What to do come race week
The days leading up a race when you are in taper mode can be a little unnerving, suddenly panic seems to set in and you start asking yourself ‘have I done enough?’ Taper is designed to allow your body to recuperate, rebuild and be fresh come race day not mentally throw your week into turmoil. Taper is also important during this week as you are now getting mentally prepared for race day.
The physical aspect of training has been executed. You have methodically followed a training plan and that plan has trained you to be in peak position at the right time. You cannot do much more physically to prepare so this is where the strength of your mind comes into place; time to train the mind as this is where the gains can really be made.
- You are where you are meant to me (that’s if you followed your training plan). You can’t get any fitter, the work has been done
- 4-6 days prior to the race start increasing your carbs i.e. carb-loading (not garb-loading), its time to stock the muscles full of glycogen
- Include protein in your diet during this time as this will help with recovery and reduce the chance of illness
- 2-3 days prior to the race reduce your fibre and protein intake and make carbs the focus
- 3-5 days out replace water with electrolytes to ensure your sodium levels are topped up, drinking water alone will flush out much needed electrolytes
- 5-7 days before the race, reduce to limit to nothing your intake of caffeine – this will be your secret weapon come race day so starve the body only to reward it two-thirds into the race
- The day before the race go for a 15-20min easy jog with a few 15sec/80m efforts, time to wake the body up as during taper week you can feel heavy and lethargic
- Don’t try anything new, you have trained hard, don’t mess it up with something you have never tried before
- Make sure you have breakfast but nothing too heavy – crumpets or muffins with nut butter, golden syrup or jam
- Sip on electrolytes and avoid caffeine if you can, this is a known diretic
- Stick to the race and nutrition plan – don’t start too fast or skip your nutrition
- Remember the half way point isn’t the exact half way point, its two thirds into the race so pace yourself and stick to the plan
- Run where you can and walk where you have too, don’t use unnecessary energy fighting up a hill when you don’t necessarily have too
- Stay relaxed, where else would you rather be? Work? Shopping? The great outdoors provide the ultimate distraction so if it all gets too much just look around and think how lucky you are
- Smile – a smile always makes things seem easier
- Listen to your body and understand when it feels good and not so good
- Remind yourself that the training was the hard part, the race the reward
- Believe in your ability to succeed
- Always tell yourself that you are running your own race, the only person you are training/running against is you
- Never succumb to excuses; excuses are not part of your vocabulary
- Stay true to your race plan – you have one of these don’t you?
During the race
Reminding yourself your achievement is not possible without discomfort, you have three choices during the race:
- Speed up
- Slow down
Which one are you not going to choose?
Run Mindful. Run Free
During the duration of the race you are going to feel a range of emotions and feelings, basically you are going to ride an emotional rollercoaster. Now is the time when you need to call upon mindfulness, its time to connect yourself with your environment, with you; being mentally connected to your movement and not distracted by what’s going on around you; other people, noise, technology not to mention your own mental thoughts.
Shrug off those external distractions and internal pressures and really listen to your body: how are you breathing? What sounds do you hear around you? Are your shoulders, ears and hands relaxed? Are you comfortable with your pace, can you go faster or do you need to slow down in order to catch your breath? Be present in the activity; the more connected you are to your running, the longer you’ll be able to keep running.
Suffering is Optional
In the words of Haruki Murakami “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”