One of my favorite running quotes is “The race is just a victory lap.” How you perform on race day is mostly a result of weeks and months of training. If you prepare properly, your finishing time is your reward for the months of sweat, exhaustion and hard work.
Running is not like studying for a test. There is no last minute cramming; no last minute workouts; no last minute secrets that will suddenly help you gain fitness and drop minutes. Understanding this important fact will help you avoid making mistakes as you enter what could be the most important week of your Broad Street training. This week starts Sunday.
Now that you understand cramming in last minute miles won’t help, you’ll need to realistically evaluate your fitness level today. To do this, look back over the last few months of training (This is where that running log comes handy). Have you been able to stick to you training plan? Were you able to get in all the long runs?
Next week is all about not making mistakes. Stick with what’s worked and don’t experiment with anything new. Do all the right things so that on race day you’ve put yourself in a position to fully utilize your months of hard work and reward yourself with a good time.
Here are four things you’ll need to nail next week in order to be ready on race day.
1. Your goal
This is the most important consideration. What’s your goal for May 3rd? Run for time? Run for fun? Finish your first 10-miler? No matter which goal you’re shooting for, you’ll need to reflect on how the past two months of training have been going. Trust me, being unrealistic here will result in disappointment and pain.
Racing for time and running for fun are very different. Let your past four weeks of training help determine which is best for you. If you’ve been consistently getting in four days each week and hitting your long runs every week, odds are you can be on the aggressive side. If you’ve been getting in less then four days a week, have skipped multiple days or haven’t done multiple runs over six miles, it’s best to be on the conservative side and run this one for fun.
Ah, the taper: perhaps the most confusing week of training. The idea behind the taper is that by reducing your overall running volume just before a Broad Street, your body will be well rested for race day.
If you’ve been following a training plan, stick with it. Odds are, the taper is in there. Feel free to slightly alter the taper, if needed. Your goal is to feel as fresh as possible on the day before race day. Don’t cut out too much though. You’ll want at least three low-mile days of easy running before the race.
Feel free to include days off completely from running. I typically recommend taking off the Friday before Broad Street and running one to three very easy miles the day before. For those runners gunning for a specific pace, include some light pace work early in the week, like on Tuesday. To do this, run one to three miles at goal race pace.
Get good sleep next week, not just the night before the race. In fact, it’s the three nights prior to the race that are considered the most important when it comes to sleep. It’s vital to establish a sleeping routine for the entire week, and aim to get at least eight hours of sleep each night, falling asleep and waking up at the same time each day.
Eat well the entire week, not just the day before. Remember: Food is your running fuel. Avoid processed foods, fast foods and limit alcohol. Look to include a mix of both complex carbohydrates and protein.
Being fit and ready to perform at your best is the result of months of work. There are no shortcuts in running.
While you won’t gain fitness during next week, you can definitely put your months of hard work in jeopardy. And I know you don’t want to do that!
Orginal post was published in Be Well Philly and can be found by clicking here.