Only four weeks until Venicemarathon! In preparing for your race you should be at your peak mileage in the next twenty days. The immune system, that set of mechanisms that works to defend your body from viruses and bacteria, will be put to the test. Not only because your body is stressed with longer runs, but especially because at this time of year we’re going through another season change. One day it's hot, the next day it’s cold and our bodies don’t always adapt so well.
A decrease in mileage during the tapering weeks should help you recover faster, but it’s not always enough. That’s why many marathoners become ill with fevers, flus and pulmonary influenceswithin a few weeks of the race. I have three simple tips to strengthen your immune system and get you to the starting line still in one piece. It’s all about sleep and rest.
- Go to bed early once a week. I usually choose Wednesday for this task. Have a light early dinner, even a half hour before your usual time would be good. No after dinner television or any other screens. Get in bed and under the covers by 9:00 p.m. with a book. Not before long you should feel your eyelids becoming heavy, the signal to shut off the light. The quality of your sleep is better when going to bed early and sleeping at least eight hours rather than sleeping in during the morning. Give it a try!
- Take an afternoon nap. The idea is not to spend hours on the couch screwing up your natural biorhythm but rather just getting in a quick nap. If you practice it enough times you’ll be able to get yourself into REM in only twenty minutes. Here’s the method:
- Set a timer for the desired nap time (20 minutes is ideal, no longer than 30).
- Lie on your back and place an arm over your eyes shut out any light.
If practiced every day you will be more able to rest completely in those twenty minutes. Afterwards feel awake and ready to do your afternoon workout with more energy.
- Don’t be afraid to take a full day of rest. If you feel a scratchy throat or a cold coming on it’s better to stop and rest than force yourself to be active. It's always better to skip some workouts and get to race day healthy rather than completing every single workout but show up on race day sick or injured.