When racing doesn’t go as planned, shoot for Plan B
|The summer is over, the leaves have dropped from the trees and now you are ready to go “all in” for your next race.|
The plan is to get a new PR. Whether you are racing a 5K or marathon, the risk for injury is elevated, hence comes the word “tweak.” By definition, tweak can mean to twist or pull something or improve by making fine adjustments, modify, adapt or refine.
As a runner we are faced with a double-edged sword — superior fitness through diligent preparation or injury brought on by excess. Our actions can slice in a positive manner and maximize our taper. Alternatively, we may get greedy and indulge in an extra speed session, long run, or hill workout and find ourselves injured or unable to compete at the level we desire. All is not lost if you keep these tips in mind.
A successful taper includes a gradual reduction in volume leading up to the event. A rule of thumb is this: the longer the race, the longer the taper. Add an extra day for each decade starting with age 40. In many ways, the wisdom of old age is “patience.” Remember you did all the hard work in the previous months, building endurance, strength and speed. Now it’s time to cash in on that training.
Marathons: Ease up three weeks out. Your last long run should be 18 to 20 miles.
Half-marathon: Ease up two weeks out. Keep the long run at 10 miles.
10K: Ease up 10 days out. Max length for long run should be 7 miles.
5K: Ease up one week out. Max length for long run should be 5 miles.
- Keep leg speed up with some strides of 100 to 150 meters.
- Flexibility. Stretch post run. If you like yoga, keep it up.
- Rest, rest and rest. Consistent sleep patterns, hopefully cultivated throughout the training season, will pay off now.
- Stay consistent with your fluid intake and portion control. As you reduce training volume and intensity, follow suit with the amount of food you eat as well. Additional weight gain right before a race is not a good thing.
- A common foot issue is plantar fasciitis. Inflamed tissue on the bottom of the foot can also impact the heel.
- Sore knees and hips can be exacerbated with increased weight. Think lean.
Unfortunately, time is the best healer, and sometimes this means you can miss out on that race if you need to let your body heal. It’s always nice to have a back-up race in the wings so your goals can still be met.
Take six days off if there is a minor injury, six weeks or more for more serious injuries and up to six months for severe injuries such as broken bones or torn muscles or ligaments.
Pain is a good indicator that something is amiss. Try to shy away from anti- inflammatory medicines as a routine way to address problems. Save those medicines for acute problems or temporary soreness. Gradual adaptation to stresses will achieve what we seek in improved performances.
Until next month, keep striding and smiling.
— Coach Mike