How to Prepare the Week before a Marathon
The final week before a marathon can be exciting! Months of training and hard work have prepared you for your marathon (or half marathon). You’ve done the long runs, completed the workouts and are almost through the taper.
If this is your first marathon, you’re probably feeling excited, nervous, and a little apprehensive. If you’ve run the distance before, you’re probably feeling excited, nervous, and a little apprehensive. The marathon does that to you – beginners and seasoned pros alike.
In my final week of preparation for my fourth marathon, I surveyed my running buddies to gain valuable insights from their dozens of collective marathons. Here are some tips for your final race week preparations:
Obviously runners attempting a marathon need more sleep. I have found (anecdotally) that your most important night’s sleep could be 2-3 nights before the marathon, so stockpile! If you can’t sleep the night before the race because of nerves, don’t worry.
You’re probably used to eating whatever you want during training. Lay off that second dinner or late night snack this week, no need to gorge yourself. Also, avoid high fiber foods or anything fried. Only eat predictable foods that won’t upset your digestive system!
Carry a Water Bottle
Sip on water during the day and monitor your pee to stay hydrated. Seriously. Urine too yellow? Drink more. Crystal clear? Back off. You’re looking for a lemonade shade.
Get off your Feet
Now isn’t the time to tackle that home project or explore a new hiking route. Go about your normal routine, but get off your feet whenever possible. Run according to your training plan taper and relax.
Study the Course
If you live locally, you’ve hopefully been able to run at least part of the race course. If not, try to study the map provided by the race organization. Better yet, run, bike, or drive portions of the course; It will be helpful to know the location of the hills, aid stations, and porta potties during the race.
Plan your Race Strategy
Do you plan to hold one pace during the race or run the second half faster? Negative splits? Planning to get paced by a pacer? Regardless, rehearse your race plan in your mind, monitor how you’re feeling on race day, and adjust accordingly.
Plan Race Day Logistics
Plan the following now:
- Pre and post race transportation – It’s hectic at the start, how will you get to and from the race?
- Sweats check and post race bag – Consider what you’ll want immediately before and after your race.
- Help friends and family pick spots to cheer – Let them know where you’ll likely need a friendly face and help them navigate the course.
Try Nothing New
Race week isn’t the time to try new shoes, a new hydration strategy or a new racing shirt purchased at the expo. If it hasn’t been tested through the rigors of your training (from gear to food), don’t change.
A successful training cycle might be more difficult than the actual race. Races can go quickly (as grueling as they are). Different moments from your training will become part of your total marathon memory.
Whatever your goals, whatever the outcome, you’ve worked hard to get here. Do your best, don’t quit, and take pride knowing you’ve done something difficult.