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Race Prep 101

Everything you need to know and do to successfully prepare for your upcoming endurance race

You’ve just completed your last long run, ride or swim for your upcoming race, and feel relieved that the hardest part of training is over. No more packing around multiple water bottles or gels during your long and rides runs; no more spending an entire weekend morning pounding the pavement, swimming laps or riding roads and trails. You’ve put in the hard work. Now it’s time to ease up and get ready for race day.

But just how much resting up should you do? Should you still do speedwork? How long should your weekend runs / rides/ swims be now? What should you eat? What gear do you need for race day? 

Here’s a list of a few important things you need to do or consider to successfully prepare for your upcoming endurance race.

Taper time
Tapering, where you ease up on training before your race, lets your body recover just enough while maintaining your fitness level so you’re ready to perform on race day. How you taper depends a bit on how you train, but generally you want to cut your training volume by 20 to 30 per cent each week from your highest volume week, which is typically between three to four weeks out from race day. So, for example, if you are training for a marathon and you ran a total of 55 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs, one 4 km run, and one 36 km run) four weeks out from your race, you could run a total of 39 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace with 4-7 minutes of repetitions in each, one 4 km run, and one 20 km run) the following week; a total of 28 kilometres (two 7.5 km runs at marathon pace and one 13 km run) the next week; and the week before the race you could do two easy 5 km runs and one easy 3 km run with a few pick-ups near the end to get the legs moving.

Race day checklist
Reduce your pre-race jitters (and potential to forget an important piece of race gear) by creating a gear checklist ahead of race day. Write down all the essentials from the bottom up, such as running or cycling shoes, socks, compression sleeves, shorts and a shirt (or a trisuit and wetsuit), race number or hydration belt, sports bra, shirt, arm warmers, Garmin watch, Vaseline (to help prevent chafing), iPod and ear buds, smartphone holder, smartphone, hat, sunglasses, helmet or a hat, water bottle, gels or bars, a change of clothes, your bike and a towel. Gather everything together the night before the race and go through your checklist before you leave the house. 

Nutrition
During the first and second week of taper, focus on eating lots of fresh, healthy foods, staying hydrated and upping your protein intake slightly to help with muscle repair. Keep your carbohydrate consumption the same until the last three days before your race. During that time, eat an extra 100-200 grams of carbs per day to boost glycogen stores in your muscle —your primary source of fuel on race day. The night before the race, don’t feel like you need to inhale a huge bowl of pasta—take in complex carbs during each meal over the entire day and have a light and healthy dinner (like baked chicken and rice with a salad), one that you know sits well with you and won’t cause any stomach upset.

Rest and repair
We all know sleep = repair, so get as much shut-eye as you can over the next few weeks. If you can, book a pre-race therapeutic massage about five to seven days out from the race. Not only is a pre-race massage relaxing (and might help you sleep better), but also can increase blood flow, reduce muscle soreness, and restore joint range of motion. 

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Treating Concussions with Physiotherapy

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion

It’s everywhere.  The talk about concussion. Everyone seems to know someone that has had one or is currently sitting on the sidelines because of one.  

According to Statistics Canada approximately 30,000 hockey players a year suffer a concussion.  Seventy eight percent of all concussions occur during sport. 

What is a concussion? A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. It is a shear stress to the brain tissue caused by rotational or angular forces, direct impact is not required. Some injuries to the brain can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don't realize it. Most symptoms resolve within 7-10 days, however, approximately 30% of the time symptoms persist. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. There are 22 signs and symptoms that can result from concussions, most of us are only aware on average of about 5 or 6.  

Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football, rugby, soccer. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. The brain needs time to rest and heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild (mTBI), and people usually recover fully.  

If you are involved in a contact sport it is important to get a baseline test done. Baseline concussion tests give health care professionals a starting point should you sustain a concussion during your season. Baseline tests are used to assess an athlete’s balance and brain function (including learning and memory skills, ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she thinks and solve problems), as well as for the presence of any concussion symptoms. Results from baseline tests (or pre-injury tests) can be used and compared to a similar exam conducted by a health care professional during the season if an athlete has a suspected concussion.

Baseline tests consist of a series of clinically validated musculoskeletal, vestibular, balance, proprioceptive and cognitive protocols including; SCAT3, ImPACT and BESS standardized tests. These tests give us valuable objective data so that in the event of a concussion, we know what normal was for the athlete and this helps us in making informed decisions about an individualized treatment path and when to determine the athlete is ready to return to school or sport. 

 

Think of your brain as you would another body part that you may injure, knee, back, shoulder. Each body part injured needs treatment. The brain needs to be rehabilitated too. Studies show that within an 8 week vestibular and cervical spine rehabilitation program, athletes with symptoms of headache, dizziness and neck pain have a 66% higher rate of return to sport/school (Orthopaedic Division Review-Vol.27 No.2). Certified Athletic Therapists and Physiotherapists are trained to take the patient through a series of validated treatment protocols depending on the flagged areas after a concussion. We look at all the systems that the brain controls and what it is affected by; the neck (cervicogenic), the vestibular system, balance, memory and the oculormotor system (eyes). We are able to focus our treatment on the specific area that is causing your symptoms. For example if we flag an area through your baseline test redone, and through our series of assessment processes with your eyes, we essentially take your eyes to the gym and strengthen them back up. Until all the systems are functioning properly together will you be able to return to your daily life, work, school and play at 100%. 

Here are a few excellent resources online for more detailed concussion information.

https://sjhc.london.on.ca/concussion-mtbi

http://links.lww.com/JHTR/A131

http://dvbic.dcoe.mil/resources/progressive-return-to-activity

 

Kara Creed is a Certified Athletic Therapist and Nancy Botting is a Sport Physiotherapist. Both are from Physical Edge Physiotherapy - a multidisciplinary sort medicine clinic in Oakville , Ontario. www.physicaledgephysio.com