How to hit your peak on race day
Next weekend, the Focus Ireland Dublin Tunnel Run takes place. JIM DAVIS,a running coach and director of the race, gives his race-week tips
MY PHILOSOPHY is that training is the journey and racing is the destination. So when we are in the pre-race week we are nearing our destination.
The last few pre-race days are a very important part of the jigsaw. How many times have hopes for great performances been thrown away all because there was a need to do more? In the final phase of training, it is important to reduce the volume and intensity of training so the body is allowed to recover prior to the big effort.
Likewise, it is important that we approach the race mentally fresh so you are up for the challenge ahead. In the world of distance running some coaches and athletes are afraid to reduce the amount of work as they are in the mindset of more is best. While this thinking is acceptable for certain parts of the season, if one wants to achieve their true potential and 100 per cent effort you must taper prior to races.
A suggested programme for the coming pre-race week should be along the following lines, depending on how many days of the week you are currently training.
Monday: 45 to 60 minutes at an easy pace, approximately 90 seconds per mile slower than race pace.
Tuesday: An interval type session, for example four to six 1km runs, at 5km race pace, with two minute intervals between runs.
The warm-up prior to this session should be an easy 15 minutes, plus three to four 100-metre strides to stretch your legs, followed by an easy 15-minute warm down.
Wednesday: An optional 30 to 45 minutes at an easy pace.
Thursday: Run 40 to 50 minutes at an easy pace, but include six to eight 45 second pick ups at 10km pace during the run.
Saturday: Run for 25 to 35 minutes at an easy pace.
This schedule will allow you to arrive on the start line refreshed and ready to perform to your potential. Race-day plans are also an important part of the process, which some athletes neglect in their programme. Don’t do anything that you have not tried before racing in regard to your preparations.
As the Port Tunnel race start is at 10am, it is important that you are up at least three hours prior to the event, and also make sure you have something to eat at least three hours before the off, as it takes the body that amount of time to be able to perform to the challenges of racing.
The ideal pre-race meal of two slices of bread or a bagel with honey or jam will satisfy most needs without upsetting the system. Prior to racing, a Power Bar could also be eaten three hours before you start. On the pre-race days, it is important to keep hydrated but don’t overdo this part of the pre-race ritual as there is the danger of arriving on the line with a bloated feeling, which will have a negative affect on your performance.
Make sure to arrive at the race in plenty of time as stress in finding parking, for example, will affect how you run. As race day is a special day always have a special singlet and shorts to wear on the big occasion. I call this the Superman Suit as when you don that race day singlet, you know that you are ready for a supreme effort.
Everyone prior to a race is nervous and all athletes show it in different ways but nervousness primarily comes from the fear of failure and the will to do well.
Take confidence from the training you have done and turn that nervous feeling into determination. You are responsible for you own performance so focus on that. Have a race plan and stick to it from the gun, set your own pace from previous runs, and have an achievable target to aim at based on your training and fitness.
Judging by a previous Port Tunnel race, conditions will be hot so make sure your early pace is conservative to enable you to have that extra bit for the second half of the run.
Go for it. You can do it. And the best of luck on the day.