The basic concept has been to continuously add more stress to the body & teach it to feel comfortable with running the distances proscribed at your desired race pace. It takes two weeks for the body to adapt to any new stress, so any workouts that we do between now & the race itself will not have sufficient time to directly benefit your fitness level. What we will do will allow your body to feel more comfortable running at race pace by resting & implementing workouts that encourage quick turn-over of the legs.
The taper is not all about changing the types of workouts that we will be doing. It also includes specific preparation for the race physically, mentally & logistically. Next week we will discuss the logistics of getting everything together for your race, but I wanted to reiterate for a moment the importance of physically & mentally preparing for the race.
You will hear the constant mantra of consistency in each of the following points but it is especially important when it comes to sleep. Get into a sleep routine & stick with it as closely as possible. If you have a poor night’s sleep the night before it will have no effect on your performance if you are consistent in your sleep for the weeks prior to that night. Try to avoid a situation where you try to make up for lost sleep. The change in routine will probably have more of a negative effect than the actual hours you lost. It is important to try to be consistent about waking up about the same time you will for the race a few times so your body does not react negatively.
Paying attention to good nutrition over the last week of training will never make up for several weeks of inadequate nutrition. Like your pre-race warm-up & race tactics, when & what you eat is an individual matter, but it should make sense. There are some folks who can eat the house down prior to a race & others who are extremely sensitive & cannot eat anything prior to a race. The soundest policy is to do what works best for you. Since this may be the first race for some of you & others may be looking for specific guidance in this I will make some suggestions.
· Have little or no food 3-4 hours prior to your race.
· Up until that time eating simple carbohydrates usually is your best bet. Bread, bagels, pancakes, rice, & pasta are easily tolerated by the digestive system. Some runners like some proteins & perhaps a little fat but try to limit these as they have the tendency to react negatively with your stomach.
· Water is the best fluid to take with your pre-race meals as it is quickly absorbed. Sports drinks are also good to consume.
· Stay away from excessive amounts of sweets, because more fluid will be retained in your stomach & it will cause you to feel bloated.
· Drink most between four to eight hours prior to the race & continue to sip continuously up to the race. Avoid the intake of a large quantity of water in the hour before the race otherwise you will be hitting the toilet right up to & throughout the race.
Apparel & Shoes
The weather will have the most to say about what you wear during the race, but I recommend you try to wear as little clothing as possible in order to remain comfortable. As your body temperature increases during the race you will need far less clothing than you did at the starting line. It is best to anticipate this & be a little chilled on the start line. Otherwise, you will be discarding clothes along the route or overheating which will significantly affect your performance. Try to wear technical apparel, which wicks sweat away & remains light under heavy sweating bouts. It is worth the expense to have non-cotton t-shirts & shorts. Cotton is hydrophilic & loves to retain water. That cotton sweatshirt might feel comfy at race start, but it will quickly become an unwelcome weight. I recommend that you wear the same shoes that you have been training in up to this point. Unless you have already experimented with racing flats, this is not the time to try them out. If you feel that you need new shoes for the race then be sure to purchase them at least a week before & do a few runs in them to be sure they will not blister or rub.
Given the workouts you have completed & the training you have consistently put in during these past weeks, you are ready for a great race at the Capital 10,000. If you taper as we are advising, you will be rested & ready for success. Now is the time to consider the training you have done, look over your log or the workouts completed & focus on the race. For this race you are in a mode of final-quality training designed to let your body to take advantage of all the stress that it has been through in the training. This is the time to reflect on the many great training sessions you have completed & consider how great it will feel at the starting line knowing that you are well prepared. Take advantage of it!