Questions from a Dragon Boat team I have been training about race preparation- A week or two before the competition, will you have your own team perform hard lifts? Or what kind of training do you arrange for your team?
There are many variables to consider such as sleep, hydration, mental fatigue and attitude, the preceding training volume, nutrition, travel distance, length of race event (and how many races are scheduled per day) and also the actual recovery time available between races.
While it is always preferable for a coach to design a program that is specific to his team / individuals in the run up to a big race / event, there are some general guidelines we can adopt, especially in the final 1-2 weeks leading up to competition.
In general, a “taper” starts in proportion to the length of the race- if it is a long endurance event such as an ultra marathon, then 10-7 days prior, your training volume should decrease with perhaps intensity increasing in order to achieve a super-compensation effect (high training followed by recovery will increase fitness and performance ability).
The super-compensation effect applies to cardiovascular and resistance training equally.
Note that with hard 1-3 rm and up to 9 sets or a maximum effort day, the recovery takes 72 hours. It is important to factor in this recovery period.
I prefer my athletic clients to do max effort day on a Monday so that they are recovered from that session by Thursday (and ready for a dynamic effort session of the same exercises at faster speed and higher reps).
If competing that weekend, then the max effort day on Monday will be the final weights session of the week. We need to give the body time to recover. I would then consider a low weight / high speed power session on a Tuesday and at the latest on a Wednesday (low volume, long rest).
For cardio, I train my team in a circuit fashion on Tuesdays, leading up to a Saturday or Sunday race day. Usually on a Thursday I advocate a short “on the water” race start training and perhaps 1-2 race pieces.
I recommend increased muscle restoration sessions such as stretching, foam rolling, deep tissue massage as much as possible in the final week.
For further reference on other aspects of race preparation, you can check out this conditioning circuit which I designed for the Seagods Dragon Boat squad in Hong Kong.
You can also read about a series of fitness tests I designed specifically to gauge and track progress here.
Finally, I wrote a couple of detailed blogs earlier this year that address the topics of nutrition and mindset, with specific reference and guidelines to race preparation.