When you have a race coming up, you need to start thinking about what you're going to do in the two weeks leading up to the big day. Sure, you'll have all of your training behind you, but the tapering part of training is almost as important. You need to get to the start line as ready for the race as you can, which means you need to be fresh, hydrated and fully carb loaded up! Here are five mistakes you need to avoid during the "taper time" leading up to a marathon.
Not resting enough
There is a fine line between doing too much, and not doing enough the week before the race. You want to be on the start line feeling pretty fresh and ready to run, but you don't want to have overdone it during the week. The worst thing you can do is start to panic that you have not done enough training and start smashing in the sessions and running quicker during your steady runs in an effort to get fitter.
There is a piece of advice I was given at a young age, and I still remember it to this day. Nothing you do in training the week before the race is going to make you any fitter, all you can do is make yourself more tired. Don't leave your race in the training leading up to it. Be fresh, be sensible and above all don't you dare do anything you haven't done before... like a 50km run!
Resting too much
You want to keep "ticking over" the week of the race, so you want to put a little work into the legs, but nothing you can't recover quickly from. This might even be just a couple of easy runs with some strides at the end. This means you won't get to Sunday of the race and feel lethargic because you've been sat on the sofa all week.
If you are unsure of how much or how little to run, the general rule of thumb is to do about 20 per cent of your usual mileage. If you're still not sure, ask someone who’s done it before. Just have that little voice in your head saying "nothing you do this week will make me fitter for the race".
This is something that is often not taken seriously enough during race week. I swear by this ever since my first marathon. Even though you’re not running the miles you would normally run during the final week, you should eat like you are! Pasta every day for lunch and dinner (or another form of carbs) and eat as much as you can manage! This will really help stock up the fuel levels.
I generally start doing this five days out from the race, and try to get in 10g per kg of body weight - which for me is about 500-600g of carbs per day. It's a lot, but it can make a big difference.
Try to do things to take your mind off the race and don't waste energy getting nervous for the race, especially the whole week before the race! Stick to your normal routine and if possible stay off your feet as much as possible. Drink a lot the week of the race and make sure you're doing everything to be ready. You can also take on board carbs in drinks, so not only will this help you hydrate, it will also mean you are carb loading.
Have a race day plan
You want things to go as smoothly as possible on the actual race day, and to do this you need to make sure you know where you need to be, and what time you need to be there. Get everything ready the week before. You won't be running as much so use that extra time to make sure you have your vest, shorts and number ready to go.
Pin the number on your vest, find out which start you have to get to, and also work out how long it takes to get there. On race day there could be about 35,000 people heading for the same area, so be prepared for the crowds! Make sure you stick to your plan, and know what you are doing.