I can’t help but think back to last year at this time as I prepare once again for this Sunday’s More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon.
You may remember that I had seriously and unexplainably injured my left shoulder exactly one week before last year’s race. I couldn’t lift my arm, didn’t sleep for nine days straight and experienced pain far worse than giving birth to my son.
Somehow I still managed to run the half last year and even pulled through with a PR for myself at that time.
I haven’t a clue how I did it. It wasn’t my legs that were injured so running with a half-working arm doesn’t sound so terrible but looking back, I find myself insane for having such a desire to run that race that nothing, not even nine nights without sleep was going to stop me.
Don’t get me wrong- training for a race, running and crossing the finish line is an amazing feeling. I am super excited for this Sunday as well as focused on my taper plan leading up to the big day but part of me feels that if I were in the same injured position, I wouldn’t care as much if I had to ditch the race day plan; there is always another opportunity to race or at least run 13.1 somewhere.
The morning of the race last year I did feel better, just not 100 percent. I didn’t follow my intended taper week plan yet somehow I ran a good race.
What is a good taper plan? How do you know what you are supposed to do? What are you supposed to eat and how often should you run and rest to ensure a terrific race?
The truth is, I don’t have an answer that will work for everyone. You can google “taper week plans” and will likely come across a variety of workout regimens, food combinations and all sorts of advice. And really, even with following a plan, eating the “right” foods and running a bit less, there are no guarantees to how you will perform on race day.
The best advice I can give is tell you what I try to do in the days leading up to a race and perhaps some of my plan, if not all of it, can work for you too.
1. Reduce Mileage
I still run during the taper week but make sure to reduce my mileage and not run back-to-back days.
Some people schedule their rest day for the day prior to a race but I have found that my legs stay looser and fresher by running a bit so I take the Friday off instead.
I don’t know the exact amount of miles I will run today or Thursday but I don’t think more than five (or six) each day. I intend to run most of those miles easy with maybe some short bursts of speed just so my legs remember what they are supposed to do on Sunday.
2. Hydrate and Eat Some Carbs
A huge positive I remember during my last half marathon was how NOT thirsty I was during the race.
A few days prior to a race, I make sure to drink extra water, as in, with every glass I finished I poured myself another one.
Hydrating is not limiting to water. I strongly believe in the power of hydrating fruits.
I don’t adjust the rest of my diet all that much. As a vegetarian, I kind of feel like my plate is always carb focused. That being said, I do ensure that my diet during the days leading up to the race includes bananas, potatoes, watermelon and this year, something tells me pizza.
More on what I will eat tomorrow and the rest of the week.
One thing I know for sure is that I won’t mess around with race day breakfast. Like they say, stick to what has worked for you in the past and never venture to try anything new.
I always go with oatmeal mixed with banana and a drop of peanut butter. I usually eat half when I wake up and the other half on the way to the race.
I never like to start out feeling hungry. Some people prefer to run on an empty stomach but I just can’t.
3. Race Day Essentials
I am typically super organized which I think automatically means I am a planner.
The weather forecast so far is showing warm enough for me to wear my Lulu skirt and maybe long sleeves. I still need to decide.
I am currently working on adding some new songs to my playlist because I am suddenly tired of most of the songs I listen to each day.
Any suggestions for me? I am bored with the new songs on the radio and don’t want to feel the need to change the song while I am trying to run the race.
Posts from last year’s unforgettable race:
And from Runner’s World, a great article on tapering mistakes:
Do You Make These Four Tapering Mistakes?
Do you do anything specific to prepare for a race?
Favorite foods to eat before a race?
Have you ever run a race injured?