The Last Few Weeks of Training
- Tapering for the race is an important final element to a successful training program.
- Unfortunately, you can ruin weeks and months of training by not reducing your training enough or by reducing your training too much.
- The goal of the taper is to get you to the starting line in the best fitness and the most rested state possible.
- Total mileage comes down in the last two to three weeks, mostly in the distance runs and long runs.
- It is important to continue to do interval and tempo workouts during the taper, albeit at a slightly reduced volume.
- Don’t change too many things - eat normally; get plenty of rest; do not try a food, diet, or carbo-loading method before the race if you have never done it before - it is a recipe for disaster.
- Do NOT do “a little extra because I felt good." You should feel good, you are resting to race. Don’t leave your race on the roads on Thursday - be patient and save “that little extra” for Sunday.
- If you are nursing a slight injury or are not 100%, begin to adjust race day performance goals.
- Plan to bring a bag to the start with some extra clothes, a towel, a water bottle, gear for unpredictable weather, and some money (but leave the wallet, keys, etc. somewhere secure - only bring what you need to the start. If you bag is accidentally misplaced, you don’t want to be without your ID and the keys to your car/home).
What to Wear
- This is an individual choice, but if it is cool, plan to have layers that you can peel off and “throw-away”: an old long sleeve shirt, gloves, hat, etc. Don’t pin your number to the “throw-away” items!
- If it is raining, quick-dry fabrics are a better bet than cotton and be sure to have dry clothing to change into after you finish.
- Wear footwear you have regularly trained in. Now is not the time for trying a new pair of shoes.
- If it is hot/humid (at 8:30 a.m., the sun is not likely to be a huge issue, but it can be warm and muggy), shorts and a light t-shirt/tank top will do.
- If the weather is extreme - adjust your goal/pace. If you don’t, you will be in for a miserable run.
- Have your gear bag packed and the clothing that you plan to wear laid out the night before so you can be ready to go in the morning.
- When you get up, eat a light breakfast and drink some fluids - stick to foods/drinks that are tried and true and that you know won’t upset your stomach.
- Today is NOT the day to try out those new racing flats, outfit, etc. Use clothing and sneakers that you have worn before and know will be comfortable.
- Plan to be at the race at least an hour before the start of the race - you need to leave yourself plenty of time to pick up your race number, do a little walking/jogging/stretching in order to warm up, drop off your gear at the baggage check, make a last-minute pit stop and get to the line.
- There is nothing like last-minute panic to have a detrimental effect on your race.
- Relax and plan to have fun!