What to Do the Week Before a Race

Tips for the Week Leading Up to a Race

Time really seems to fly by while training for a race, and this training season has been no different. As we begin the last weekend of October, it is such an important milestone in my training. Not because October is ending, but because tomorrow marks exactly one week until the New York City Marathon.


The week leading up to a race always brings unexpected anxiety, no matter how thoroughly we train.  No matter how many long runs we complete or how strong we feel, running less during taper brings it’s fair share of uncertainties. While preparing to run a distance race, our minds are telling us that in order to prepare we need to run farther. It only makes sense: in order to be prepared, we have to have practiced it.

Related: Taper Tips and Race Week Tricks

However, our research and training plans tell us that in order to be truly prepared, we need to rest. As race day approaches, we realize that we have less time to compensate for the mistakes we made during training. With our goal race looming on the horizon, we find ourselves second guessing our ability to complete it.

Related: 8 Race Day Tips for Running Your Best Race

While fall races reach their peak during these next few weeks, here are some tips for the week before a race.

Tips for the Week Leading up to Your Race

12 Things To Do the Week Before Your Race

Get a few shake out runs in – maintain frequency but shorten length.

I always like to keep my normal three days of running for the week, but shorten the run distance. The week leading up to my marathon I will run 4, 3 and 3 miles. This helps keep my anxiety at bay with a few runs, while not tiring my legs out right before the race.

Change one of your cross training or strength training days to a rest day.

I like to push my strength training day to the beginning of the week and then take a rest day on my cross training day. This allows me time to get in a little more rest, or maybe a short walk instead. I always do less reps during my strength workout to make sure I’m not sore for race day, and then try to walk a little more later in the week.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Hydration is especially important this week! Drinking plenty of water will help you not become dehydrated on race day. You should aim for drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. This hydration should come from water and water only – no sodas, alcohol or sugary drinks.

Stretch and foam roll – but don’t do anything different.

You want to make sure your muscles are as loose as possible for race day by not skipping out on stretching. However, make sure you don’t try any new stretches this week because they may leave you feeling sore afterwards.

Stretches Before a Race

Look through race logistics and plan out race day.

While you have some extra time from shorter runs, look through the course map, start times, transportation, and everything else that you will need to know for race day. Plan what you will use for fuel, how often you will eat, when you will go to the bathroom, and if you will stop for aid stations.

Eat less fiber starting 3 days prior to your race.

Starting about three days before the race, I like to cut down on my veggie intake in order to decrease my fiber. This helps ensure that my digestive system has less of a chance of having issues on race day.

Start increasing your carbs on Wednesday of race week.

While decreasing my fiber intake, I like to increase my carbohydrate intake to compensate. This doesn’t mean that I go all out and binge eat spaghetti, but I try to focus my meals around pasta and bread in the few days leading up to the race.

Carb Load Before a Race

Pick an awesome race outfit.

Nothing helps your excitement grow like taking time to pick out and outfit you are excited to wear! Plan what you will wear – which means look through the weather forecast for race day. Check out the hourly if possible, and plan for any changes in temperature that may occur throughout the race. Head to a local thrift shop to buy some throwaway clothes for the start – some sweatpants or a sweatshirt that you can throw off right before the race starts.

Read through your training log or look back through your training plan.

This is one thing that I always look forward to doing during race week. I make sure to dedicate some time to sit down with my training log and read through all the past weeks of training. This helps me feel confident heading into race weekend and reminds me of all the preparation I have completed.

Get in a relaxed walk or shake out run the day before the race.

Running the day before a race has never worked for my body, but I know it does for many others. If a short shakeout run of 2-3 miles will help calm your nerves, then head out the day before the race for some slow miles. I find that running the day before the race is a little too much for my body to handle, so I make sure to get in a relaxed walk the day before the race to keep my legs from getting stiff.

Shakeout Walk Before a Race

Go to bed early.

Two nights before the race is the most important night of sleep. I always used to stress about not being able to fall asleep the night before a race – turns out that doesn’t matter very much. The week leading up to your race it’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This way your body can hit the starting line feeling fresh and energized.

Don’t try anything new! Stick to your routine.

This is the most important thing to remember. Stick to your routine and don’t try anything new. That means no new foods, stretches, exercises, clothes, etc. You have practiced each run and your body will know what to do on race day if it feels the same.

Good luck on those upcoming races! I am going to spend some time this week keeping myself busy packing, planning, and getting excited for the marathon next weekend. Now is the time that we have been dreaming of throughout training – the time when we get to rest and relax without feeling guilty.

Happy race week!

Preparing for race day? Download this free race day checklist to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

12 Things to Do the Week Before a Race

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