The final week - less is more
Many athletes are uncertain as to what they should still do in the final week before a longer running event. The most important tips.
Even though the mind actually knows that nothing more can be gained in terms of training during the last days before a target competition, there is a lot to lose which is why restraint is called for, making it extremely difficult for many amateur athletes to relax their legs without a bad conscience. The tension is high, but self-confidence is usually low and uncertainty prevails as to whether one could not perhaps have been better prepared. But it is how it is - so the following applies: make the best of it:
Reduce your training: In this phase the main part of your training has been completed, which now means it’s a case of waiting and drinking tea, or in other words: now is the time to concentrate on your recovery, so that you are rested on the day of the competition and the supercompensation can unfurl its full effect. It doesn’t matter whether you want to complete your first half marathon or are already an experienced long-distance runner, the following applies to both: you need to drastically reduce your usual scope of training during the week of the competition.
Refrain from doing any more exhaustive training: In terms of content, it is also recommended that less-experienced competitors significantly reduce the intensity of their planned training units. While you will no longer improve your fitness level by doing strenuous units during the last few days, you can still make it significantly worse. This is slightly different for well-trained runners and experienced competitors; they usually have better experiences by keeping up the intensity of their training until a few days before the competition, at least by doing short units and tempo runs or forms of interval training that are not exhaustive. Fast sections in the last few days before the challenge impart liveliness and a better body feeling. In general, high-performance runners regenerate faster and can still tolerate such units without any difficulty.
Fill up your reserves: During the last few days, it is generally a case of topping up your muscle reserves with a carbohydrate-rich diet. But careful consideration should also be given to your last meal before the competition, especially if you are staying in a hotel away from home. The problem with a hotel buffet is that only a limited selection is on offer and lacks precisely that which you would have liked to have. However, you can always find white bread and/or toast and jam or honey, which will serve you well. But if in doubt, it’s best to bring along a portion of your familiar favourite meal from home.
Drink a lot: Especially in summer you should make sure that you are sufficiently «watered» at the start of a competition and drink plenty of fluids in the days beforehand. A visual check is pale urine.
Ease off stress: The last days should generally be organised to be a bit more stress-free and comfortable than the usual hectic rush of everyday life, however, it is especially important to get enough sleep. This particularly applies to the last few days before the challenge. On the other hand, it is not tragic if you don’t sleep so long and well on the last night.
The last meal: Right before a long and intensive physical exertion, a carbohydrate-rich and low-fibre (so no wholemeal products!) meal approximately three to four hours before the competition is ideal. Not only white bread with honey or corn flakes and breakfast cereals (without fruit, little yoghurt) are a possibility, but also hot meals in the form of pasta or potatoes can be eaten at this time. Hard-to-digest foods such as vegetables, salad, or cucumber are inappropriate.
The last sip: Those who have drunk enough in the days beforehand will not need to drink anything during the last two hours before the start. After the last visit to the toilet, you can take a few sips of fluid (max. 2-3 decilitres) shortly before the start. This will ensure that you don't have a full bladder when standing at the starting line.
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