Training during the competition phase, or in the weeks before the race, is a special challenge for runners. It is important to optimise your physical fitness and mental strength in order to be able to reach your full potential on Day X. In this article we will give you some concrete tips for training during the competition period.
Start simulating competition conditions
Specific training is important to be optimally prepared on race day. Besides getting the body used to the planned race distance (start with the specific preparation phase 2-6 months before the race), other factors are also important. For example, altitude should be integrated into the training for a mountain run (running.COACH automatically plans this into the preparation). In addition, it also makes sense to spend training time on relevant surfaces (asphalt, natural path, trails, …) – only in this way will the most important muscles really be optimally attuned to the upcoming challenge.
Avoid trying to make up for missed workouts
As a general rule, don’t try to make up for missed workouts in the last few weeks before the main race. This applies not least to very long and/or very intense sessions: the basic work is done and it makes more sense to stick to the previously determined plan than to squeeze additional – previously missed – long or intense workouts into the plan.
During the competition period, it is important to allow sufficient time for recovery and recuperation to avoid injury and ensure that the body is ready to perform at its best on race day. In this phase, a prolonged training absence can be difficult to compensate for due to the scarce number of training days remaining – so prioritising recovery is a pretty sensible ‘investment’.
Try to prepare yourself not only physically but also mentally for the challenge ahead. A good tool for this can be visualisation, which consists of constructing an internal mental image. This helps, for example, to improve the physical execution of movements or to play out how to deal with possible difficulties in advance and thus improve athletic performance.
The worst-case scenario after a long preparation phase is to stand at the starting line on day X with heavy legs. So-called “tapering” in the last weeks before the race can ensure a good balance between recovery and exertion and minimise the risk of tired legs on race day. In concrete terms, this means that the amount of training is significantly reduced in the period shortly before the race in order to be able to stand at the start line with recovered muscles. During this time, for example, the amount of aerobic enzymes (and thus aerobic capacity) and muscle glycogen increases.