After long, hot training days in this endless Irish summer, your nerves might be setting you off track in the run up to THE running event of the year – the Affidea ExpressCare Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – but we’ve got you covered with some tapering training tips to keep you ticking over until race day.
2 weeks out: taper training
Tapering, or running less in the run up to a big race so as not to overexert or injure yourself, sounds like a walk in the park – pun intended! – but this is your chance to practice race day fuelling and pacing.
- Include brief walk breaks to simulate slowing down at water stations or managing heart rate on inclines. Walk breaks help relieve fatigue, reset run form, lower heart rate, and provide an opportunity to fuel and hydrate. Don’t be tempted to add workout days as your body needs to recover and prepare for what’s ahead.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals, eliminate calorically dense, nutrient deficient pre-packaged foods, and cut out or decrease sweets. Don’t overeat during your taper and avoid eating within 2.5 hours of bedtime if your schedule allows.
- Sleep is fundamental to proper recovery, allowing the body to adequately repair and improving mood and energy levels. Aim for an extra hour of sleep each night during this phase if you can and avoid bright screens before bedtime.
1 week out: pace yourself
Don’t try to beat your PB in the last week as you can wreck all your hard work in one foul swoop.
- Less is more at this critical stage, so take the extra time to stretch properly and perform range of motion exercises after each run. Treat yourself to a full body foam roll and a massage four to five days out, but avoid going too deep causing tissue damage. During at least one of your runs early this week, include a few short pickups in speed (30 to 60 sec) with faster foot turnover to stay fresh and remind the body of various efforts.
- Stick to familiar foods for easy digestion and don’t carb-load. Aim for nutrient-dense whole foods and most of your starchy carbs should be pre/post tune-up runs and not later at night when your body metabolically doesn’t need it. Avoid caffeine after 10am to ensure quality sleep.
- Try to stay calm and relaxed, reminding yourself that you’ve done the work and now’s the time to enjoy it. Plan or pack your gear now to eliminate any unnecessary stress the night before.
3 days out
This is the time you’ll worry about all those niggling aches and pains. If in doubt, visit Affidea ExpressCare Minor Injuries & Illnesses Walk-In Clinics in Dublin and Cork, or call any one of our 10 scanning centres for fast and efficient diagnostics to get you back on track.
- During your final few training sessions, try not to worry about your to-do list and instead focus on form, breathing and hydration. Picture yourself in the race – steady, paced and thankful for your body’s ability to go the distance.
- If you plan to use caffeinated gels or fuel supplements during the race, decrease your caffeine intake by 25-30% to ensure you get the boost you need on race day. Increase easy-to-digest carb intake to 60%, avoid uncooked meats, reduce fibre, and avoid spicy and fried foods.
- Try not to be too concerned with your finish time as the outcome is determined by the process – focusing on beating your PB can actually set you off rhythm and knock you back on the clock.
The day before the race
You’ve got your pack and you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll, but the nerves are kicking in. Do what you can to unwind and put your feet up because they’ll need a break tomorrow!
- Go for a short 15-25 minute early morning run. Once you feel warmed up, include three to four 30-second pickups with at least 1 minute easy in between to shake off staleness. Finish with a short walk to bring your heart rate down and stretch/foam roll lightly.
- Increase your sodium intake (especially if the forecast is calling for warm and/or humid conditions) and eat salty foods like pretzels. Test drive this during training to determine which foods work best for you. Lunch is the most important meal the day before, so load up on carbs with lean protein and lots of water. Have a light dinner, but don’t overhydrate.
- Envision yourself at the start line, mid-race and nearing the end when you’re fighting fatigue. Review your race plan and how you’ll handle each section of the day to stay prepared.
Final tips for the big day
- Hydrate at each station along the race route.
- Consume gels early in the race, since the digestive system is less effective as fatigue sets in.
- Don’t sabotage yourself by starting out too fast and trying to make up for time later.
- Run your own race, not the person’s next to you.
- Stick to your plan and focus on the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you cross the finish line!