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Tapering/State Meet Preparation for Distance Runners
Transcript of Tapering/State Meet Preparation for Distance Runners
How much should I cut back?
What workouts should I do? Both studies and empirical evidence indicate that the optimal length of time to taper for a race 10,000m or less is about 10 days.
There is some benefit of a shorter taper (such as resting a few days before a big mid-season race), but the optimal length is around 10 days.
After 10 days, the taper benefits begin to decline, and fitness begins to be lost. But you can't have one without the other! Tapering/State Meet Preparation Brian Crumbo, Oldham County HS Reaching Sharp Peaks Preparation for success at regional and state needs to be both physical and mental. How Long should I Taper? How Much Should I Cut Back? Reduce training volume by 20-40% during your taper.* It takes a smaller reduction in volume than we think to produce the "fresh" feeling we seek. Reducing by more than this will usually result in heavy legs, lethargy, and possibly some loss of fitness by race day. You do NOT need to take the day before the race off. Most runners report feeling sluggish after a period of complete rest.
* Low-mileage runners may not need to taper volume at all. What Workouts Should I Do? Studies have clearly shown that the best approach to tapering is to reduce volume but not intensity. The implication is that you should continue pretty much what you have been doing, just do less of it.
You also need to continue to have a well-rounded program rather than concentrating on just a single system. This is the mistake we tend to make when we go exclusively to speed workouts at the end of the season. You need to continue to maintain your aerobic system as well.
Some workouts that I've found work well during the taper are... "Sharpeners" Otherwise known as hard straight/easy turns or sprint/floats, these are based on Arthur Lydiard's 50/50 workout.
2 x 1600m on the track, sprinting the straights and floating the turns. You don't want a jog on the turns. Tell runners to let their momentum slow gradually and "float" around the turn with long, relaxed strides (similar to tempo work).
We also precede this workout with 2400m of tempo running to support the aerobic system. "Shift Drill" 2 x 1600m with each lap having two 150m 3-stage efforts. Beginning in the middle of the turn with 50m at 70% effort, accelerating to 85% effort for the first 50m of the straight, then 100% the last 50m of the straight. Jog the 50m to the middle of the turn and repeat. A 1600m drill will contain 8 150m efforts. Concentrate on clearly defined changes in pace (shifting). They will work on their speed, but also changing gears at the end of the race.
We precede this by 2400m tempo to support the aerobic system. Split-800's 2 x (600-200 w/ 30 seconds rest), 12:00 b/t sets
This is an excellent race simulator, especially for those that will be doubling. It is also a good predictor workout. The total for the second set will be close to what an athlete can run for an 800m race. Mental Preparation All the physical preparation in world isn't going to matter if our athletes aren't mentally prepared for the race.
Don't believe the old adage that "running is 90% mental and 10% physical." Becoming a good runner is 100% physical, whether it's through talent, hard work, or both. We can all take a runner and make them better through simple training. So where does the mental part come in? Being good may be 100% physical, but the difference between being good and being a champion can be 100% mental! Confidence Is Key In high-level racing, especially at the high school level, the most important factor on race day that differentiates runners of similar physical abilities is confidence.
As a coach, you need to do everything you can to have a calm, confident runner step to the line on race day. So how do we coach confidence? There are two main time frames to look at:
1. Building confidence during the season.
2. Putting on the final touches. Building Confidence During the Season The last thing you want at the State Meet are a lot of unknowns. Uncertainty is the enemy of confidence. Therefore, it is imperative that you know your competition prior to the race.
Seek out and race your competition during the season.
For cross country, race on the target course at least once (or at least practice there if you can't get to a race).
Encourage your runners to study their competition and help them do it.
There is comfort in routines, so encourage your runners to form habits and routines that they do the same way for every race (warm-ups, pre-race meals, sleep, etc.) Final Touches Because you want your runners as comfortable and confident as possible, in the final stages of training, work on strengths and not weaknesses. A runners weaknesses should have been addressed long before the last few weeks of the season. At this point, you want to concentrate on whatever makes them the most confident, so work to their strengths.
Maintain their established routines as much as possible. The last few weeks before the race is not the time to try something new. Stick with what's comfortable. Race Day On race day itself, you want as little disruption to routine and uncertainty as possible. As coach, make sure you find out ahead of time exactly how the logistics of the meet will work and then make sure your athletes have all the information. Meet day is hectic. Make sure they know exactly where they need to be and when, what time they need to eat, when to warm-up, what to do before and after the race, etc. Again, try to make as few modifications to the normal routine as possible.
Finally, let them know that they don't need to be anything but themselves on race day. By now, they know their competition, and there should be no surprises. They simply need to execute their plan. Final Tip: Get Personal Your runners need to know that you believe in them, so... TELL THEM! Are We Preparing Properly for "When It Counts?" At the 2012 Kentucky State Track Meet, only 111 of 432 competitors (26%) in the 800, 1600, and 3200 races ran a seasonal best. Are We Preparing Properly for "When It Counts?" In 2012, of the top 100 performers in the 800, 1600, and 3200, only 26%* ran their season-best at the regional or state meet.
* 465 of 1800 total performances: 100 each in AAA, AA, A; boys and girls; in 3 events. Contributing Factors Why is only 1 in 4 of our runners performing their season-best at the regional and state meets?
More fast regular-season races (Eastern Relays, Dream Mile, out-of-state meets).
The regional and state are more about racing for place and less about running fast.
Not significant gains to be made from tapering?
Lack of proper preparation and/or tapering. Are We Preparing Properly for "When It Counts?" During the 2012 cross country season, there were three meets on the state meet course: Franklin County Invitational (9/22), Lexington Catholic Invitational (10/20), and the State Meet (11/10).
Boys running in both meets:
Improved 28 seconds from FC to LexCath
Improved 18 seconds from FC to State
Declined 16 seconds from LexCath to State
Girls running in both meets:
Improved 52 seconds from FC to LexCath
Improved 26 seconds from FC to State
Declined 24 seconds from LexCath to State