Race day is nearly upon us! With just two weeks to go, 95% of the work has been done, and we are nearing the completion of the training plan.
According to Ross Tucker, the key points at this stage are:
1. The adage that should run through your head, especially in the final week, is: “It’s better to be 100% rested and 90% trained, than 100% trained and 50% rested”. What does this mean? It means that the final two weeks are all about what is called the “Taper”. This is the period in training where you bring the volume down, which gives your body a chance to recover. You may not be aware of it, but the work you’ve been doing for the last three months leaves you feeling a little fatigued, and the taper is the period in which you release that fatigue, without losing fitness. End result? You’ll be fresh, and super fit on that start line.
2. In principle, there’s not much you can do in the final two weeks to improve your race, but there is a lot that you can do that will WORSEN it. The point is, you have a certain training “momentum” at this stage, and your mission now is to keep that momentum. This means avoiding trying too hard to add to it. In practice, what this means is that you don’t try to cram in long runs now. You don’t try to attack hill training with gusto now. You don’t try to run six times a week in a last-ditch attempt to add miles to your legs. Rather be confident.
3. Technically, the training volume drops progressively as we get nearer race day. You don’t drop the speed however – keep running those interval sessions at the same speeds, and keep your running pace the same as it has been – that is the speed you need to “lock in” to your legs. It’s the time on your feet that we reduce, and that should leave you feeling sharper and hungry to tackle the race in two weeks.
4. The taper is also an important phase, mentally. It’s the time where you start to ‘build your race’ in your mind. By now you’ve done the miles, you’ve conditioned your body and your mind, which should give you great confidence. But in the taper, you want to start visualizing the race. Remember that visualization is always positive.You see the race unfolding, you picture yourself strong, confident, in control. You know what your key words are, the encouragement you’ll give yourself in the challenging phases of the race, and you succeed in your mind, before you succeed on the road. So use this period, especially those easy runs, to “dial in” your mind and lay down the framework for positive thinking that you’ll call upon during the race.