I've had the following half-written post sitting in my drafts folder for the past couple of weeks. I was probably going to write some more, but it is gone now. I will just pop this up as is in case it is of interest to someone and for my own future reference.
This chart shows a week by week summary of my training between Ohtawara marathon on November 23 and Tokyo (Feb 17). Things went pretty well up until the 23rd of December, just recovering and slowly building back up, but then the travel to Australia upset the usual routine, and although I managed to keep up reasonable mileage, I wasn't able to churn out the 110+ km weeks with 35+ km long runs that I felt were needed to go up another level in fitness. The inability to crank up both mileage and intensity was determined more by niggles than any other factor. I definitely had the motivation and opportunity to train more, but was constantly having to take a more conservative line just to keep my poor old old chassis on the road. The main injuries were the chronic problem in my left Achilles and then some recurrences of minor strains to the biceps femoris (one of the hamstring muscles) in both legs as well as a few other less serious niggles that just added up to make running a lot less enjoyable than it should have been.
Because of the niggles I had no particular problem doing a proper taper. I was reasonably keen to do another long run two weeks out, but knew it was too close to risk it. So after that it was a model taper except that there were not as many speed workouts as I would have liked, again, a decision taken to try to keep the injuries at bay.
Nutrition from Thursday to Saturday was key. I think the advice Joachim gave me about maltodextrin loading prior to Ohtawara has proven invaluable. Not that I am convinced that malto has any magical properties of itself, but it really does make sure that you take in plenty of carbs without stressing the digestive system. I couldn't get malto powder this time, but stocked up on some cheap energy gels and took one on Thursday and two each on Friday and Saturday, plus I bought a whey-protein drink and some amino acid supplements because I have come to believe that this important, but can't really explain why.