At this point I’ve started figuring out what works for me when training for these difficult events. Whether or not its an adventure race, a marathon, or an ultramarathon, I’ve figured out how to successfully handle the last two weeks of pre-race training.
This isn’t going to be about how runners taper (fancy word for “SLOWING DOWN” or “NOT RUNNING AS MUCH”). Instead these are a lot of mental tricks that help me through the most difficult part of the training plan- NUTRITION
Now nutrition is important throughout training and for the most part I eat pretty healthy, but as soon as I’m two or three weeks out I force my diet into rigid discipline mode. No sugar, no pizza, no breads, and (gasp) no beer. Lots of veggies, fruits, green smoothies and fish.
For me, I find that three weeks of strict diet is about all I can handle mentally. If I spent eight weeks eating an extremely nutritious diet I would never stay on the wagon and quite possibly lose my freakin MIND! But two weeks of salads, quinoa, beets, and omelets? Totally doable.
My other strategies are just little mental tricks that prepare me to deal with the dark times during the race- and don’t kid yourself there WILL be dark times in an endurance race. The times where your brain turns on you and negative thoughts rush over you. “YOU’RE TIRED. YOUR LEG IS CRAMPING. TODAY’S JUST NOT YOUR DAY. YOU COULD JUST DROP OUT AT THE NEXT AID STATION.” All those terrible tempting ideas.
To combat those I apply the following strategies:
- Don’t eat or drink anything you actually enjoy for two to three weeks leading up to the race.
- Tell yourself that if you actually finish you will eat nothing but that food!!
For me it’s pizza and beer. That way during those low moments I can add this thought “DUDE YOU GAVE UP PIZZA FOR THIS! PIZZA…THE HOLIEST OF ALL FOOD. YOU CANNOT QUIT NOW. FINISH IT! FINISH IT FOR PIZZA!”
It might seem silly but this is a huge motivator for me!
I can promise you that when you finally reward yourself post-event, the pizza and beer will be sublime. You will NEVER have had pizza or beer that has tasted as good as it does after tough race.
Hope this helps you in your training. Don’t have an event you are training for? Just find one and sign up! Put something on the calendar that will challenge you and give you a reason to get in shape. If not for your health, do it for the pizza!