You Can Do 26.2—Part IV
Congratulations! If you have completed Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 of my 14-Week Marathon Training Program, you’ve worked very hard and inevitably pushed yourself to a new level of fitness. Your
hardest training days are behind you, so stay confident in the work you have put forth and be proud of what you have already accomplished. The final weeks of the Program (Phase 4) are critical to a healthy and successful race, but at this point you should be really starting to enjoy the process and preparing yourself for a special experience!
Reducing Long-Term Fatigue
In order to reach your full potential on race day, you must start the marathon feeling very fit and very fresh! This requires tapering off your effort close to the race date. The key to a good “taper” is to reduce the long term fatigue you’ve accumulated throughout months of hard training, while retaining the exceptional fitness you’ve worked so hard to obtain. The most effective way to reduce this fatigue is to simply rest. You must take your rest days seriously and resist the urge to do any “extra” training. It’s important to stay off your feet as much as possible and make sure you’re getting an adequate amount of sleep.
While rest should be the primary focus of your taper, it’s important to remember that you must maintain your hard earned fitness. The most effective way to do this is to shorten the duration of your workouts while keeping race-specific intensity. Your Race Pace workouts need to be at your projected race pace. Completing these workouts at too high or too low a level of intensity could have a negative impact on your race.
As the race approaches, most athletes think that they need to be doing something “special” in order to prepare themselves to race. This could not be further from the truth. One of the keys to racing well is to alleviate as much stress as possible prior to the race in order to feel your best on the starting line and throughout your race. Introducing new things—such as carbo-loading or throwing in one last workout to “test” yourself—are detrimental to your preparation and far more likely to have a negative impact on your race than additional benefit. Keep it simple by eating the types of foods you’ve been eating throughout your training and sticking to the scheduled workouts.
All world records in distance running have been set by an even or negative split, meaning that the first half of the race is run at an almost identical pace as the second half. In order to arrive at the finish line in the shortest amount of time, you must start at a conservative pace that should not exceed your projected race pace. Resist running faster even if you’re feeling great. It’s far better to start out a bit slower and finish strong than to go out too hard and fall apart in the final miles. Remember to race intelligently and stick to your hydration and nutrition plan that was outlined in Part 2.
Types of Workouts During the Peak or Taper Phase
Pace Runs – As described in detail in Part 2, the Pace Run is the projected average pace at which you will run the marathon.
Easy Runs – As described in detail in Part 1, Easy Runs are similar to long runs however they are much shorter in duration. It is imperative that these runs remain easy during your taper. Running too fast during your easy days is likely to have a negative impact on your race.
Rest – As described in detail in Part 1, rest is extremely important during the final two weeks of training. Taking a complete rest day two days before race day and doing a short workout the day before the race will activate your muscles and your brain, leaving you primed and ready to run!
Tempo Runs – As described in detail in Part 2, a tempo run should always begin with a warm-up that includes 15 minutes of Easy Running. The “Tempo” part of the run should be completed at 15-to-45 seconds per mile faster than your projected race pace (PRE 7-8). Finish every tempo run with 10 minutes of easy running.
Mike Riley, the most famed announcer in Ironman, commonly states, “You’ve put in the training and all the hard work to get to this point. Remember, the only thing you can control out there today is your attitude.” While it’s perfectly normal to be nervous on race morning, it’s important to remember that all the training and preparation was the hard part. The race should be fun and where you get to reap the benefits from your months of work. I’ll leave you with one final thought. The following is my personal race mantra that I repeated to myself throughout the day when I recently raced in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships on October 14, 2012.
Approach the day with PATIENCE;
Remain FOCUSED at the task at hand;
Race with INTELLIGENCE first and EMOTION second;
Dig DEEPER than you are tall;
SUFFER more than you thought humanly possible;
And remember to SMILE and soak in the day!
(Editor’s Note: If the Santa Barbara International Marathon has passed you by, but the will to try remains, go back to the start with Part I,
Part II, and
Part III of Coach Kyle’s series of articles.)
A USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Coach, Kyle Visin specializes in coaching runners and triathletes in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. He is the co-founder of Killer Tri, an innovative triathlon training and development program that integrates hands-on instruction to maximize measurable results. Kyle recently competed in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships where he was placed 2nd in his division, the 10th overall armature and 2nd American to cross the line. His Personal Best for the marathon portion of an Ironman triathlon is 3:02:49. A graduate of UCSB, he works as a mechanical engineer at Asylum Research in Goleta when not racing or coaching, and lives with his wife in Santa Barbara.
An elite competitor himself, Kyle heads to Kailua Kona this October to compete in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. His Personal Best for the marathon portion of an Ironman triathlon is 3:02:49. A graduate of UCSB, he works as a mechanical engineer at Asylum Research in Goleta when not racing or coaching, and lives with his wife in Santa Barbara.