“Race week” tips
So, that race you entered months ago is now looming large on the calendar. With 7 days to go to the first club champs race of the season (Canterbury 10) here are some tips and advice on how to plan the final week so that you are feeling fresh and ready to go on the day.
I always find it useful to split the pre-race week into two distinct sections. I’ll train as normal on the Monday and Tuesday and train to the same intensity I usually do on those days. However, when you get to Wednesday onwards, it’s a good idea to drop the intensity and effort you put into your sessions to make sure you are raring to go on the day. So, by all means come to “hills” or “track”, but a heavy session which drains the legs on a Wednesday or Thursday may well still be in the legs on the Sunday morning. Aim to run at about half to two-thirds of your normal “effort” level and make sure you have a good warm up and cool down. The last thing you want approaching a race is to pick up a niggle with only a few days to go. If you are heading out for a solo run on the Thursday or Friday, it’s a good idea to ease off the pace and avoid hills as much as possible. This way you will keep yourself moving but won’t have that heavy-legged feeling on race day.
If it’s a target race (A-race), I won’t train at all on the Friday and Saturday. Two days rest means I’m feeling good to go on race day. For a less important race I may well run on one of those days but definitely not at normal training pace. Enjoy the feeling of going slower and tell yourself that you’ll have plenty of energy on race day.
In terms of nutrition and hydration there are a few things to be mindful of. Firstly, don’t leave it until the day before to try and hydrate yourself – especially if the weather is going to be warm. Your hydration strategy should start on the Wednesday or Thursday prior to race day. Don’t just guzzle lots of water (which can do more harm that good), just make sure you are drinking plenty of squash and other drinks which aren’t diuretic. If you do this you’ll find you don’t need to drink loads on the race day morning itself. As the training is turned down a few notches on race week, I find it helpful to drop the incoming calories too ! (especially for short distance races)
I’ll also find out as much as possible about the course if I haven’t done the race before. What does the elevation look like ? Where are the hills ? Is the start congested or is it easy to get away quickly ? Is the final mile uphill, flat or downhill ? What have previous results been like ? That way there should be no surprises on race day and you’ll feel ready to handle anything the course throws at you.
If you plan your “race week” training carefully, look after your nutrition and hydration needs, make sure you are resting properly and know about the course you are running on, you are giving yourself a great chance of turning up on race day feeling strong, fresh, rested and ready to smash out a PB !