The first RunThroughUK Wimbledon Common Half Marathon, back in May, was my second race in 14 hours. I signed up the day before on the basis that, with an 10k evening race on the Saturday, chances were the last long run of my marathon training wouldn’t happen unless I’d already paid for it.
This time round, I’ve given myself a bit more time to prepare, having signed up an excessive 10 days in advance. I’ve never quite pulled off a taper – I’m usually injured or have been too disorganised – but this time I’m giving it a go. Sunday marks my 10th half marathon and, off the back of a 6 minute PB last month and a less-than-perfect few weeks of training, I’m not expecting to cover myself in glory. However, I’m running this one with some speedy friends so I do want to be able run well and feel good. Here’s what I’ll be doing:
- Eating right
The week before: A bowl of pasta the night before won’t cut it but carb-loading isn’t for the whole of the taper period either. Ron Hill’s books explain it very well in practical terms, but for a more succinct summary, check ou thttp://www.beyond-nutrition.co.uk/the-great-carbohydrate-loading-myth/. Essentially, carb-loading should begin 3-4 days before the race – prior to this, the fact you’re training less will help you load without eating extra – and you should aim for between 7-10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight.
On race day: There’s a lot out there on what to eat on race day to make sure you’re fuelled up properly (see the BBC and RunnersWorld for starters), but the best way to make sure nothing goes wrong on the big day is to practice in advance. Working out what you can and can’t eat before a run should be an important part of your training.
- Reducing volume, maintaining intensity
Ben Green (RunThroughUK Run Club coach and 2.35 marathon runner) advises reducing volume, by up to 50% in the build-up to a race but NOT reducing the intensity of your sessions. Keep up speed, but lose the miles for fresh, fit legs on the day. The Runners World Half Marathon FAQs advise that the half marathon taper last around 2 weeks, with the last long run taking place 2-3 weeks in advance. Sadly, I don’t have time to try this out this time round but as I write this with achey legs from a Sunday long run followed by Run Club Monday Intervals, I know I’ll be planning my long runs better next time!
- Preparing my mind
Even with a perfect training plan, a sensible carb-load and a course you love, you never know what’s going to happen once you cross the start line. As someone who likes to know what’s going to happen before it does (NB do not watch box sets with me), tapering does not a happy Jenn make.
I’ve learnt to set myself three race day goals ahead of time, so that I can picture in my head what’s likely to happen. My ‘A’ goal is for the best I could hope for, so, for Sunday, let’s say a PB. My ‘B’ goal is what should be achievable if I run well, so sub-1.54 and not finishing too far behind my friends. My ‘C’ goal, or my “I can live with that” goal, is to keep it under 2 hours and have a good time.
Thanks to speedy runners Matt, Ben and Ed for the tips.
Good luck Wimbledon Half-ers, I’ll see you on the course!