Charles Atkinson, a legendary boxing coach who has coached multiple world champions in professional boxing, coached Mary Kom to an Olympic medal in London 2012. He told me once that training will get a fighter (he hates calling boxing a sport and boxers athletes) to 95% of their potential. The last 5 percent is achieved by holding the fighter back.
Since the fighter is very fit and can take high intensity training easily, it is tempting to get in some extra sessions to eke out a better performance. However holding them back and reducing training in the last couple of weeks does 2 things – one, the fighter recovers fully and is topped up on energy. Two, it causes him to get a bit angsty since he can feel he can do more and is being stopped by the coach. If done right, on the day of the fight the fighter is at a 100% and raring to explode.
Just like a fighter preparing for a big boxing fight, a runner preparing for a long run, begins training months before the day. When runners start preparing, they usually have trouble hitting their stride and running as they would like to. At the time, getting used to running regularly, being disciplined and committed is priority. Physically they are not as strong and physiologically, the muscles don’t have the required systems in place to produce the energy required to power the run.
With training, the muscles get used to the wear and tear of running by improving their turnover or repair rate and blood supply. The energy systems also fall in line and provide all the energy needed. Now, somewhere around 3 months from the start of training, avoiding injuries and watching recovery become crucial factors.
With 4-5 weeks left for the race, the runners are usually peaking in terms of physical fitness and looking to get their final long runs in before they start tapering.
Tapering is important to ensure that on race day they are at their peak and not over it. The lure of running harder, faster just before tapering is quite strong because by now the runner is in peak shape. This is when it is important to Reign in the impulse to push harder!
For Runners preparing for the TMM, in less than 2 weeks’ time , this is key point to remember. Don’t be lured into getting extra miles in, or running a lot faster because you can.
Try to be patient and stick to your taper.
Good luck for race!!