Steaming forward right on into June already….it’s time for Coach Tip Tuesday!!
I’ve talked a lot about tapering over the years, but I realized that I haven’t ever talked specifically about the day before your goal race. Since this weekend kicks off the local triathlon season here in Upstate New York, I figured this was as good of a time as any to talk about this. :)
A lot of athletes think that they shouldn’t do anything the day before a race. This is both true and false. For many, many years, I existed in this mentality. My first coach, Karen Allen-Turner, used to try and talk me into doing a short workout the day before a race, and I would always opt out, thinking I knew better than my coach. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.) Now, when my current coach Mark Turner puts those same types of workouts on my schedule, you better believe I complete them.
The purpose of a taper phase in your training is to stimulate gains in your performance so you are primed and ready to race your best on the day of your goal event. You CANNOT (I repeat, CANNOT) make any significant gains in your athletic ability in the 7-10 days before your goal race. As I often say, the hay is in the barn by then. This means that what you CAN do is get what fitness you do have sharpened so you can do your very best in your race.
In my experience as a coach, I’ve found that athletes tend to perform best with the following recipe: a rest day two days out from the goal event, and a short workout with some mindful incorporations of intensity on the day before race day (ideally completed at least 20-24 hours before the start time of the race). Yep, that’s right. Resting two days out, and still doing a workout the day before.
Why follow this formula?? Well, I’ve found that getting the body moving a bit the day before race day gets it ready to really MOVE on race day. And isn’t that what we’re all really after?? Outside of this type of planned workout, I do recommend staying off of your feet as much as possible on the day before a goal event, as you don’t want to impose too much fatigue; that could lead to a less-than-desirable performance. Stretching, yoga, or some other calming activities are great choices on this day to keep the mind peaceful and the body limber without imposing too much stress.
So as you prepare for your goal races this season, I challenge you to learn from my mistakes. Don’t shy away from all movement the day before your races. You should still do SOMETHING. Just make sure it’s short and keep your intensity bursts to just that - bursts. And then go rock your race. :)