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The Last Week Before a Race

~Intro~


Whenever we are training for a race, there will always be a taper period leading up to the event itself, regardless of what training program we use.


The purpose of a taper period is to maximize the body’s performance potential by minimizing stress on the body while maintaining the highest level of fitness.


~When peak training ends~


This is accomplished by peaking your training around 1-2 weeks before the event, so your body has more than enough time to recover and stay in the peak trained state without losing the gains you made through your training.


Let’s say you were training for a marathon and ran your longest run of 22 miles 2 weeks before the 26.2 mile race. The next “long run” would be something like 8 miles 1 week before the race with fewer weekly runs and reduced weekly mileage overall.


The week of the race you would run once or twice < 3 miles at a very comfortable pace to keeps your legs moving and feeling good. These runs should feel great!


~Resistance Training~


You should have been throwing in some resistance training weekly, but you would want to tone it down the last week with exercise solely focusing on maintaining movement. If you were to stop all exercise for a week, you would accumulate stiffness and lose the benefits of daily movement as well. You don’t want to be groggy and out of it on race day!


The exercises I recommend performing are easy, body weight exercises promoting movement of multiple joints. This should include dynamic stretching, static stretching, and modified push ups + squats depending on your strength. Jumping jacks and other large arm motions will help promote movement in areas that can stiffen up throughout the day. These exercises should feel easy but get the heart rate elevated for a bit.


~Sleep~


Increasing the heart rate and having an exercise stimulus, particularly outside, will also make it easier for you to go to sleep once night comes around. Obviously sleep is key to recovery and for your optimal race day performance.


See my Instagram video on sleep:


Sleep quality is also improved with these components added to your daily routine, so even if you are nervous for race day, when you do fall asleep you’ll be able to have an efficient night’s sleep!


~Water~


Your water demands are affected SIGNIFICANTLY by the weather, which you will not always be able to prepare for effectively. Our water needs can triple on a hot day when exercising.


Not only do you have to drink enough water, you also want to compound that water with an electrolyte source that will help you retain the water. Otherwise, you run the risk of overheating or developing debilitating muscle cramps during race day.


Training is your time to experiment with different sources of nutrition to see how your body handles them during race conditions. It’ll be a little harder downing a slice of pizza while running =)


The best recommendation is to have a 6% solution of sugar with water, which you can calculate and make on your own like I do (see my video on Instagram). Gatorade and other sports drinks are a good solution, but I avoid all the food dyes and other crap that they put in their products when making my drink.


Mindset


You will be nervous, and that’s ok. You want to do the right thing ahead of time like hydrating well and carb loading the week of the race, so that if you get super nervous and don’t sleep/eat well the day before the race, you will still have a high baseline.


You may be really hard on yourself from time to time, but now is not the time to worry about that. You did everything you could and nothing you can do will change that. Be proud that you took the challenge and signed up for the race! Action steps are only taken by few people.


Even if you fail, you can take solace from the fact that you endeavored towards a goal and learned a lot from this failure. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter if you achieved your goal or not. It’s about the process and what you learn. Maybe even who you met along the way!


You are in much better shape and did something for yourself by training. Even if it wasn’t enough, you can agree it was a good use of time. I don’t know anyone who tells me they regret doing a workout!


~Conclusion~


Fail, you learn a lot. Succeed, you achieved a goal you wouldn’t have been able to before! The most important things when racing are:

  1. Don’t get injured

  2. Learn about yourself and from your mistakes

  3. Enjoy the process

  4. Prepare properly

  5. Don’t compare yourself to others

Despite the challenge of it all, everyone benefits from challenging themselves from time to time because it can help you learn a lot about yourself. That will lead to more confidence and feeling better about yourself. Plus, you will be much healthier preparing your body during training and likely eat better too as a result! There’s a reason why so many people do these types of things, which at first glance seem absurd and pointless. You only know once you try! Be well everyone and good luck training =)


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