Race season is here! It’s time to train for peak fitness and a little tapering to get ready to race your best!
By now, you should be training toward a specific goal or ‘A’ race. Hopefully you’ve put in the weeks of base training and building your fitness (see Tri-Eva’s Training Tips-Spring for more on race planning and Base & Build Phases).
In the three to five weeks before your race, it’s time for the Peak Phase. The Peak Phase is just that- preparing yourself, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, to be at your peak level of fitness.
Peak training is not always easy. It requires a balance of decreased volume, increased intensity and all-important recovery- not to mention great timing so that you’re at your very best on race day. You may want to train as frequently as you have been (as many times per week), but workouts should be shorter and more intense. During the Peak Phase, it is even more important to make sure that you are allowing time for rest and recovery as more intense workouts can cause greater fatigue which can lead to burnout and injury. The last thing you want is to get injured just weeks before your big race!
Preparation is also required to get yourself ready mentally and emotionally. Start envisioning your perfect race and visualize yourself crossing the finish line. Look over your training journal to remind yourself of all of the hard work you’ve done. But be sure to have a back-up plan if things go wrong (think positively, but prepare for anything!) Do you know how to change a flat tire out on the course? How will you regain your focus if your goggles get knocked off during the swim? What is your personal mantra if things get tough? Sometimes it’s the mental preparation that pushes you those final steps to the finish line, so it is worth taking time to prepare your head as well as your body.
Finally, it’s time to taper. Though it’s difficult to cut back on training before your race (especially if you feel the need to last-minute cram), going into a race well-rested is key. Depending on the length of your race, taper can be anywhere from one week to three or four weeks. A good taper doesn’t mean sitting with your feet up (though that can certainly be part of your taper!) You should be backing off of your training. Even less volume is important here, but it is okay to incorporate short bursts of intensity to keep your edge. And be sure to eat well during your taper, both to help stay healthy and to avoid gaining pre-race weight as your body is less active than it has become accustomed to.
You’ve trained, you’ve rested, you’ve planned and envisioned your big day… nothing left to do now but get out there and race.
Good luck! You’re ready to rock!