I’ve been in a position to dial in how you can really peak on marathon day. It took some time to determine it out, as a result of, like many coaches, I fell into the usual “tapering” mannequin we’ve all been taught. Drawback was, tapering didn’t work persistently. The outcomes have been simply as hit-or-miss as not tapering in any respect.
So, I threw “tapering” out of my vocabulary. I changed it with “peaking.” Semantics? Perhaps. However by learning peak efficiency—each physiological in addition to psychological—versus simply the tapering analysis, I’ve been in a position to persistently get runners optimally prepared on marathon day. It really works for all athletes irrespective of the place you end up within the pack come race day.
Listed here are my tips to your peaking section—the final 14 days earlier than your marathon—and these concepts kind the idea of my peaking coaching plans in my e-book, Surviving the Marathon Freak-Out, in addition to my steering for what you must do earlier than, throughout and after the marathon:
#1: Don’t change your weekly working routine
Our our bodies and minds like routine. For those who run three days per week, then run three days per week throughout your peaking section. For those who run 5, then run 5. Your legs will really feel heavy and “flat” when you abruptly run much less regularly than regular. Right here’s a fast story to show the purpose:
A number of years in the past, I coached a brand new runner program in San Diego. A masters feminine runner (who ran Four days per week) was prepped and prepared for an important marathon. On race day, nevertheless, she ran horribly and was nowhere near her aim time. After we met up just a few days after the race, I requested her what went fallacious.
“I don’t know Greg. The coaching was nice and I really feel your exercises actually ready me for the race,” she stated shrugging her shoulders. After slightly extra investigation, I discovered the issue. I requested her about race week, a time when issues can go fallacious when you aren’t cautious. “Race week was nice. As a result of I needed to essentially relaxation up for the marathon, I took Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. I needed to save lots of all my vitality for the marathon on Sunday,” she revealed. Bingo!
Her physique was used to working 4 instances per week and abruptly she rested for 4 straight days. Each runner is aware of how terrible you’re feeling when you miss just a few days of working. You’re feeling such as you’ve by no means run earlier than in your life! And, that’s precisely how she felt. She was fully flat on race day. She discovered this rule the exhausting means and it was an important reminder for me (and now you): Stick with your working rhythm through the peaking section.
That stated, there may be one exception to this rule: Runners who really feel they’re on the sting of overtraining or are nursing a sore muscle or niggling damage could take an additional time without work every week through the peaking section. However, don’t take it the day earlier than the final future or the race when you don’t usually relaxation the day earlier than your lengthy runs. This dangers feeling flat on race morning.
#2: Scale back weekly coaching quantity, however not an excessive amount of
During the last 10-14 days earlier than your race, you must progressively scale back the amount of your working. Two weeks out from the race, I like to cut back the day by day quantity by 10–20 minutes or so.
For many runners, that’s no large deal. However, what when you solely run 30 minutes per day usually? Nonetheless comply with the plan. Scale back your run to 10–20 minutes (30 minutes minus 10–20 minutes). It’s going to really feel such as you spent extra time preparing for the run than going for the run, however your physique will profit even from very quick runs.
The week of the race, scale back your regular day by day quantity roughly 20–30 minutes. (Once more, this will likely imply low mileage runners could solely run 10–20 minutes however that’s okay.) This, together with the traditional discount in your future size because the race nears, will drop your general working quantity according to what we all know from analysis (and, extra importantly, from sensible expertise). This permits the physique to get ready for a peak efficiency (~20–40% whole discount in coaching quantity relying on the athlete).
The extent of your quantity discount through the peaking section is dependent upon your regular coaching quantity and the way drained you’re feeling from the coaching. Decrease mileage and rested athletes will scale back quantity lower than excessive mileage runners who’re fatigued from coaching.
That stated, don’t make the frequent mistake of dropping your quantity an excessive amount of. This takes your physique out of its routine and might depart you stale on race day. My opinion is that extra runners fail due to tapering an excessive amount of (see #1 above) quite than not sufficient.
#3: Preserve the engine revved
Whereas we wish to scale back the amount of working, we don’t wish to scale back the depth of our exercises. Actually, we might want the depth to extend. You wish to maintain your engine revved, the pumps primed. By no means race your exercises, however through the peaking section, don’t again off from all sooner working both. I’ve discovered that some quick working within the peaking section helps carry the physique and the thoughts to tiptop situation on race day. (See my Peaking Plans within the e-book for the exercises I like to recommend.)
Whereas these exercises aren’t “push it to the max” exercises, they need to assist construct your working financial system (consider it as higher fuel mileage) and dial in your aim tempo. Performed appropriately, the peaking exercises stress the physique much less however depart you with an engine that’s primed and able to ship on race day. These peaking exercises aren’t as intensive or excessive quantity as you may do earlier within the marathon coaching, however they do present simply sufficient stimulus to essentially assist you peak on race day.
#4: Plan your technique and keep it up
Most marathoners have the identical race technique—begin conservative, construct into race tempo, run as effectively as potential and get as deep within the race as potential earlier than it’s important to pull out your tremendous powers to get you to the end line. Yours could differ, relying in your energy and preferences and race course, however it doesn’t matter what your technique, keep it up.
For many runners, their pre-race technique is the most effective technique. Be open to alter if the circumstances require, however for probably the most half, you already know what you want to take action simply get out of your personal means and let the race unfold as deliberate.
In fact, the largest error is feeling nice within the first few miles (which ought to really feel straightforward any means) and deciding, “I believe I’ll put a while within the financial institution in case I decelerate later.” Large no no. Your sooner tempo could really feel straightforward however you might be burning important saved carbohydrates and stressing your muscle tissues an excessive amount of, too quickly. Later within the race, you’ll pay for it and might simply lose a number of minutes per mile in comparison with the few seconds per mile you “banked” early within the race.
(Later within the e book, I present my tempo chart for working your finest even or adverse break up race.)
#5: Mirror on coaching to construct confidence
I like athletes to replicate on coaching in two methods. First, suppose again on a very powerful exercise, one the place you didn’t really feel nice however you gutted it out. You have been powerful. This reveals that you are able to do it. You might be powerful. You possibly can deal with the ups and downs of working and get to the end line. You’ve got a great deal of willpower. This can be required in your marathon, so as an alternative of considering of that run as a “unhealthy” exercise, see it as revealing your inside energy.
Subsequent, suppose again to your finest exercises or races. Actually re-live them in your thoughts. Bolster your confidence understanding that you’re match, quick and prepared. Carry on the race! Get excited to go on the market and carry out like you already know you possibly can! Your coaching successes ought to construct your confidence and confidence is a key a part of the peaking course of.
Actually, your homework is to assessment your coaching plan and spotlight 2-Three runs/exercises/races the place you felt nice, actually superior. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down every part you keep in mind in regards to the day. Come at it from all of your senses and actually “really feel” the run. Then, begin to examine these nice runs each few days because the race nears. You’ll be shocked how this ongoing constructive psychological stimulus can carry over into the race.
#6: Have enjoyable and smile
Let’s face it. Most of us aren’t going for an Olympic gold medal right here. We’re merely having fun with the problem of doing our greatest. There isn’t a actual strain, so stop placing a lot on your self. We run for enjoyable, and you must keep in mind that. Have enjoyable! I encourage runners to smile lots within the remaining days earlier than a race. Smiling places you in a greater temper, reduces nervousness and that may play an enormous function on race day.
It’s solely with a constructive, blissful mindset targeted on doing all of your finest, mixed with a well-trained physique that’s rested however revved, fueled and hydrated which you can race your finest.
Excerpted from Surviving the Marathon Freak-Out by coach Greg McMillan.