If you’re running Hell Up North on 17 October, it’s important to approach the next two weeks strategically. Over the last few months, you will have built up your distance each week and worked hard to develop your strength, but now it’s time to control the level of training you’re doing, so that you’re on your best form for race day. Follow these tips to get your taper spot on.
After countless Sundays running distances of up to 12 miles, it can feel very restricting and frustrating spending your weekends resting. However, the importance of rest to give your body time to grow, repair and recover can’t be underestimated.
If you’re worried you’ve not put in enough miles in your training, sadly, cramming in an extra long run over the next two weekends will be futile, as it’s impossible to gain any additional fitness in this time. Hence, you’re better off sticking with some shorter runs to save yourself from injury, but keep your legs ticking over.
And if you have been sticking to your schedule, don’t worry about losing your fitness in this time. When you train over a long period of time, you gradually build up a level of fitness that won’t be lost as you decrease your training in the last few weeks.
- Maintain a minimum level of running
You’ll be pleased (or maybe not) to know that ‘rest’ doesn’t just mean spending every day with your feet up. Doing a certain degree of training is important to maintaining your current fitness level. Working out how much to do during your taper depends on the level of running you’ve been doing – the more miles you’ve done, the longer your taper. For someone that has been doing three runs per week, we’d recommend sticking to your usual training schedule in the penultimate week but, importantly, cutting your long down to no more than half the race distance. So for Hell Up North, don’t run any further than six and a half miles. In the final week, aim for two to three shorter runs of between 20-40 minutes. Throw some speed into the mix too with 5 x 200m reps at 10K or 5K pace to keep your legs feeling lively!
- Get to bed early
Try to get to bed that little bit earlier, aiming for seven to nine hours a night. It sounds simple, but sleep is particularly important for boosting your recovery and also maintaining a strong immune system. Growth hormones are secreted as you sleep, which are important to your muscle recovery and repair. The lower your levels, the slower your recovery. A lack of sleep likewise comprises our immune system’s ability to fight off illnesses, and given running can lower the body’s immune defences, sleep couldn’t be more important in the run up to race day.
- Eat well
Keep your immune system strong by adding an extra portion or two of vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables into your daily diet. In the final week, give slightly more emphasis to carbohydrates to top up your energy stores for the big race – particularly the evening before. For your pre-HellRunner meal, choose a meal high in carbohydrate to boost the body’s muscle glycogen stores and avoid foods high in fat and protein.
- Get ready!
Finalise your plan! To take the stress out of race day, get your HellRunner kit laid out the night before, get your number pinned on and the postcode (CW8 2JD) in your sat nav. Make sure you have your travel route planned the week before to ensure you get to the race on time! For travel details visit: http://hellrunner.co.uk/hellupnorth/