At this point, your training is done, your race kit is ready for pick up, so, ready or not you’ll soon be toeing the line. It’s taper time. Race day is mere days away and that means to gear down, dial back and set into cruise control right? Well, not exactly. And whether you’re running a full or half marathon distance,before you cross the line, here’s what you need to know so that you can get out there, kick it and really make it count.
In the final days leading up to your race, you want to make sure you’re getting the sleep you need. Having your head hit your pillow for a solid eight hours every night is optimal, but if you’ve got young children in the house, a dog to walk or hours in your daily commute, that may not be your reality. Do the best you can and if that means resting your eyes on the commuter train, then so be it.
Trust Your Training
While this is the time to dial back the distance you’re logging, you don’t necessarily have to slow down your pace the week before your race. Listen to your body, maintaining an easy race pace for a few kilometres of your final taper runs can be beneficial both mentally and physically. Steer away from hilly terrain which can deplete your body’s glycogen stores which you’ll need to have fully charged for race day. You’ve put in the work and training, now is the time to focus on staying healthy, getting the rest you need and getting your mind into the game.
So carb loading the night before at the pasta dinner may seem like the best option, but in reality, you need consistent carbohydrates, especially in the week prior to your race. Why? Basically, your body stores carbs like those rice noodles or that pita bread, then uses it as fuel during activities like running 21.1 kilometers. In short, your body will thank you for having the pasta sooner than later because you’ll have the fuel you need to power though. Along with carbs, don’t underestimate the power of protein, which can help reduce muscle soreness that is inevitable after logging more kilometers in one shot than you have probably done in training.
Even for active people, downing the right amount of water can be a tough deal. Ideally you should be drinking enough fluids, so that you’re urinating every two to three hours. But drink too much and you’ll not only over hydrate but you will throw off your electrolyte balance. It’s a fine balance, as electrolytes are the much needed nutrients that help prevent muscle cramping, especially when you’re running long distances like, say a marathon. And saving the beer for post-race celebrations rather than during your taper, makes it easier to stay hydrate.