As the Hampshire Hoppit approaches this weekend and the final race instructions have been sent out it’s time to start your ‘tapering’ to make sure that you’re raring to go on the start line on Sunday. It’s important that if you want to give the race your best shot then you need to arrive feeling fresh and recovered from your training.
How do I taper?
Tapering doesn’t mean you should stop training altogether, just that you should cut back on the volume and intensity of your running and that you have good rest and nutrition for the week leading up to the event.
How will tapering help my body recover?
Your training will probably have caused some muscle damage and you will almost certainly have some creaks and aches that need to be dealt with. Give them some time
Marathon (and first time half-marathon) runners often find their legs give out towards the end of the race – the risk of this happening is increased if you’ve got sore muscles and tired legs before you start. It’s important to cut down the training in the week leading up to the race particularly the long or hill sessions.
Carbohydrate stores (The TECHNICAL BIT!)
Your body can only store a limited amount of energy in your muscles (around 600g of carbohydrate and a small amount of fat), and this store will have depleted during your training. So it’s important to maximise your intake of carbohydrate, and build your energy levels back up before the race. Usually food intake is relative to your training – the more you train, the more you need to eat. But, by tapering your training and keeping your food intake the same, you’ll replenish your carbohydrate stores.
Another good tip is to time your meals so you eat no later than 30 minutes after training – this will ensure you store less food as body fat and more as muscle glycogen.
It’s worth easing off the alcohol this week as it has no nutritional benefits in the lead-up to your race and the effects of dehydration are not pleasant during a long run. The bonus of the Hoppit races are that you get beer at the end!
What else do I need to consider while I taper?
The Practical bit in summary:
- Eat well, hydrate and get lots of sleep
- Get your kit out a few days in advance and check it’s all good. Don’t try new kit for the first time on the day of the race – NEVER a good idea!
- If you like particular snacks/gels etc, make sure you take them with you. SALT can be a problem if it’s a hot one so make sure you think about that as well. (if you’ve not tried out salt tabs yet mini-cheddars are a good and easy alternative!)
- If you’re prone to blisters then make sure you tape your feet and take a supply of blister plasters with you.
- Vaseline and Sudacrem = essential and nothing more needs to be said here!
- Sun cream likely to be needed and a sun cap & glasses may be a good option
- READ the race instructions – they’re good and detailed and good preparation is key for a successful run.
Here are some final things to keep in mind as you taper your training:
•Sometimes runners can start to feel ill when they taper their training, so it’s important to keep check of how you’re feeling. If you become lethargic, it could be a sign that you need to do some speed training to perk yourself up – running as little as 2 x 200m at your half marathon pace could be enough: OR why not try an alternative such as a Spinning session or a swim?
•Many runners get a sports massage in the week before a race. Contact Reception at NEF if this is something you’re interested in. I can recommend!
•Don’t forget the importance of stretching as you taper. YOGA is a perfect way of getting an active stretch into your routine. Log on and book a class if you haven’t already …http://www.newenergyyoga.co.uk
You’ve done the work so enjoy the race :0)