I must admit to being entirely puzzled by the concept of training for races, and the preparation that takes you up to the final days before a big race.
Before my first 10K, I scoured the websites and researched preparation thoroughly. I tapered my runs following a plan I found online, did interval training, hydrated zealously in the days prior and "carbo-loaded" the day before. And the race was fine, I was able to run a decent time and was pleased that the prep had clearly paid off.
For my next 10K about half a year later, I was much worse prepared. I didn't train as frequently in the run-up, had a complete lack of plan and didn't eat particularly well beforehand. Yet the race was fine, I beat my previous time and didn't even feel as tired as the time before.
My next race was one year later - a half-marathon - and I managed to kick it up a gear in the complete dopey unpreparedness. Not on purpose, mind . . . as far as I was aware, I had no plans at all and hadn't run for at least five months prior. I had taken a break from running (merely down to laziness, admittedly) and had gone on holiday, where I proceeded to do no physical exercise, consumed copious amounts of alcohol and amp; "bad" food and very late nights. Then right on my return home, a friend handed me her place in a half-marathon, taking place in two days' time. Now I'd never run more than 10K . . . has anyone ever watched the episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Barney just wakes up and runs a marathon? (Quote: "Step one, you start running. There is no step two.”) - I literally did that! Yet not only did I (miraculously!) manage to finish and feel fine, but I also managed a faster time than my extremely fit friend, who had been training for months on end (and was teetotal for weeks before).
Which leads me to question the validity of training? Does it actually counteractively exhaust you? Or is it a mental boost? What does everyone think, and has anyone ever really seen a vast difference between training and not before a race?