What to do the week before a marathon

What to do the week before a marathon

The week before a marathon can be a weird time for runners and it’s sometimes difficult to know what to do with yourself. You’re running less, you have more time on your hands and often that extra time is filled with worrying about all the things that could do wrong on race day. Here’s what you need to focus on to feel prepared for your marathon.

Running the week before a marathon

If your taper is going well, you should be doing very little running this week. Usually a couple of easy-paced 5k runs is all you need to do to keep your legs ticking over – that’s what you’ll find in the last week of most marathon training plans. You’re not going to build any fitness or speed this week, so all you can do is relax and enjoy your running.

What you should avoid is getting carried away on any of your runs. As your taper starts to kick in your legs will be feeling fresh and it’s easy to get swept along at parkrun. Try to reign it in and save yourself for the marathon.

Cut back on strength training the week before a marathon

As well as reducing your running, you should also cut back on strength training or any other physical activity you do. And yes, this can include housework! You have out permission to avoid the hoover this week.

With all the extra spare time on your hands it can be tempting to try something new – but this is definitely not the time to book a PT session or fitness class. Save that until after race day.

Check your race kit

You should have your race kit narrowed down to a couple of options that you want to run in on marathon day. Is it all clean and up to the task? Check it all over in advance to make sure your lucky pants are ready to go and that no holes have appeared in your favorite running shorts.

race admin

Has your race number arrived yet or do you need to collect it? Check the final instructions sent out by event organizers to make sure you’ve got everything you need for race day. If your race has an expo, try to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

Your instructions will tell you what time you need to be at the start and what time your wave begins. Work out how you’re going to get there and if you’re planning to use public transport, it’s worth checking if there are any train or bus strikes planned.

Food prep the week before a marathon

Your carb loading for race day will begin two or three days before race day so you’ll need to hit the shops and make sure you’ve got enough snacks and supplies to fuel up. Plan and meal prep what you’re going to eat the night before the race as well as for breakfast race morning.

Make sure you’ve got sufficient supply of any gels or sweets you’re going to take on the course – and if you’ve had them in the cupboard for a while, check that they haven’t expired.

Write a race plan

Take out a piece of paper and write down the plan for your race. What fuel and hydration are you going to take and when? Who will be there on the course and where will you see them? What is your A, B and C goal for the day? What is your goal pace? These are all questions you need to know the answer to – writing it all down helps clarify it in your mind and means you’re more likely to achieve it.

try to relax

Once all the essential prep is done, try to relax and think about anything other than the marathon. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk. Try to recognize things that are making you anxious and avoid them. This might mean staying off of social media or avoiding other runners.

get some sleep

You’re unlikely to sleep soundly the night before your race as you’ll need an early start and pre-race nerves may keep you up. So it’s doubly important that you try to sleep well in the few days before the marathon. Turn your phone off, resist another episode of your favorite show and head to bed.

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