Do you want to run for an hour and a half, two hours, or even longer before the catcher car catches up with you at the World Run? If so, you ought to take it easy during the days leading up to the race.
Text: FIT for LIFE
Some love them, some don’t know what to do with them: those last days and weeks before a competition, the calm before the storm when you have so much more time at your disposal because you are training less. Some feel bad about putting their feet up.
It isn’t easy to know exactly how to prepare so that you can accomplish your personal best possible performance on a give day. On the one hand, you ought to be fully recovered from all training strain, stand at the starting line with your batteries fully charged. On the other hand, you want your body to perfectly prepared for what lies ahead so that you won’t take off in sleeping mode. It’s a thin line that even seasoned pros find hard to walk. Still, there are a few easy rules as to what gets you ahead during those last weeks and days before the race, and what will cause your performance to plummet.
Everybody wind down!
The most common mistake during the time leading up to a competition is being impatient and thinking that after all those weeks of rigid training, slowing down and reducing your exercise volume could have a negative effect on your form. The opposite is true: It’s crucial to reduce your training intensity massively before the big goal in order to stand at the starting line well rested.
Here’s your rule of thumb: The more your have trained during the run-up and the longer the competition you want to take part in, the more important the recovery stage before the run. Trainings that are totally exhausting are counterproductive during the last two weeks. You can’t make up for lost time – you can’t achieve what you should have accomplished earlier on during those two or three weeks before a long running competition.
Three weeks to go
- It’s ok to train normally – but moderately. The intensity ought to equal the one of a regular training week, assuming that one macro cycle during preparation consists of three training weeks that are increased in intensity (easy, regular, rigorous) plus one recreational week – four weeks in total. The trainings three weeks before the competition should not be rigorous anymore, but still not as light as during an easy or a recreational week.
- To start reducing the workout with three weeks to go until the competition does make sense for those runners that train four or more hours per week. Here, quality is now more important than exercise volume. These runners ought to opt for faster, shorter sessions with a high movement quality.
- Runners with a smaller training expenditure (up to 4h/week) and without a concrete training routine may train just like they are used to during this week.
- At this state, your overall daily routine should contain certain open spaces and not be filled up completely with schedules.
- The last long and exhausting training should take place during this week and no later.
Two weeks to go
- Runners with a training routine of more than 4h/week may consider this week a recreational week with an exercise volume that is reduced by at least one third.
- If you are a runner with an exercise volume of up to 4h/week, you may train normally if you keep the intensity level low to moderate.
- An ambitious athlete should do his or her final endurance workout of about two hours two weeks prior to the competition. Keep the pace rather slow and not up to competition speed!
- Recreational runners ought to do their final long run of about 80 minutes two weeks prior to the competition. Speed: moderate.
- Keep your scheduled fast training sessions short and at a moderate pace. Do not run until you’re totally exhausted anymore. Approximately 10 days before the competition, you may perform a run of 4 x 1km at race pace (elite runners: 8 x 1km).
- Your last hour-long run ought to take place approximately one week prior to the competition. Ambitious runners may do 80 minutes at a moderate pace.
- Schedule as many recreational phases as possible and get enough sleep.
Week of the competition
- All running categories reduce their amount of training massively. That way, your body will recover actively and will be in peak form thanks to the linear reduction.
- No more «escapades»: During the week of the competition, you should focus on running and abstain from weight training. That way, your muscular system will be focused on the running movement.
- Intense and demanding sessions are inappropriate. Go for two or three short and easy training runs of no more than 30 to 50 minutes each.
- No more workouts that last more than an hour!
- It’s better to put in one recreational day too many than not enough. But still: You shouldn’t reduce your training to zero because your body isn’t used to that.
- One faster training session of 4 to 5 times 60 seconds of top load can be useful on Tuesday or Wednesday of the competition week. That would be a short session with intermediate sprints, intensification, or a short, fast interval training – that gets your body going.
- Consider the major part of the workouts as “movement therapy” and not training. Try to work out in a technically accurate way and focus on the elements of good technique. That helps you to save energy.
- Friday is recreational day! You may do an extensive stretching session if you feel like it. Plan your workload so that the last two days leading up to the competition are not charged with useless hustle and bustle in your job.
- On the Friday before the World Run, go for a short footing at max, including a few short sprints for a good speed feeling if you wish.
- Put your feet up. Try not to stand around for long periods of time and avoid the sun, it makes you tired.
So now, have fun, enjoy the atmosphere, the special run for a good cause – and give the catcher car the hardest time possible!