This served two purposes. The first is to prevent you from going completely all out and taking the top off your energy reserves for the race. The second is that it patterns into your body the ability to go fast but to still stay relaxed. This uses up significantly less energy over the long haul than it does to go fast and remain tense.
For the run, the perfect sharpening workout consists of 1-1.5 miles on the track (preceded by a warm-up and followed by a cool-down) where you accelerate to near top speed during the straights and then float at an easy pace through the curves.
Again, this activates all the energy systems but is about as low of a stress on the body that a fast workout can be. And since you are only running the straights fast, there is little chance you will try to sneak in one more 400 PR.
4. The Last Three Days
These are the most important days leading up to your race. Three days out, complete a swim, bike and run workout with each sport done basically one right after the other. Do the workout in the morning and have the total workout length last between two to three hours.
This is going to help deplete your glycogen reserves a bit, after which it will be time to fuel up for the race. It takes roughly 72 hours to replenish all your glycogen as well as to hydrate (covered in the next tip).
Two days out from your race is the time for total rest: no workouts, and get as much sleep as you can. Go to bed early and sleep in. The rest you get the night prior to your race will have very little influence one way or the other on your performance, but the night two days prior can have a significant impact, so stock up.
Then the day before your race, do a very short swim, bike and run workout with about 500m of swimming, 30 minutes easy on the bike and another 10 to 15 minutes jogging. You can do some accelerations up to race pace that last a total of about five to 10 seconds—nothing strenuous.
5. Eating and Drinking
Three days out is the time to start loading up for your race. Humans are not like camels. We cannot absorb big volumes of liquids. We need to stock up over time, sipping as we go. Sports drinks work well in addition to water to give you both calories and fluids.
Food is the same. Lots of snacking and smaller meals is the best way to approach your meals in the final three days. Big portions will slow your body down and cause insulin to be released, which will turn off your fat-burning aerobic engine.
The same amount of calories spread out over a day will not have the negative effects of a big binge. You can skew your calories slightly more toward carbohydrates, but don't forsake good oils and protein. You will need some of these as well to race at your peak.
6. Race-Day Secrets
Ah, just what you've been waiting for.
- The first tip: Realize that no race will ever go as planned. Have this be part of your race strategy, and be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
- Second tip: You don't have to feel great during the race to have the race of your life. In fact, you could feel bad the entire day and still come up with the race of your dreams. Any negative effect that feeling bad might have on your race will be accentuated by placing importance on having to feel good to race well.
- Third tip: Eating, drinking and pace are the three most important variables that you can work with to maximize your body's ability to keep going. Reach for those first if you are feeling like you need something extra or that your energy is dipping. Eat a little to get energy, drink a little to make sure you are hydrated and slow your pace down just about a half a percent so you relax for a moment and see if this brings things around.
- Fourth tip: The most important element overall is going to be your attitude. With a positive attitude miracles can occur. With a negative one, disaster is certain. The catch is that in the midst of going as fast as you can and having your body going into full mutiny over it, a positive attitude can be just about impossible to conjure up.
Solution? Think no thoughts. Yes, stop that brain of yours from getting in the way of what you are trained to do. Have no thought. Have you practiced it? Can you do it under pressure? This simple skill will help take you past impossible moments when your logical brain is telling you your goal is way out of reach. It keeps you on track when thoughts would derail your efforts. Simple yet powerful.
There you go. Now you are ready to have the race of your life. Enjoy!