run so many solitary miles (on my Abingdon-to-Didcot route I see very few other runners), there was something quite motivating about not being the only slightly unhinged runner.

This is a relief to me. Looking at the course of the Paris Marathon, I think it’s likely that there will be quite a few miles with little to no support from spectators. But if I can keep motivated and focused through the presence of other runners, it might make the dark miles more bearable.

Sunday: 34.7km (21.5 miles) @ 4:37 per km

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 20km @ 4:20 per km

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 10.5km @ 3:55 per km

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Golf… does that count as cross training?

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you know I’m running the Paris Marathon in just two weeks’ time to raise money for The Stroke Association. I’ve set myself the target of raising £1000 – the total raised so far currently stands at £821.39. With the marathon and the goal fundraising amount so close, it’s time to go for the final push. If you’re one of the many people who have given, thanks so much. If you’ve not yet dug deep, please head over to my JustGiving page or ask about the traditional offline sponsorship form. Don’t make me get all Bob Geldof now…

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