Race Tapering

22 05 2007

May 22, 2007- By Brian Klink, F4 Denver Head Coach

f4-workout-8-12-06-002.jpg The last week or two before a big race are typically taper weeks. As such, this is not the time to sneak in a few more days of intense training or attempt to ‘make up’ missed training from earlier in the season. If you must do more of anything this week, do more of rest, hydrate, massage (although be careful to do it early in the week if you’ve never had massage or it’s been a while), stretch, and prepare your mind. A taper week should still contain some intensity, but the volume of training is reduced significantly. With this reduction in volume, you may find yourself wondering what to do with the time you would normally spend training. My suggestion is to spend that time preparing your mind for the race. You’ve spent months preparing your body; now devote some quality time preparing yourself mentally with visualization.

According to Dr. Leif Smith in his article “Winning the Mind Game,” visualization is simply focused daydreaming that’s goal-oriented. Dr. Smith says to set aside a quiet period of time like 10 minutes or so, close your eyes, and choose a desired outcome, such as crossing the finish line at or before your goal time. Incorporate as many senses as possible. Hear the cadence of your feet synchronized with your breathing; feel the sun on the back of your neck; smell the cool, crisp early morning air; taste the salt from the sweat around your lips; see the finish line. Dr. Smith emphasizes staying positive―always picture yourself succeeding, despite the hard work required.

During visualization, feel the sensations of effort that you’ll experience during the Arby’s Rocky Mountain Half Marathon―the tightness in your chest from breathing so hard, the heavy feeling of lactic acid in your legs, the discomfort and tiredness in your shoulders, the fatigue of the second half of the race, and even the negative thoughts that come along. Now, while feeling all those sensations of effort, picture yourself as positive and successful. Even with all those challenges, you’re dealing with them very effectively, and you’re right on pace. It’s a difficult, challenging race, but you’re going to be successful in reaching your goals! And feel the overwhelming satisfaction that you’re going to be successful in reaching your goals for this year’s Arby’s Rocky Mountain Half!

The important training days aren’t so much the long or intense workouts―time trials, track workouts, hill runs, and long runs―as they are the days off and easy days in between. It’s during the days off that your body adapts to the stresses imposed by intense exercise. That adaptation, then, allows your body to perform at even higher levels on subsequent training or racing days. Rest is far more important than a few extra days of intervals or race pace running. Take out the rest and recovery days, and you leave your body no time to adapt physiologically. Cheat on your taper weeks, and you’ll have the same result.

So, you want to run this year’s Arby’s Rocky Mountain Half Marathon to be your best race yet? You want to feel ready for your race? Rest, recover, taper. Give your body time to adapt physiologically to all of the stresses you’ve imposed over the past months. Go into your big race tapered, recovered, and mentally prepared, and you’ll rock………….guaranteed……………….. well, almost!




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