Prior to any competition , the science of exercise and human performance have shown that better performance is achieved if the athlete schedules a well planned tapering of his or hers training intensity and volume (quantity) just prior to competition, and will follow with a psychological and nutritional preparation, in order to aim for their “peak” in performance on the day of the event. On course, every athlete is a different person and all sports will have a distinct tapering strategy. The objective of the tapering is to maximize ones training gains allowing the body to be fully restored and “recharged”, with a focused mind in order to provide the best output, which the body was trained to do. Veteran athletes and those with a well coach-supervised training plan will for sure have their tapering workouts in their planner.
As with any training plan the individualization is the key to the specificity of a successful training schedule. If you had to recover from running related injuries during your preparation, it is very important to avoid “overloading” your joints and ligaments as these structures take much longer to recover from the exercise stress than your muscles, and your heart and lungs.
Accept the fact that all your hard training is complete. Your next goal is the nurture your body in preparation for the race.
Do not experiment with new activities this close to the race date. This includes no new routes for training, no new exercises (including new stretches), no new type of exercise equipment that you have not used during your normal training.
Here is a simple example of a tapering program TWO WEEKS PRIOR to a marathon or half marathon event on a Sunday:
Week before the last:
Sun: your last strong run (10-12 mi);
Mon, Wed and Fri: Active Rest : Unloading activities (light swimming, stretching, massage);
Tue, Thus and Sat: The ideal is to avoid the ground-pounding running to save the joints and ligaments for the big day. Plan for lower intensity non-impact cardio, for 40-50 minutes, using a bike out-doors or at the gym in a stationary bike or elliptical machines. This followed by stretching sessions.
Last Week before the Race:
Sunday: Rest – Prepare goodies for the racing day;
Tue and Thu: lower intensity non-impact cardio, for 30 minutes, followed by stretching;
Wed and Fri: Active Rest : Unloading activities (light swimming, stretching, massage). You may want to get to your racing destination on Friday. Start carbo-loading meals.
Sat: Rest. Continue Carbo-loading meals.
SUNDAY: Give your best!
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