This article is the third in our Bath Half Marathon series helping you turn up to the Bath Half ready to race. After ramping up your training in the last few weeks and using the great training tips and optimal recovery strategies we suggested in our previous posts, you’ll be ready for the Bath Half…
… Well, not quite. If you have been training hard it’s a good idea to have a de-load week before the big event!
Athletes always make sure they “peak” for competition by reducing the volume of training, so that they’re not carrying any fatigue into the race. Intensity however, is kept high and close to race pace, so that the fitness improvements their body has are maintained. By reducing volume while maintaining their intensity during a deload week, athletes are able to be 100% for their event or competition.
What does a Deload Week Look like?
Like I mentioned before, you want to keep the intensity high, but reduce the volume. This means running at race pace (or slightly faster) but running less miles during your de-load week. In the week leading up to Bath Half, try to complete 2-3 steady runs at race pace, or slightly faster. The runs will be 3-4 miles (definitely no longer) with no fancy intervals or hill training. We want to minimise the possibility of muscle damage or injury so full on sprints and uneven terrain training are out of the question during your de-load week.
Try to do your final run two days before the bath half and have an ‘active recovery’ day just before the race. This means a 30 minute walk or 20 minute bike ride, as well as foam rolling and stretching to keep your muscles supple and ready for action.
One of the biggest pieces of advice you’ll get in regards to race day nutrition is to “carb load” (i.e. do lots of running and eat lots of carbs to fill up your muscles’ energy stores). However, in my experience, this only leaves you feeling sluggish and slow because for every bit of carbs your muscles store (as glycogen), they stores three times as much water with it, meaning you can be carrying an extra 2-3kg going into your race. Running with a 3kg vest wouldn’t help your Bath Half time and neither will carb loading.
A smarter approach would be to slowly increase your fat intake (while maintaining your daily calories) 2-3 weeks running up to the race. Your body will slowly get better at metabolising fat to use as energy, which is important as it’s the number one source of energy during a half marathon. You’ll get more efficient at using your fat stores as energy, saving your stored carbohydrate for later in the race making it less likely for you to hit the dreaded “wall” (this is called glycogen-sparing).
It’s also important to up your protein intake to keep your muscles in tip top shape. They have been taking a lot of damage during training, and you don’t want to go into a race inadequately recovered. Extra protein in your diet will help your muscles repair before the big day.
We’ve got one last blog up our sleeve to help you in your final Bath Half preparations. In the next article we’ll give you tips on how to prepare on race day to get you into the groove nice and early, so stay tuned!
Malachi Dingis is a former sprinter, Sports Science graduate and family man with two little girls. He joined the Health coaching team in September 2016 and by applying the most important health principles in simple, mindful ways, he has been helping people achieve dramatic health and fitness transformations for over 5 years. More..