Since the word taper makes eyes roll, runners grumble, and significant others live in fear, Greg McMillan has developed a concept that throws "tapering" out of a runner’s vocabulary and replaces it with the word with "peaking." Semantics? Maybe. But, these last few days of your training cycle before the big day can be nerve-wracking and can often lead you to stray from your normal path. Don't let the word taper cloud your training schedule. Here’s how to stay on the straight and narrow using McMillan’s peaking concept.
Try to keep the same weekly running routine throughout the next few weeks. Your body and your mind like routine. If you have been running four days per week over the course of the last 12-18 weeks, then run four days per week. You'll feel flat if you suddenly run less frequently than normal. Simply reduce the volume per day to stay fresh and nimble for Sunday, April 7th.
What about volume and intensity? Stick to the schedule. Even though you have dropped your overall running volume, don’t make the common mistake of dropping your volume or intensity too much. Doing so also takes your body out of its normal routine and can leave you stale on race day. So, if the schedule reads ‘’tempo” (and you have been doing your weekly “tempo” runs), keep it. Keeping your engine revved up is a good thing.
The last item of business is to pay attention to the space between your ears. Don't let your confidence dwindle with your training volume. You managed to gut through even the toughest training this winter. That shows that you can do it! You can handle the ups and downs of racing and get to the finish line. There is no real pressure, so quit piling so much of it on yourself. You run for fun, you run for personal confidence, and you run for yourself.
By having a positive, happy mindset that is focused on doing your best combined with a well-trained body that is rested but revved and fueled and hydrated you will race your best. Good luck on April 7th!