It was long. Very long. 2 x 4months of preparation for two 10km races. The first was the Urban Trail de Cannes in January, where I finished with a hard victory, completely exhausting myself. I took a week off afterwards. I mean off, you know how it is. I got onto my bike. I used my heart rate to guide me and was running 3 days afterwards. But running easy ! The next one is this weekend at the Trail de Hermes, April 7th, what will be a race totally different in nature. Hard, technical, with rolling hills, sharp climbs, flat sections, fast running, slow shuffling, everything. Still 10km. I feel like all my muscles, limbs, nerves are jiggling. It is only Thursday, but I am very excited about this one too. I felt non of this since the latest A race. It is normal and I tell you why.
This is crucial. I mean extremely crucial ! It is about being in the most perfect shape, the most ready, the most excited, the fittest, the freshest, the healthiest, the springiest, the fastest, the strongest, the lightest … for race day.
I plan out race week always very well. However it is most often completely out of whack and different from the initial plans. However there are three extremely important aspects I never change: Sleep well every day / Loads of mobility every day / hydrate as a master every day.
Sleep in, get naps, get breathing practice, no-tv, just reading, chill-out music, no-rush. Very often recovery is about the adrenals, about the lymphatic system, about the nervous system.
As I am going through the book : “The quest for the 4minute mile” of Bob Philips, we can read that old-time fast runners were not concerned too much about consistency and mileage, but about keeping their steel ! Their willpower and aggression and their testosterone level high as F !
Also usually it comes down to approach and lifestyle. I don’t care that I slept in and have no time to do a final 6 x 800 sharpening workout. I just have my coffee tranquil, read running news, do some mobility and get on with the day. If I arrive to 4pm and have time for a run, I definitely warm up very properly and surely wait till I force out the first drips of sweat, before I do anything. Then when the WuP is done, I decide to do what I feel right. For instance 4 days out on Thursday, I felt that the prescribed 6 x 400 @ 1:20/r1:00 is a bit off. I did not want to go for it. I went on to the track did 20minutes of warming up, ran 2 x 200 @ 38/r1:00 and said: well the 6 by 400 will be easy and did it on a ladder fashion. 1:22 1:20 1:19 1:18 1:17 1:16. I focused the most on long strides, high cadence, breathing, relaxation, forward lean, straight but natural arm swings. Guess what, the fastest I was running, the lowest heart rates I was getting. It was about getting economic and enjoying the float/flow ! The first 400 I was up to 168, the second 172 and then dropping 2 to 3 beats each repeats finishing with 163 HRMAX on the last one.
That is just so freckin’ important. In the morning I do my foam rolling and yoga slash pilates. All day long for 7days I get into some stretching positions, do squatting, deadlifts and calisthenics, some light kettlebell drills.
Most importantly I do my static stretching before bedtime. This is one of the most important aspects of the full day mobility. Why ? With this I make sure, that I carry nothing to the bed and when waking in the morning I am ready to roll. I might start out with some foam rolling and do my pose-holds afterwards. I don’t want to lie here, I practice these habits outside of race week too, cause I want to be ready to live, train and action any time of my life.
Honestly, I solved so many issues 10x more rapidly than usual with my habits, passion and patience. Soleus and upper calf stiffness, hamstring fatigue or upper quad inflammation. They go away in a matter of days. Why ? Cause I don’t focus on the problem itself. While I emphasise some local massage and mobility, I do not under-treat other areas.
I am very prone to cramps. Extremely prone ! During long races, 8 out of 10 times I used to have severe muscle spasm. I succeeded to have hydration induced cramps too, twice! This means that I did not have cramps only in the usual areas of inner thighs and calves, but in all muscles of my body. That means even eyes, face muscles, hands and all muscles of my body. Stretching out one area made cramps the other one. Salt was the issue and too much plain water.
Not anymore. Of course it is not only about hydration status, but together the rest and recovery actions I take, however without hydration it would not be possible.
I need salt, a lot. In the mornings I drink a special solution of 6dl of water with magnesium chloride, pink salt and some bicarbonate of soda. I salt my food and also drink 1 bottle of special mineral water, that helps fill my body with minerals. I make sure, that I drink enough plain water too. I also drink tea, coffee and herbal infusions. What I want is an ideal status. I follow my body’s needs. In the morning and afternoon I often eat quite fatty. This habit, sheds salt ! In the evening I eat carbs and this fills up my stores glycogen, but with 1g of sugar, 3g of water is stored too. That means salt as well.
I try using creatine too. 5g a day. During race week, I decrease this to 2 to 3g a day. I must make sure that it is timed well, as If I took 5g of creatine on empty stomach, intermittent fasting and drinking only plain water, I will cramp the hell up in the afternoon.
So yes, salt and water and the balance in-between the two is so crucial in my case, that I really ensure to be the best at it. I of course, do not necessarily rely on these supplemental habits. They are supplemental. I made a giant bean and sheep stew. Bean yeah, not the best choice couple of days before the race, unless you know how to prepare it. 48hours of soaking and pressure cooking. No farts or bloating !
So the 45minutes of pressure cooking totally breaks down bones to a state, that you can easily bite through them and chew on them like it was a creamy structure. I ate like 8 ribs and 4 big vertebrae yesterday. Bones and marrow are filled with minerals.
I don’t hesitate to drink the water left behind the boiled veggies of my wife. I also might get a shot of ginger/lemon/beetroot/apple juice here and there.