Wow, we are less than 5 weeks from race day 2017. That means we have two long runs left in training before the taper. All your training to this point has you ready to complete these last long tests and will propel you to the finish line on April 29. One of the great things about knowing you have the fitness to complete the mileage is that you can focus on the rest of your race preparations during these final weeks. Practicing everything from your meal the night before, morning routine, race day outfit, shoes, and your in-race nutrition will give you time to adjust anything that doesn’t quite work. The old mantra “nothing new on race day” seems played out, but it’s used so frequently for a reason. Many a race has gone south because runners have decided to try new shoes or the newest gel pack and had it backfire at mile 9. Honestly, the very best thing you can do for yourself now is to go through everything as you would on race week/day as a trial run.
The easiest way to derail a race is to have last night’s dinner catch up with you on course. Avoiding it however is simple, try it now! Pasta dinners are the go to, but may not be right for you. Some may have iron stomachs and can handle non-traditional meals that are spicy or greasy, but most cannot. Generally, you want easily digestible carbs and lean protein the night before a long run or race. My biggest meal is lunch the day before a race, rather than dinner. Dinner for me is just to top off my stores and avoid hunger overnight. Then I focus on getting breakfast in 2-3 hours before the gun goes off, again something with easily digestible and accessible carbs.
In addition to your pre-race meals, you want to start consuming some nutrition during your workouts. If you are going to be running or walking for more than 60 minutes, you’ll need some simple carbohydrates like sports drink or gels on the course. There is a wide spectrum of options however, from all liquid to “real food” like dates or bananas. Gels, chews, chomps, waffles etc. are all good choices but are very different both in how you intake them and how your body may handle them. I know several people who cannot STAND the consistency of gels but will happily chew on a waffle mid-run. Use this weekend’s long run to test one of the options and adjust as necessary. Lots more on eating on the run here.
Gear – clothing, shoes, socks, watches
The post race shower doesn’t lie. No matter how much you might adore that cute purple running skirt and black singlet, if it chafes you the shower will tell all! Better to find out now that something bothers you. You can always add extra Body Glide or go back to your favorite old outfit! This is even more important with your footwear. Obviously, you want your race shoes to have as much life left on them as possible but that does not mean taking them out of the box and immediately racing. Ideally, race shoes should have about 40 miles on them. You want to get a couple shorter workouts in, a long run, and a quality run (speedwork) if you do those. That combination gives you a true feel for the shoes in many situations but still leaves them with plenty of nice cushioning to treat your feet on race day.
Lastly, learn how to use your watch now. Practice, practice, practice with it until you can do it almost without looking. Also, make sure you know where your charger is and do any updates required. If I had a dollar for all the times I hear about a watch causing race day stress, I’d be running in Hawaii by now. Please please learn your watch and take care of it if it is important to you in a race.
Enjoy and Relax
The last month of training is so amazing because you are fit and ready. You are just refining your training to take full advantage of that fitness. Take time to enjoy this month. Look around and take it all in. This journey is yours and every single one is special. It doesn’t matter if this is your first race ever or your 100th; every race season is unique and incredible. The last week will likely be a blur of activity, so enjoy these last several weeks of training! The weather even seems to be cooperating for us too. See you all on April 29th! – Happy Training!
Holy smokes! It is officially 10 days until race day. I cannot believe it. The sun is shining, the trees are flowering, daffodils are out and it is WARM! We have successfully made it through the worst winter that Central Ohio has seen in a looooong time. Congratulations on pushing through and training throughout the cold, snowy, gray winter. This is our reward! I could not be prouder of all the Cap City runners and my MIT runners! Shout out to team 9:45 for helping make the winter fun! I hope you all have fun training partners that got you through this season too.
So now we are in the taper phase of training. I wrote a very long article about taper last year and you can find it here. Tapering is as much an art as it is a science. Getting it right takes patience and support from those around you, because you might be a little grumpy! Tapering means that we cut the volume of running way down from the recent training weeks. The goal is to allow your legs and body the recovery time they need to be fresh on race day. Rest gives you the opportunity to recover from any lingering fatigue. Robb Kestner the winner of the 2007 Columbus Marathon once told me “You don’t peak until you rest.” That is very true. Giving yourself that downtime allows your body to peak on race day. However it isn’t easy. At this point we are used to the training schedule and the rhythm of train, recover, repeat.
Tapering does NOT mean that we stop running altogether. If you are following our schedules then you will see that we have you running still in the next week, but the volume is reduced. We want your legs to still be moving, but we don’t want to add too much stress. If you are feeling especially tired or achy, take the day off. You are not going to add fitness by running through it now. The best thing you can do if you feel “off” is to rest.
PLEASE don’t go out and try to add extra miles or days to your training schedule now. You cannot cram for an endurance event and extra miles in the few weeks leading up to a race like Cap City will not help, but they can hurt. Either you have put in the work by now or you have not. If you haven’t, do not fret. That’s why we have other shorter distances and races later this year! If you have put in the work, don’t question it. You’ve done it, now simply rest.
Thank your supporters
Take the time to do something special for your support crew. They have put in extra time over the next few months too. Maybe they did extra laundry or quietly dealt with yours all of the house “drying.” They’ve taken extra babysitting shifts and listened to you go on and on about the joys of Body Glide. Whatever it was, now is the time to thank them.
Whatever you do, don’t …
Do not pick up a new sport in the next 10 days. I know we are running less and you have extra energy, that’s the point! Don’t start something new and that includes strenuous yard work! No pulling hedges out of your garden for 10 days. They will still be there on May 4. Yes that’s a true story and she knows who she is!
You’ve got this! Now is the time to rest, enjoy, and celebrate. We are so excited to see you all on race day and at the expo. I will be waiting for you at the finish.
Happy Training (and tapering)!