Nervous time, this next handful of weeks.
I'm not even running...and still it's the same. The four-to-six weeks leading into a target race, depending on the distance, is the most nerve-wracking. Marathoners - or their training plans - are scheduling the longest distance runs for those weekends, and the workouts assigned during the week are shorter in duration. Worst of all, the intensity levels of all of the workouts during that time tend to drop.
Training plans with an overabundance of slow training paces throughout the week lead to slow performances on race day. It stands to reason that an athlete is going to race in the exact same manner as they have trained throughout the cycle. A good plan during the training week lets the runner simulate the latter miles of the target event during the weekend's training run; a 15-to-16 mile training run should simulate how the runner is going to feel from the tenth or eleventh mile forward, not the first fifteen.
The challenge, naturally, is to NOT spend the entire time not working or taking care of family demands out on the road, trail or track in workouts. Train as hard as necessary to achieve the desired results, and no harder. Going longer or harder than necessary cuts into that all-too-precious recovery time.
My speed workout assignments during the last six weeks are harder in intensity, shorter in distance, and longer in recovery time; a ninety-minute workout with 5,000 meters of repeats during the first six-to-eight weeks of a program cycle will drastically reduce itself to 2,500 meters in the last period.
The "more junk-like" miles aren't so much pitched by the wayside as much as they become "optional" added miles during the remainder of the week. The athlete usually pitches the option of adding miles in favor of more recovery.
Taper during the last three weeks is gradual; there still are assigned workouts, the volume decreases by up to fifty percent but the intensity stays closer to race effort until the last week. The more busy an athlete is kept with the business of maintaing effort and recovery the less likely they are to do something foolish like go out for an additional run (and risk injury) because they have more time to spare.