Brent Fougner, director of the Athletics Canada National Endurance Centre – Victoria and eight-time CIAU coach of the year, and his wife Trish Fougner, a sports consultant and former national team runner, offer an eight-week plan to giving your running a spring tune-up. Follow them on Twitter at @coachfougner and @foggygirl
Once you have your race date confirmed, it’s time to start planning to have an optimal race.
As you head into your pre-race week, it’s important to be on the start line with absolutely no fatigue in the legs. Cutting back or tapering your training in this final week is crucial. Reduce the volume of your runs to about 70 per cent of a typical week. It’s important to maintain some zone 3 running in this last week, but cut back on the distance. If possible, run part of race course (or at least bike or drive it) so you can check for elevation changes, changes in running surface, corners and any other potential challenges. It’s also valuable to identify certain landmarks throughout the course, which will help you visualize and plan out your race strategy and pace.
Prior to race day, assemble a timeline for your race-day preparation. The day before, start by laying out your running gear, race number, pins and other essentials. That way there is no last-minute panic over missing items, and you don’t get to the race and realize you forgot to pack your timing chip! All of this preparation will aid in keeping you calm and help you relax.
If your race is early in the morning, eating a meal that you will digest in time may be difficult. At this point in your preparation, you will have experimented with different foods. Stay with what’s familiar and don’t try something different. The key is to have tried everything before you get to race day and duplicate the meals and the timing that work for you.
Arrive at the race with plenty of time to do a full warm-up. You can do the soft tissue and activation stretches at home but make sure you have a thorough warm-up run prior to the race.
Remember, in any road race, going out too fast will have a detrimental effect on your final time. Get into your own rhythm at the start and ignore those around you who are pushing the pace off the start line. If you pace yourself well, you will pass most of them in the second half of the race. There is nothing more motivating in a road race than passing fellow runners who made the fatal mistake of a fast early pace!
So what is your pace? If you are racing a 5K, then try to calculate a pace based off your zone 4 workouts. Be conservative, allowing yourself some room to speed up in the second half. In a 10K, start out at your zone 3 pace for half the race. If you are feeling good, start to increase the pace gradually. In both cases you should be able to have what is called a negative split, meaning the last half of your race is faster than the first half. Remember: Plan ahead and run your own race. Good luck!
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