Congratulations, the hard work is done! We have now entered the easiest training phase, but the most important preparation phase of your Two Oceans journey. This is the phase where all your hard work can be converted into a great race or completely undone. It is a bit like baking a cake, this is the point where you need to put the batter in the oven and just leave it alone to rise. Training now is just gentle ticking over with a few short sharp sessions to keep to the fires burning.
Remember: We want to get to the start line healthy, strong and injury free!
(A word of caution: If you have missed a significant portion of the past 3 weeks training or are currently struggling with illness or injury then it is wise to get professional advice from a coach, doctor or physiotherapist on whether it is advisable for you to still run.)
As you start to cut back on the training and your body starts to relax, your immune system will also let down the guard a bit. It is therefore important in this time to get in plenty of good nutrition and sleep and to minimize other potential stressors as far as possible. If you do pick up a head cold or the flu, allow enough time to get completely well. You are going to make no gains by trying to keep training.
This is also not the time to try anything new!
In the last 3 weeks reduce your mileage while maintaining the frequency (this is very important to prevent feeling sluggish on race day!) of training. ie. if you were training 4 days a week, continue to train 4 days but cut back the mileage. A good general guideline is as follows –
With 3 weeks to go – do 75% of your usual weekly mileage, with 2 weeks to go – do 50% of your usual mileage, in the last week follow a schedule of short runs with a few acceleration runs.
3 Weeks before should be your last very long LSD and should be at the most 32 km. If you did a big one with 4 weeks to go, only do a 20 km. A long run of 40 km or more takes at least 4 weeks to recover from! 2 Weeks to go, only do 90 min- 2 hours or 18-20 kilometers.
If you were doing strength work in the gym – cut back to light bodyweight exercises in the 3rd week before the race and in the last 2 weeks use your gym time to focus on activities that aid recuperation such as foam rolling and gentle stretching (Or just chill out in the coffee bar!).
Below is a sample schedule for the last week before race day:
Sunday: Easy 30-40 minute run
Tuesday: 5km at an easy pace. End of with a few short acceleration runs over 50-100m.
(If you are going for a massage before the race, it should be no later than the Tuesday, closer to the race and it can leave you feeling flat and sluggish)
Wednesday: 4km at an easy pace. End of with a few short acceleration runs over 50-100m.
Thursday: REST REST REST!!! This is the most important rest day. Feet up! If you must go to the expo then walk around as little as possible. Thursday is also the most important day to do most of your carboloading and to get to bed very very early.
Friday: 3km at an easy pace. End of with a few short acceleration runs over 50-100m.
Saturday: GO TIME!
Coming next week…
This phase is the time where you are probably going to have the most doubts about whether you will be able to achieve your goal and you might start feeling some panic set in. Next week I will be discussing strategies to stay calm in the final build up.
Keep running, laughing and living TO THE MAX!