HOW TO TAPER BEFORE A RACE! | Sage Running Tips and Advice
Race Day Preparation and How to Peak
One of the most important aspects of race day preparation is to time your training in order to peak on race day. Athletes use the term "peaking" to describe being in the absolute best condition (physical, emotional and mental) at a specific time for an event or race. Peaking is not easy to do, and it requires a lot of experience and planning, but there are things that can make peaking much more likely.
Keep in mind that you can have many "peaks" during the year and during the season, but most elite athletes aim for one primary event or goal and plan the rest of the training season around that. Recreational athletes can easily have multiple peaks of a lesser degree. This is common if you race many different "fun runs" during the summer. If you are on a recreational league or team you probably have a built-in season, and your training is planned so you continually improve and peak during playoffs or a final event.
Start your planning by getting out a calendar and writing down your one or two-goal events and work backward to today. There are many ways to plan your schedule, and working with an expert coach is probably the best.
The following tips will help you build a general plan of your own. Your training program will include four phases:
- Building a base of fitness
- Building aerobic capacity
- Building speed
- Tapering for the event
Phase One: Building a Base With Long Slow Distance
About half of your training time between your start day and your first goal event should be spent building a solid base of fitness for your sport. This can last months if you are a new exerciser or if your goal event is a long way away, or weeks if you are in shape and looking at an event next month. Most of these early workouts focus on easy endurance training. These workouts can feel too easy for many athletes who like to go fast or hard to feel like they are getting something out of it. Don't make this mistake. Stay easy and slow, focus on improving technique, strength, and endurance.
Base training is extremely important to peaking and cannot be rushed. If you start intense work too soon, you are risking injury or illness later on. Base training allows muscles, joints, and tendons to get stronger slowly and adapt easily to increased loads and efforts. Base training includes some easy cross training as well.
Base fitness is all about getting out there and moving and having fun. Pace, intensity, and effort really aren't important.
Phase Two: Building Aerobic Capacity Through Sustained Efforts
The next phase of a standard peaking program comprises the next quarter (or so) of your training time between the start day and the race day. During this time, you focus on increasing your aerobic capacity, power, and speed and getting more "sport-specific." You also need to adhere to the 10 Percent Rule to avoid injury. During this phase you increase training effort by maintaining long, higher intensity sustained efforts. Your training volume may stay the same and you'll include more rest days. Your strengthening program becomes more focused on your sport.
Phase Three: High-Intensity Intervals for Speed
After you've built your base, speed, and power, you are ready to focus on specific training needed for your race or event. You add interval work of high-intensity, shorter duration efforts (60-90 seconds sprints). This is very intense training that requires more rest between workouts. Injuries are more likely too, so following a rest and recovery schedule is critical. For an example of a treadmill interval workout, try interval training.
Phase Four: Tapering Before the Event
The final phase of race preparation is the taper. This comprises the last two weeks prior to your event. In this phase, you reduce your training volume (mileage) by half. You continue to do high-intensity intervals, but reduce the number of repeats that you do by half and rest fully between them.
Video: Marathon Tapering Tips: Prepare to Run Your Best Marathon [Ep46]
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