- Training – it’s essentially over but there’s something you can do for optimal performance
- Nutrition – get your carbs right. Starch the night before, fast and slow release on the day.
- Recovery – warm down, foam roll, stretch over the next few days.
- Preparation – Get a massage now, know your route and pack your bag. Leave nothing to chance.
This should have finished by now. All the hard work is done, and you're confident you can complete the distance.
We call this tapering, where the event is close enough that any hard training sessions will most likely be detrimental to performance. The focus is now on recovering from the months of training you've done so you're fresh for Sunday.
I would recommend 2 running sessions with the last being on Thursday. The purpose is just to keep the body ticking over and ensure some good blood flow to the legs. Keep it slow, keep the heart rate low, and try not to get out of breath for long periods of time. I would suggest a maximum of 30 minutes.
Let’s not overcomplicate this... It's only a half marathon remember. The body can store enough glycogen (stored carbohydrates) for around 60-90 minutes of hard exercise. This means a peri-workout (during the race) carbohydrate feed is probably not necessary.
Carb-loading? Again, not necessary to go over the top here. A good starchy meal the night before (rice, potatoes or pasta) should top up your muscle and liver glycogen stores - especially if your training load has been light this week (as it should have been!).
Smash back a good 500ml of water in the morning to rehydrate you from your sleep and prepare you for the sweat you'll lose during the race. You might want to have a coffee - caffeine has been proven time and time again to be one of the best, legal, ergogenic aids and it's unlikely that one will dehydrate you.
During the race keep an eye out for the water stations - hopefully it won’t be too hot, but you could still lose a litre of water every hour through sweat. Take on board what you can, but bear in mind the gut won’t absorb much if you’re running at intensity and there could be a discomfort factor to deal with. Little and often is the key here.
Post-race - carb up! You'll be severely depleted here, especially if you've run at high intensity, but it's likely that your muscle stores will be almost empty and the liver won't have much to replenish it (which it does slowly). The carbs will help ease muscle soreness and get you back training sooner.
Protein is a must here too. Your legs will have gone through some serious trauma. It's not a really hilly course, but the length and the few hills that there are will be enough to cause some muscular damage and protein will help repair. I would recommend a post-workout shake containing carbohydrates and protein in a 2:1 ratio (for optimal uptake) within half an hour of finishing the race. Within two hours of completion you should be having a big meal... just go nuts here - you've earned it.
Keep an eye open for part 2 later this week. Let me know what your pre-race breakfast is? I'm always looking for new ideas!