Race week is unlike other training weeks in so many ways. You may have executed a great training plan up to race week but if you don’t make the necessary adjustments in the final week and sometimes two weeks leading up to a race you could face unnecessary challenges. Here I will share considerations for the week leading up to a race. You will need to make adjustments to match your needs. For additional assistance it’s always a great idea to consult with a coach.
Week of Race – General Considerations
- Reduce workout volume by 40-60%
- Run, bike and swim will vary. I cut more run volume out of my week as running has more wear and tear on the legs vs. cycling and swimming (non-impact). If you are racing long distance and/or have a large training load you may need to start this reduction in volume the week prior as well.
- Keep effort/speed work
- It’s still important to incorporate workouts that prime the fast twitch muscles for race day without compromising recovery/preparation time. I do these earlier in the week for running and my last bike effort is generally three days prior – but not a workout that would completely destroy or compromise my legs. Run ex. – Tuesdays I may do three miles of speed within a 8-10 overall mile workout during a regular week. During race week I still run the three miles of speed within the workout but the total mileage is five.
- Consider alternatives to keep the mind and body active
- Walks, Yoga, Easy swims, lunch or dinner with friends/family you may not usually be able to squeeze in, chores/projects not normally able to get to
- Plan race prep, nutrition, location, etc.
- Early in the week do as much preparation about race day as you can. Identify times to be at packet pick-up, the race, meeting up with friends and/or team. Determine how long it will take to get to the race location the morning of the race. Plan your nutrition needs before, during, and after the race.
Two Days Prior to Race Day (Off Day)
When I first started racing my coach told me to try two different approaches the two days leading up to the race. The first was taking the day off two days prior with a mini-run the day before the race. The second option was to flip the two days with the day prior being the off day and two days before containing the mini-run. When I tried it my experience wasn’t even close. I respond much better doing the mini-run the day before the race so I take the off day two days prior to the race – do what works best for YOU.
- I do say ‘off day’ but I still may sneak in an easy swim, light massage, a visit to Dr. Mike Abenoja, or a vinyasa yoga (make sure it’s not a power yoga type of session). The intent with all of these activities is to get my body as loose as it can get. Dr. Abenoja finds things I don’t even know are tight…he’s gold!
- Eat very clean
- Eliminate processed foods, foods with added salt, oil and sugars, and try not to add salt, oil or sugar to meals. Also eliminate animal products if you are consuming any regularly. They do so many negative things to our bodies with one being inflammation so we want to eliminate that prior to a race.
- Prioritize sleep on this night as the night prior to a race you don’t know how well or how much you can sleep. It’s proven you don’t lose your ability to perform extremely well without adequate sleep the night before a race but if you have two insufficient nights of sleep it can so make sure this is the night you get good quality sleep.
Day Prior to Race Day
- 20 minute run
- I complete a short run with striders (pick ups) incorporated. This I have found to act as a great primer for my leg muscles followed by stretching
- At minimum I have one extra electrolyte drink late in the day to pre-load
- Continue to eat very clean
- Be full 12 hours before race start
- If still hungry late I have a banana
- Lay out race gear and nutrition (use a checklist)
- If traveling do a sweep of house before leaving one last time. I once packed my transition bag but left the bag in my house. So now I do one last sweep of my home after I think everything is loaded to go.
These are considerations so certainly suit to your needs and where you need assistance consult with a coach. As always continue to learn, learn from mistakes, learn from each other and get better for the next go.
– Add Health to Your Life