With the Victoria Royal Half Marathon set for this weekend, this weeks running has all been about preparing for Sunday with a strategy known as “tapering”.
What is tapering? Tapering is a process for preparing for an event, such as a marathon or race, by gradually decreasing the intensity and volume of training. The purpose of this process is to ensure that you are at your best when it counts! In this blog post we will discuss 7 keys to successful tapering:
1) Do not increase mileage during a taper
This week is about maintaining fitness so we do not need to increase mileage but can even back down on mileage by 10%.
2) Run slower than usual
We want to make sure we are at 100% on race day so we want to stick to our zone 1/2 primarily to limit recovery time with some light speed-play a couple days before if you like a little above race pace.
3) Increase protein intake
It is important to increase protein intake during a taper so that you are at your strongest on race day. With protein being the building block for muscle, you want to make sure your body is getting what it needs. Throughout the week incorporate eggs, legumes, lean meats and fish after your training runs.
4) Ensure adequate rest and sleep
When we train our body is undergoing stress so our body makes adaptations to that stress overtime. Many people think this is happening during the run when in fact it is mostly happening while you sleep. During the taper we need to make sure we are allowing our bodies adequate time for rest and recovery so make sure you are prioritizing your sleep.
5) Keep weight gain minimal (especially in last few weeks before race day!)
Some people will think they need to dramatically increase their caloric content for the entire week before the race calling it a “carb load” when in fact this may be more detrimental than helpful. If you are gaining weight throughout the taper week, even if it is just a pound or two that is weight you will need to carry throughout the race.
6) Stay hydrated with fluids and electrolytes while running; avoid alcohol consumption; limit caffeine intake; consider using salt tablets to help prevent cramping.
We want to make sure at least a week prior to race day we are keep our fluid intake consistent. The more consistent we are the more confident we can be on race day not run into issues of cramping, dehydration or even over-hydration also called hyponatremia.
7) Test out your race day routine
A mistake many runners make is getting caught up in the race day jitters and breaking away from their own routine. If you plan on using electrolyte gels provided on race day make sure you try them beforehand to see how they effect you. If there are any stretches you plan on doing or warm-up routines you think you will do on race day make sure you have went through it this week before your runs. Trying out new things on race day can result in disaster. Stick to what is familiar and what your know works for you.
Take it easy!