Tag Archives: running tips

Taper Week – Dos and Don’ts

Some say taper week brings out the worst in runners. They get grumpy, agitated, angry and frustrated because they are required to cut down on mileage (which means running a lot less than usual).

I don’t know where they come from but TAPER WEEK IS THE BEST!

Less running and more food, what’s not to like? I’ve been waiting for this week to come, since the beginning of training. It feels like a tonne of weight has been lifted off my shoulders.FullSizeRender

Taper week/s is just as important as your other heavy training weeks. Do it wrongly and you risk performing well on race day.

Want to do it right? Here are the dos and don’ts:

Dos

1. Get Enough Sleep!

These days, sleep is considered luxury! We’d be lucky to get in at least 7 hours of good sleep. But to perform at your best, the body needs rest!

As you’ll most probably be too jittery to fall asleep the night before race day, sleep and rest 4-5 days before is crucial!

Aim for some consistency in terms of bed time and sleeping hours.

2. Massage and Foam Rolling

Go for a nice body massage during taper week. This will help loosen up your muscles. It will also relieve your mind of any pre-race STRESS!IMG_4970

Aim to foam roll and stretch every other day to release any tension and tight knots in your muscles. I like to stretch before bed time because it helps me to sleep better!

3. Eat Enough

For most of us, we fear the weight gain by eating the same amount (If not more) and decreasing mileage.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Just eat as you normally would. Eating the same amount but not running as much will help you fill glycogen stores that have been depleted during training.

Remember not to go to either extremes of eating too much or too little. Both will have an impact on your performance.

4. Carbo Load

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Do carbo load 3 days before race day. You can read more about it here.

5. Keep Your Body and Legs Fresh

It is a fine balance between doing too much and too little during the final week of taper. You don’t want to be doing too much that your body cannot recover and you don’t want to be doing too little that your legs feel stiff.

IMG_6835During the final week, do one short speed session and go easy the rest of the days. You can do a combination of strides, 100s, 200s and 400s. Keep reps to a minimum if you do them at max pace but you can do a little more if you’re going at interval pace. This should get your heart racing, blood flowing and legs feeling fresh.

You should feel strong after the session and not drained. Everyone is different so see what works best for you!

6. Stick to Your Routine

The final week is not the time to introduce anything new. Try not to eat anything new even though it may be seemingly healthy. You never know how your stomach or body might react.

Just stick with what you know and what you normally do.


 

Don’ts

1. No Last Minute Cramming

Unlike when you’re sitting for an exam, last minute cramming WILL NOT WORK!

During taper week, less is always more. Now is not the time to put in last minute lost mileage during training or any sort of key workouts. These will put you at risk for injury and fatigued muscles before race day. Weekly mileage is recommended to be reduced to at least 40% of your usual training week.

IMG_6350

It does require some effort but try to decrease overall volume and duration while maintaining intensity. For example, you can use the same effort for your 200m repeats but instead of doing 10 reps, do 5.

A key thing to remember is that any physiological adaptations require at least 4-6 weeks. Last minute training is not going to improve your performance. In fact, it will probably do more harm than good!

2. No Unnecessary Activities

This is not the time to be trying a new sport or workout. Anything from hiking to a spin class is out of the question. Do those AFTER the race.

At this point, you want to be well rested. Reducing overall stress on your body will help your body to function optimally. This includes keeping hormone levels in check which are responsible for many physiological activities in the body including sleep!

3. Don’t Overanalyse

During the final days, you want everything to be perfect! From the food you eat to the amount of sleep that you get. It can be pretty stressful!

FullSizeRender(1)Just relax. What is supposed to be done has already been done. No amount of worrying is going to get you to run any faster.

Even after putting in all the hard work, you cannot predict what happens on race day. A good performance is never guaranteed to anyone. Just smile and be happy that you’ve managed to put in all the crazy amount of running that is required of marathon training.

Have some confidence by knowing that you have given yourself the best possible chance of achieving your race day goals.


