By Rachel Cieslewicz
The 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship is just over two weeks away! The most intense training in preparation for your race should be complete. Tapering for key events is important; it allows your body to be fully recovered from many miles of running, and the resulting breakdown of tissues. When your body is given recovery from training, it builds itself back stronger than before. When done appropriately, you will have your best race ever. Many forget that there is more to tapering than just cutting back on mileage and intensity.
In order to achieve your ultimate form come race day, there are other key elements to rebuilding that are well worth the time commitment to your taper. There are three in my mind that contribute the greatest to rest, recovery and feeling fantastic. They are proper sleep, complete nutrition and a positive mind.
Sleep is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of living a successful athletic lifestyle. It is recommended that adults get 7-10 hours a night. The benefits are tremendous. Among the most important for your World Championship preparation is the fact that human growth hormone is produced while sleeping. This hormone is hugely responsible for restoring muscular, connective, and skeletal tissues. Yes, we heal when we sleep. In addition to body tissues being trained to a premium level, spending the next two weeks catching up on sleep will also enhance race day cognitive function, reaction times, and overall feeling fantastic! During the race, your well-slept athletic body will have the ability to push harder, as the ceiling of your perceived effort is lifted, allowing you to fly!
The ability to select quality nutrition is very important too. Endurance athletes have the tendency to choose simple carbohydrate foods. During training and racing, simple sugars such as Power Bar gels http://www.powerbar.com/ have their place. But the rest of the time complex carbs provide higher quality nutrients. Whole grains and green leafy vegetables will provide much better support for you than simple carbohydrates full of empty calories.
It is important to also pay attention to proteins. Choosing lean, quality proteins are vital for proper muscle repair. My favorites are raw nuts, seeds and wild fish. For runners, 1.4 to 1.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight is ideal.
An overlooked and/or often avoided nutrition component for endurance athletes is fat. Just as choosing proper carbohydrates, optimum fats are essential. Years of quality research have identified that omega 3 and 6 fatty acids in a 2:1 ratio will lead to optimum athletic performance. It can be difficult and time consuming to figure out how to balance these. My favorite way to get these nutrients is by taking Udo's oil http://oilthemachine.com/ Udo's is high quality and already in the perfect omega 3, 6 2:1 ratio and is certified organic. I do my best to consume 2-4 tablespoons of the oil a day in smoothies or on a salad. When I do this, I always start leaning out and feel amazing. My endurance improves as does my strength and speed. I recover faster and notice I have less inflammation and sleep better. It is one of my favorite supplements.
Tapering your body properly from training will absolutely prepare your body, mind, and spirit ready to fly come race day. During a taper, one interesting thing that can happen is for your strong mind to start to wonder if you've done enough training. Are you rested enough, are you going to have a great race? Instead of inquiring, be positive. Make the decision that you are about to have your most amazing race, and write it down.
You are ready for your best race ever. Why? You've spent an entire year preparing. You do all you can to be your greatest on race day, all while balancing life. One of the best ways to keep a positive mindset is to remember that you are about to be a part of the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship. Special things happen at XTERRA events. You have the opportunity to be a part of this year's magic. I'll see you in Hawaii, December 2.
Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, and placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1 [at] gmail.com () or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.