50 and over 5k and beyond

1

How much do you back off in the days leading up to a race... (Read 16 times)

NH Runner


Rich

    I'm trying to do better about NOT overtraining this year, so in that vein I thought I'd ask this question.  How do you train the last few days leading up to a race?  This isn't about tapering for a marathon, I'm talking about shorter races up to a half marathon...

     

    Thanks...

    Art in AZ


      I think it depends on how you feel and the length.

       

      For a HM the weekend before is a long distance of usually 11 - 12 miles. Then I taper from there usually with 8, 5, 3 and 3 leaving Friday or Saturday as a rest day. Well I usually walk a couple of miles in the morning just to help wake me up. I get to keep running and psyched for the race and feel rested on race day. This seems to work for me.

       

      Shorter distances like a 5K I just rest the day before. For a 10K I usually still do my 8 mile loop with inclines Wednesday, Thursday is 5 with Friday doing 3 miles. Saturday is rest with Sunday being race day. Plus I think trying to get a good nights sleep and a little something to eat in the morning helps.

      Art in AZ

      Mesa, AZ

      2/10/2013 Year of the Dragon 5K 23:47

      3/02/2013 Phoenix Half 1:50:23

      3/10/2013 Mountain to Fountain 15K 1:16:59

      04/20/2013 Too Hot to Trot 5K 23:58

        NH Runner - My last HM was in 1999 and I did full marathons in 2000 and 2004. After not running for several years I did 5Ks in Sept. of 2011 and in 2012. So I don't have much experience to draw from, but here is my two cents worth: As a general rule for any race I would try to reach my training peak about two weeks before the race, idealy doing a long slow run of a greater distance than you will in the race and some short runs at race pace. If you can it is good to run the race course to get familiar with it. For a HM or shorter race I might do another long run a week before the race, but nothing too long or fast, something that I would feel good afterwards and not sore or tired, You certainly do not want to do anything that could cause stress or injury. I would continue with short runs, but nothing too fast or hard, the idea being to maintain the level of fitness while giving yourself the chance to fully recover and heal. Even in a short race I would rest or only do a very short slow paced run or a walk for two or three days before the event. The night before a race, like the Russian athletes do, I eat a big bowl of kasha (buckwheat groats) instead of pasta . The morning of the race I take my vitamins and have a banana smoothie, I don't eat anything until the end of the race because I think it will just sit in my stomach during the race. I think your energy goes into your muscles in the race and digestion is put on hold. I don't have a lot of experience, but this seems a sensible approach. If you did your homework and trained well beforehand, after taking it easy for a week or two you should be ready for a good performance in your race.

          For all goal races, I do a serious taper, cutting volume significantly but keeping or increasing the intensity of the workouts. For less important races, I still back off for a couple of days prior, keeping some intensity but cutting volume drastically. I failed to follow my own strategy for my low-key 10K race this past weekend, and paid dearly - I was over 2 minutes slower than I should have run it, based on previous year's times at this particular race. It was an experiment, not to be repeated.

           

          For half marathon races, I like to do a 10 day taper, based on the idea of the " fast, exponential decay" type of taper, as discussed here. I've had great success with this type of taper for goal races. The last few days before a race I like to run only short, fast  runs, with short easy warm-ups. I also usually take the 2nd day before a goal race off completely, and optionally I may take a 2nd day off completely earlier in that week before the race. Check my workout calendar for the weeks before my most recent half-marathon on March 2nd for an idea of the type of taper that works best for me. If you're not a person who does a lot of interval work, you would NOT want to do the intervals that I do before a race since they could make you sore and slow you down, Substitute something a bit slower and longer instead.

           

          Good luck,

          - Cecil

          NH Runner


          Rich

            Thanks for some great answers.   I've been backing off similar to the way Art does, but it's been hard to judge whether it's enough or not.  I'd be ready to race before some races, but arrive at the start on dead legs for others.

