Competition - 'Every challenge is a marathon!'
It’s race week.
All the training is done. New racing gear has been purchased and tested, hotel bookings have been made. It’s now time to drastically reduce the volume of training and let the body recover from all those miles and get ready.
In this short article, we discuss a few simple training protocols to implement 7 days out from your race using the marathon as an example (This can be translated into activity lasting 2.5-4 hours).
***NB: this is not a one size fits all model, yet the principles still apply to all of us.***
Life + Training = The result you experience.
Racing may be defined as moving from one space to the next in the fastest time possible against others. Or moving from A to B in a progressive manner as the athlete see's fit.
However there is always more to it. It's not a simple thing of doing the training and expecting all the pieces to fall into place on the day. As a coach it's important to understand the controllable and uncontrollable's.
‘Why do I need to rest so much? I’m craving a hard session... Just one more!’
In my younger years as a distance runner, I always had this problem. The race week usually consisted of doing absolutely nothing except warm ups. We used to struggle with the reduction in exercise and training.
We are creatures of Habit.
From weeks of hard hard training, developing the habits that get us to the point of race week we have to allow our bodies to rest while our minds crave endorphins from the regular exercise. The habits that we have developed are great. But now it’s time to reign them in. Let the body recover. The athlete has spent weeks training hard. Now it’s time for full recovery to occur.
Try developing a new habit this week to combat the feeling of needing to do something. Try the App Headspace for Free for the next few days to calm the mind.
Excitement or Nerves?
This is the urge to GO. To just DO. It’s like an itch that just needs to be itched. If you are experiencing this then your body and mind are just saying they are ready. If not dont worry, we all behave differntly in these scenarios. Just remember your body and mind are now in unison and ready for performance. Patience.
Socially you may be known as the hard worker. The individual who pushes hard. Your identity is your work ethic. The phrase ‘we work to live’ is my biggest pet peeve. It's easier said than done when you love what you are doing…
But recovery and reflection are by far the most vital for optimum performance. Training for a lot of us especially those who are racing is the easy part. Nutrition, recovery, and mindset is the challenge.
I hate viewing any type of quest in a negative light. However, consider this: You train for 2 hours of the day and have 22 other hours to mess up those 2 hard hours of work. But it does allow us to view it in a different light. If training hasn’t gone so well we have endless opportunity to improve other aspects of our training!
Training breaks the body down, it cuts deep. The other 22 hours is where the body develops that thicker skin. The window of progress and opportunity.
Reduce training volume by 40-60%.
7 days out you want to reduce the amount of time on your feet. The main reason for this is to reduce the amount of impact on your joints and reduce inflammation as much as possible. If for example, you are performing 100 miles a week this should be reduced back to 40-50 on the week of the race. HOWEVER the week of the race is not about the miles. It is about staying fresh and activating the central nervous system through some light bouts of training.
NO LONG RUNS!!!
Also noting that all exercise should consist of a shorter durations. However, practices like strides and fast turnover “sprints” are popular and should be included to prompt the central nervous system to stay active. Imagine the sensation of being light on your feet. But if your not doing any strength work or mobility work this may cause risk to injury so consult a coach first.
Some clients have found the following template useful:
3 principles to remember on race week:
Firstly don’t change your diet. It’s not the time to try new things. But closer to the race 2 days out or so it’s time to double the carbohydrates. Have carbs during every meal except breakfast.
Carbohydrates are your main fuel source for a long race. However, it’s important to know which ones. High starchy carbs aren't the best as they may make you feel bloated. Stick with what you know.
Hydration is the most important out of all these principles. Everyday you should be drinking 1 litre of water per 25kg bodyweight. If you weigh 50 kilograms then you sip on 2 litres of water throughout the day.
Morning of the race you should try consume close to this however keep an eye on your urine. When it starts to become clear there is no need for more. Please note that it does help being up and awake for at least 3 to 4 hours before your race. If its an evening competition go about your day as normal.
During your race you want to make sure you are familiar with what you are consuming. So ensure you try it before racing.
The focus is on carbohydrates. Meaning things like lucozade etc are ok to sip on. However there is not enough in that for a race lasting over 2 hours.
Vitargo - Carbohydrate supplement.
Pea or hemp protein - easier on the stomach than whey protein for a lot of people.
BCAA supplement drink
Finally the above tips on nutrition are basic. However they are for the individual to discuss with their own personal coach or Dietician. There are mixed views on the inclusion of protein in an endurance race. However this is more for the morning of the race if you are struggling to consume protein.
Prioritise carbohydrates and hydration.