With many of you putting the final touches on preparations for a great race in Kona, I thought I’d share the top 6 ways I approach the final week of training before a major race.
- Mental Prep
The most important mental change I’ve made recently is to never concern myself with how I “feel” the week before the race. I just relax and know that the race will happen when it happens. The best and only thing you can do is execute your taper week perfectly and be confident in your fitness.
One of the most important things in the last week is to make sure you’re rested and alert for race day. For most races, I’m traveling across a bunch of time zones which makes sleeping correctly difficult. Here’s what I focus on to get high quality sleep:
- Limiting Caffeine – this really helps me sleep more. I used to cut it out completely, but found that I couldn’t complete my taper workouts with sufficient intensity. I’ll just have a cup in the morning followed by my more intense taper session of the day.
- Naps: While jet lag makes it risky to take naps, I’ve moved away from a no nap policy. If you’re tired, sleep, but be sure to keep naps under an hour.
- Ear plugs/Eye Mask: I like to limit any potential disturbances while I sleep. These help.
- Bluelight phone filter: Bluelight has been shown to be more disruptive than caffeine to a sleep cycle. Download a bluelight filter if you’re in the habit of using your phone in bed.
All good taper weeks should have very focused intensity built in. All of my sessions have a warm-up, a short and intense main set with lots of recovery, and a cool down. Unless it’s to shake out (morning of the race or after a flight), I don’t waste time on ‘cruise’ activity.
Even though I want to carbo load, I also don’t want to line up for the race heavy. I definitely won’t lose weight, but I cater my eating to my limited training and overall needs. I eat my big/high carb meal two nights before the race so that my body has enough time to fully digest and ‘evacuate’ everything I’ve eaten.
Even though I’m not training as much, I spend even more time making sure my muscles feel good. Extra time with a rolling pin, stretching out my hip flexors, or time with a massage therapist become even more important in the final week. I also make sure to spend time with my feet elevated above my head in the final days. With the walking that’s usually involved in briefings, interviews, etc, I make sure to wear compression more frequently than normal. Sadly it’s not super stylish.
- Looking Fresh
Most importantly, I make sure everything I own looks fast for race day. This means Hawaiian shirts to get in the right mind set (hang loose, dude), obviously my lucky #Kestrel hat and nice pants. I usually stick with long pants so that I can cover up my super lame compression socks. And I make sure my bike looks good, so that any dirt or grime is gone and I’m excited to ride fast.
Oh yeah, I would also never be caught dead wearing my race kit before race day. In the words of fellow triathlon squad member Matt McElroy, that’s super Fred.
Once again, this was brought to you by Kestrel Bicycles! Thanks. Good luck to those of you racing in Kona and anyone preparing for an upcoming race.
Let me know if you have any questions:
email: gregory at gregorybillington dot com