             

            Altair, you've apparently done a better job of "listening to your body" and knowing when to back off than I have, good for you.

             

            Everyone should read Cecil's link to "exponential decay" tapers, it's really interesting stuff.  Cecil, I wasn't able to find your workout calender, but I'll look again.  Thanks for a great article!

              ...

               Cecil, I wasn't able to find your workout calender, but I'll look again.  Thanks for a great article!

               

               

               

              My workout calendar should be visible by all?     Link to it is here.

                RichGo to reports at the left and click.  Then click on Cecil57.

                 

                Cecil57 - Article is definitely worth the read.  Sounds like experienced runners will benefit the most.  Being more geek like then most I especially appreciate the quantifying formulas near the end (and the examples help bring it home).  Have you used the formulas?  If so, how did you determine Max heart rate?

                 

                Altair & Art - I've never done any formal tapering plans before races.  I've always been more of seat of the pants type and normally take 1-2 days off before races.  Of course, it depends on how I'm treating the race, some are more training runs.  These days, I like to try and get in a quicker 3 miles (Monday or Tuesday) within about 30s of my target pace with negative splits (e.g mile 1 - 8:30, mile 2 - 8:00, mile 3 - 7:30), followed by an easy run the next day (~4-5 miles), Thursday and Friday off (means just walking for me) and then race on Saturday.


                Ray

                 

                Art in AZ


                  I think this shows us that we all have different thoughts on this. And we're willing to try different ideas in the hope of improving on what we are doing. Face it. We are all competitive to some degree. We all want to improve.

                   

                  As for the article, I agree it is a good read. And I think it has merit. But what I question when I read these types of articles is some of the information they leave out. At least to me. The article didn't mention the age of the test participants and I think that should be an important consideration. Most of us will agree that as we get older we lose little in endurance while losing more in strength. For those of us that continually exercise. For those that don't exercise, all bets are off.

                   

                  I would be interested in seeing the differences between the 20, 30, 40 year olds against us 50, 60 and older group. Would the differences be the same, better or worse? Plus it seems like a lot of work to me to keep track of the information. Me, I just want to run and enjoy myself. I know there will always be someone faster in my age group. As you run more and add longer distances you will get acclimated to that and things get and feel better. So says the guy who has raced 3 times this year and set PRs in 3 different distances. Beating all my times set in my 50's.

                  Art in AZ

                  Mesa, AZ

                  2/10/2013 Year of the Dragon 5K 23:47

                  3/02/2013 Phoenix Half 1:50:23

                  3/10/2013 Mountain to Fountain 15K 1:16:59

                  04/20/2013 Too Hot to Trot 5K 23:58

                    ...

                     

                    Cecil57 - Article is definitely worth the read.  Sounds like experienced runners will benefit the most.  Being more geek like then most I especially appreciate the quantifying formulas near the end (and the examples help bring it home).  Have you used the formulas?  If so, how did you determine Max heart rate?

                     

                    ...

                     

                     

                    I roughly follow the formulas for doing an exponential decay taper, but I never train or taper using heart rate, just pace, distance and intensity. All of my major goal races in the past two years where I "hit it out of the park" with a major PR (for me) were done using this form of tapering. It has worked extremely well for me.

                     

                    I have tested my max heart rate twice in the past couple of years, just to see what it was. I do this test on an incline treadmill set to 15% grade initially, and warm up slowly and gradually speeding it up for 10-12 minutes, then increase the slope to 18% and gradually speed up the machine some more while monitoring my heart rate with both a wrist heart rate monitor and the heart rate monitor built into the treadmill, both of which use the signal from my single heart  rate monitor strap. I basically run increasingly harder until my heart rate stops increasing, then speed up the TM one more notch and hold it for as many seconds as I can, gasping for air like crazy at this point, until I have to either step off or fall off. This whole process is rather noisy and dramatic and is probably very annoying to all the other TM and elliptical users at my rec center...