The countdown is on until the Annapolis Half! I have the urge to push hard this week but I know that is not a good idea. A perfect example of why tapering is important: I ran my best 5K (cut almost a whole minute off my previous time) after taking a full week off before the race. (I had an accident the weekend before involving a shower door falling on my foot, but it was better my the day of the race). I ended up getting first female in that race! Now I don’t think its necessary to completely stop working out before a race, but tapering really does work!
Here are some of my tips for tapering. However, what works for me may not work for you, and its important to find out what you need to do to have your best race.
I try to pay attention to how much water I am drinking the week before a race. I also try to cut down on alcohol. It kind of depends on the distance of the race and the importance of the race to me. For example, before the Maryland half in 2012, I wasn’t running for a goal time, so I had a couple beers with dinner the night before. (Carbo-loading, right?) But for my first full marathon, I didn’t drink any alcohol for a full 2 weeks before the race. For this race I am not totally cutting out alcohol, but limiting intake and making sure I drink enough water also. I probably won’t drink alcohol for about 3 days before the race.
Get Enough Sleep
As my workouts get shorter, I find that I can get up a little later the week before a race. I also try to get to bed early to ensure I am well rested. It can be tough to sleep the night before a big race, so by resting earlier in the week you can ensure you will be ready to go on race day!
I also try to focus on getting enough carbs without totally weighing myself down. It’s important to find a balance that works for you. If you are used to eating a certain way and then you start eating tons of carbs the days leading up to a race, you probably won’t feel too good. I also know that since I am running less I may not feel as hungry. When I plan our dinners for the week I make sure to include pastas, potatoes, rice, and bread. However, I make sure to also include fruits and veggies, as well as lean protein. (Try not to do anything too different from usual. Some people have stomach issues from foods with alot of fiber!) They key is to fill up your glycogen stores so that they will be ready for race day. If you are running less and eating slightly more carbs, you should be right where you need to be.
Not only should you cut back on running and other exercises, but I also think its important to stretch and foam roll. Maybe do some easy yoga or a longer stretching routine after your runs. I try to spend 20-30 minutes with my foam roller every day the week before a race.
Think about your goals for race day. Picture yourself starting the run, struggling through that big hill, crossing the finish line… Maybe figure out how to overcome problems you faced in past races. Come up with a pacing strategy. Write down your goals and thoughts if that helps you.
Plan out Logistics
Make sure you are ready for packet pick-up or the expo. If someone else is picking up your bib, make sure they have what they need to do that (sometimes a letter or copy of your ID). If you are traveling on race morning, do you know what time you need to leave and how to get there? Where to park? Or if you are staying at a hotel, do you know how far it is from the start line? Check the weather…but try not to freak out too much about it! Plan your race outfit. Create your race day playlist.
And speaking of race day playslists, I just finished putting mine together. Its a combination of old stuff I haven’t listened to in a while, new songs that I have recently downloaded, and some all time favorites that are almost always on my playlist.
What are your tips for taper week?