The Final Week & Tapering

This is where your run is won or lost. You can’t get any fitter and it’s time to protect the fitness you have in the final couple of weeks. Early nights and good food will see you recover and arrive at the start line full of energy and ready to go.

The tips below will guide you through the final week, 24 hours and the run itself…

The Final Week…

  • Simply ticking over with some 30 minute runs in race week is enough. You might look to add some faster efforts 4-5 days before but most of the rest of your running should be easy runs and rest.
  • Don’t be tempted to use all that extra time in race week to nail DIY at home or add some gym classes – this week is all about recovery. Your goal is to arrive at the start line fresh.
  • Stick to your normal diet with slightly more emphasis on carbohydrates, but don’t go mad with a carb load. Aim to maintain the fueling you had in your peak weeks of training, as you cut back your runs this week you’ll store more of that precious carbohydrate as glycogen naturally.
  • Keep sensibly hydrated all week with 2-3 litres of fluids, perhaps including some electrolytes.
  • On race day, positive thinking is your most powerful performance tool. Aim to draw out 5-10 real key positives from your training, write them down and reinforce them in your mind.
  • This is not the time to try or do anything different – stick to your routine, don’t get caught up with trying new products or kit at this stage.
  • Plan your race day logistics well in advance. Work out how you’re getting to Preston Park and your plan of action when you get there to see you up to the starting line.
  • Get your race kit ready including shoes, clothing, gels and drinks. No last-minute trips to the local running shop or ordering online.

The final 24 hours

  • Keep these final 24 hours very relaxed and easy, stay off your feet as much as you possibly can.
  • Stay positive and focused about your race plan – remind yourself of those key positives, then try to relax about tomorrow. Be excited about your event!
  • A very easy 15-20 minute jog the day before works for many runners. It helps to keep the legs fresh for tomorrow and to help calm the nerves. Do this in the morning and keep it super easy.
  • Graze on carbohydrates through the day and have a number of small meals – avoid the pasta party and a huge main meal that night – it will likely only leave you feeling bloated and sluggish when you wake tomorrow. Try to eat your main meal relatively early at 6-7pm and save the wine for tomorrow!
  • Keep hydrated but don’t overdo it – small regular sips on water or water with electrolytes throughout the day and try to avoid caffeine or alcohol – especially later into the evening.
  • You may find that you don’t get your greatest sleep ever but this is totally normal – the key thing is to keep your feet up.

Race Day!

  • Have your normal pre-long run breakfast – you might need to pack and plan this in advance if you are staying over in a hotel.
  • Graze on your breakfast over a 20-minute period – nerves can make your rush it and cause digestive discomfort. Aim to eat 2-3 hours before the planned start of your event and have a small snack such as a banana or half an energy bar 60-75 minutes before you start.
  • Keep control of your nerves, remind yourself you have the training in the bank, positive thinking will be your best friend.
  • If running the 10k you might be wise to warm up for 5-10 mins to get the body moving before you start. If running the marathon use the first few miles of the 26.2 to ease into your effort and planned pace. Save all the energy you have for those last few miles…

The Race

  • Remember it’s a race about you against the distance – start sensibly. Running a good race is all about effort, pace and patience. Aim to run the first few km’s either at your goal race pace or even a few seconds slower. If you are not worried about time, work at the speed of chat. Most people hit a wall in the marathon run or struggle in the second half of a 10k because they were running the first half too hard.
  • Stay in control but enjoy the atmosphere and excitement you have created with your music, friends and family on route and the landmarks or countryside you have chosen to include.
  • Don’t rely heavily on your GPS for pacing every mile – it will probably hold signal just fine but have a feel for your effort and don’t keep looking at your watch. Use it to check your pace but don’t let it dominate your run.
  • Manage your energy and fuel economy and aim to take on gels consistently starting after 30-45 minutes the one every 30-40 minutes after, sipping on water or sports drink every 5km or to thirst. Try not to comfort drink if alone or through nerves sticking to what you normally practice.
  • Look forward to seeing friends and relatives at your chosen aid/supporter stations and break your race into segments, focusing on the segment you are in and getting that part of your overall run right.
  • If running the 10k your race begins after 5k as this is where you need to focus and keep that effort and pace going. If running the marathon your goal is to get to 30k or 20 miles working well but in control…. this is where your marathon begins. Now it’s time to push on and throw your remaining energy into maintaining a strong finish. To maintain pace you may have to work harder than before as the legs tire and your mind asks questions.
  • Through the final stages focus on the mile or kilometre you are in. Perhaps dedicate every mile or KM to someone important in your life – you won’t let them down when it counts. Focus on an imaginary vest in front and aim to pull in and pass the imaginary runners ahead of you. Keep your posture tall and relaxed and focus on feeling light not hitting the ground hard.
  • When you cross the line pump your fist in the air, soak up all the atmosphere of those incredible final few miles and be proud of a wonderful achievement during a period of uncertainty and worry for many. You are an inspiration and role model to so many – thank you!!

Good luck and love your run.

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