Tapering is serious business. It allows your body to rest and recover from the gruelling hours of training that you’ve put it through. Bodily functions from muscle glycogen stores, hormones, enzymes, the immune system and anything that have gone out of whack during training will return to optimal conditions. Any micro tears in your muscles or connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) will also have a chance to repair and strengthen.

Tapering prepares your body for peak performance on race day. So, TAPER AWAY!

All the best!

5 Things To Do One Day Before a Race

It really is an encouragement when your friends tell you that they read your blog (People are actually reading my blog! *SQUEALS*) and even push you to update frequently. Said “friends” that I’m referring to here are Swan and Gillian. They deserve to be credited because they gave me inspiration for this post. We were talking about this, among other deep and insightful things, over dinner yesterday. They had so many brilliant ideas/suggestions on what I could do with/write on my blog.

I gave it some thought and since I was running a race the next day (which is today, 23 Feb 2014), I thought I’d make a short list of what to do one day before race day.

This is a list of the 5 things that I do to prepare for a race. It is a pretty generalized list so I hope that you can benefit from it too.

  1. Chill Out

When I say chill out, I really mean CHILL OUT. Sit back, relax, kick your feet up and give them all the love and care they need before the big day. This is the best day to catch up on your favourite TV series or that book that you’ve been wanting to read.

 

I like to go for soothing massages, coffee dates or laze in bed till late afternoon. I try to get as much rest as possible. I would try to save shopping sprees and the running of errands till after the race. Yes, shopping is considered a WORKOUT. In fact, it is a FULL body workout. Carrying shopping bags/clothes, changing from one outfit to the other, walking around, sifting through racks of clothes to find the perfect piece, hunting for bargains……Phew.

So, if I were you, I’d handle the ‘needs’ first and save the ‘wants’ for later. If you are used to putting in a light workout before the big race, you can go for a swim or do some yoga, as long as it is not too vigorous.

2. Eat Well

Eat a well-balanced meal containing carbohydrates (mainly), some proteins and fats. It is as simple as that. If you are planning to carbo-load, do so wisely. Carbo-loading is beneficial if you’re aiming to achieve endurance. However, carbo-loading does not simply mean chowing down on any food that is high in carbohydrates.

There are many forms of carbohydrates. Load up on good and complex carbohydrates. Go for sweet potatoes (my personal favourite), brown rice and wholegrain bread/pasta. These are slow digesting carbohydrates, providing your body the long term fuel that it needs to finish the race. Carbo-loading should be done 2 days before the race as you cannot fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal.

 

good-carb-bad-carb

 

Avoid foods that are particularly high in fiber, foods that cause bloating or flatulence, spicy foods, dairy products or any other foods that may cause discomfort/irritation. The last thing you want is to feel “heavy” and “bloated” on race day. Constipation is usually unknown to runners. With all that running, your bowels tend to be more “active”. By staying away from those aforementioned foods, you are also able to avoid runner’s trots.

PIE

Favourite pre-race dinner.

A few years ago when I participated in my first night run, I used it as an excuse to carbo-load. I ate half a tin of butter cake, rice with curry and 3 scoops of ice cream 4 hours before the race. I still made it into the top 20 but it was one of the most uncomfortable races EVER.

It is also good to incorporate some proteins in your diet the day before the race. The proteins that you consume would be used to repair damaged muscles more effectively. Eat a light, satisfying meal. DO NOT stuff your face. Bear in mind that you are not consuming MORE calories per day that the usual – it’s just that more of those calories are coming from carbohydrates.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Complex carbohydrates + Protein + Healthy Fats – CHECKED!

3. Pack your Bag, Race Kit, Race Gear

Experience tells me that I have to pack my bag the night before a race. I used to do it on race morning, scrambling and fumbling around trying to stuff everything I need into my backpack. I either end up being late for the race or end up forgetting something ie: my watch or my hairband. Sometimes, it is not the “thing” that matters but the thought of having it that gives you the security.

