Bala being the last day of my training block for IM Nice, my taper started the next day. I was extremely grateful for the 2 rest days that followed, however the turbo session on Wednesday morning and the training sessions that followed that week were not too enjoyable due to very heavy legs, but a hilly course will do that to you!
I have always found tapering to be a very strange period of time, my mind and body are so used to training intensively every day that doing small run, bike and swim sessions just feels unnatural, but I know the importance of this period and the benefits that it will provide on race day.
This period is designed to maintain the fitness that I have built up over the past 10 month, whilst not pushing me so hard that I get to race day feeling tired, I should be like a coiled spring on race morning that gets let go on the sound of the gun.
I had my final 1 hour no goal run on Saturday and 2 hour no goal bike session on Sunday, so basically just stretching out my legs, before entering into infamous race week…..
Race week can be a very nerve racking time, just before Bala middle distance I was feeling very nervous and almost doubting that I was ready for my first IM of the season, however, my performance on race day at Bala gave me a confidence boost and reinstated faith in my abilities.
My race week training consists of 1 small speed session on Tuesday followed by a 30 minute no goal run session on Wednesday before I fly out to Nice on the Thursday, for me the upmost importance during race week is ensuring that my nutrition and hydration are perfect, so no bad foods and plenty of water along with copious amounts of rest and sleep!
During the evening I even watch IM race videos on YouTube for some inspiration!
I do partake in carb loading during race week and in all of my previous races I have chosen to follow a plan whereby I reduce my carbohydrate intake to nearly zero 6 days prior to race day (from Monday for a Sunday race) and I do this for 3 days (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday), then from Thursday I start to consume high carbohydrate meals.
The science behind this process is that in the beginning of the week were I will still be training, my body will use up its glycogen stores due to my reduce carbohydrate intake, my body will almost be starved of glycogen, therefore when I start to consume carbohydrates later in the week, due to the body craving glycogen, it will store it more effectively to be used when I race. I have used this method in my 5 previous IM races and find it really does benefit.
I also cut out caffeine for the entire week, a very difficult task as I am a coffee addict; again the science behind cutting out caffeine is that I will benefit from the caffeine boost more on race day due to me not having any during the week, these are obviously the more extreme routines that I have and would say that should you want to try it, to do so in a training race first.
I anticipate having 3 days in Nice before race day to allow for acclimatisation, the last thing you really want to do is show up to a race abroad the day before, it’s nice to be able to know the surroundings and I can also use this time to suss out the course, race start location and take in a training swim on course along with lots of REST, HYDRATION, NUTRITION and SLEEP!
Although the above is my usual race week routine, this week has been different and somewhat stressful as I found out on Saturday that the French air traffic controllers were going to be on strike over my travel dates… in 2013 this strike resulted in all flights in and out of France being cancelled, therefore I spent all of Sunday researching alternative modes of travel, not looking forward to a 15 hour train journey I welcomed the happier news on Monday that Easyjet will only be cancelling around 25% of flights and there may be a chance that I will not be effected, although it is still not guaranteed, I suppose I will find out on Thursday if I am actually do IM Nice or not! :-S