I see in my line of work athletes not giving long distance races the respect they deserve. Whether it is a marathon, big swim, long bike challenge or long distance triathlon, I see athletes suddenly panicking a couple of weeks before their race, because they have not done the training and then doing a long swim, bike or run without any build up to it. The stress and fatigue this places on the body is enormous and causes the body to take much longer to recover than it would if distance and volume had been progressed gradually. Then there is the risk of injury, especially with running, as due to it being weight bearing, it is so much harder on the body.
These long distance races should be done following a structured progressive training plan, building the distance up each week so the body can adapt gradually and recover quicker. These plans should also include recovery days/weeks and/or sessions as it is during the recovery that the body can adapt and get stronger. Oh and lets not forget ‘specific’, for example, if triathlon then brick sessions, these should include not just bike to run but also swim to bike and all 3 in a smaller distance ratio. These are great for practicing race day nutrition as this can make or break a race! Individual long distance races also need nutrition practice, think your long runs, swims, or bike (depending on your discipline race) to practice your nutrition strategy, as any race over 90mins needs glycogen replaced as our bodies can only store that amount of glycogen which is what we use for energy along with fats (they work together).
Your long distance sessions should be built up to as close to the distance of the race as you can (about 80%) to prepare your body with the strength and endurance it needs for race day. If only doing half the distance your body will not be prepared fully! Remember the saying ‘Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail!’
So let’s change that saying to ‘Prepare Well, Race Well’
Let’s get to that finish line thinking you prepared well, raced the best you could and gave it the respect it deserved!!