When you’re nervous and filled with anxiety, the last thing you need is the thought of not having something that you usually run with (watch, iPod etc). On race day, it is your mental strength that matters. A small detour from your ritual/routine could throw you into paranoia.

1904207_10152296569611388_1177090398_n

PUMA PUMA PUMA!

1014261_10151825518171388_282383284_n

Most runs are held on Sunday mornings. As I have church commitments, I have to pack an extra set of clothes for service. Sorry for the really bad picture quality. I am hoping to get my camera back, ASAP.

4. Prepare your Pre-race Meal

Try to prepare your pre-race meal the night before. This would give you some peace of mind and avoid race day mayhem in the kitchen. I had my fair share of race morning craziness – dropping eggs, spilling water and smashing bowls to the ground just to name a few.

Always be prepared. Whatever you choose to eat for breakfast, make sure that it has been tried and tested. This is not the time to be consuming something that you’ve never had before a race. Have something that is easy to digest and high in carbohydrates. This would ensure that you have enough energy to pull through. Some runners have their morning coffee rituals. If you must have coffee, take in as little as possible. This would allow you to avoid extra potty trips during the race. Drink a glass of water one hour before the race so that you’ll be well hydrated at the starting line.

1505126_10152194370871388_304008556_n

I used to go to runs on an empty stomach. But I have learned that it is always better to have breakfast! My usual breakfast would be all-natural peanut butter on wholegrain bread topped with banana and chia seeds. Yum! The perfect balance of carbs, proteins and fats. This would be more than enough to give you that extra kick.

1800273_10152296569131388_1033661099_n

Most fruits are high in carbs as well as fiber – which may cause stomach discomforts/bloating during the race. Bananas and apples are my go-to, low-fiber choice!

1450981_10152112578321388_1805094030_n

I’m pretty fussy when it comes to my post-run meals. I usually pack my own snacks to munch on after the race.

1653811_10152296569366388_1812324978_n

Whenever I can, I would pack cold coconut water into my flask to enjoy after the race! Great way to rehydrate and replace lost electrolytes. YUM!

5. GO TO BED…..EARLY!

Ah! Guilty! I am usually filled with mix feelings of excitement, anxiety and nervousness. On a good day, I would be able to get a maximum of 7 hours of sleep the night before. But that is considered a luxury. I would normally only get about 2 hours of TROUBLED sleep. Meaning, I would be waking up every few minutes with my heart thumping, almost bursting out of my chest. It is the adrenaline rush on race morning that really gets me going. So thank your body for producing such amazing chemicals.

sleep

Sleep is good both mentally and physically. The lack of it can have a serious impact on your performance on race day. Relax, take deep breaths and hold it for 5 seconds before taking the next, clear your mind and you will eventually slip into dreamland (I hope!).

In related news:

1780693_10152296569771388_1296713471_n

I managed my first sub-50 for 10KM (9.5-9.6KM to be exact) at the ICE charity run 2014. My Personal Best.

Although I was being pushed around by other runners at the start of the race, I came in at number 6. Two uncles congratulated me at the end of the race. They said that I had a really good pace. This is not the first time that random runners have come up to me to either compliment or congratulate me. I am very grateful for all their kind words.

Sometimes, it is these comments that keeps you going. What a great way to start the week. Loads of support and encouragement from the running gang too. So much love.

In other news:

Gillian and Swan threw me a mini be-early surprise birthday dinner with cupcakes! <3 They are awesome like that. Don’t know what I did to deserve them.

Guys, I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being so supportive. You have no idea how much this means to me and your sincerity is what I need. Words simply cannot express how I feel.

1962606_10152296570321388_2003911365_n

CUTE-ness OVERLOAD!

Quote of the day:

“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life.” – Haruki Murakami

Continue to push yourself. Never settle for less because you are capable of so much more. You will never discover what you can do by remaining in your comfort zone. Have the courage to go above and beyond your limits! Have a great week ahead!

OK, I really should get some sleep now.