10 Tips for the Week of a Marathon / Half Marathon

Marathon & Half-Marathon Training Advice
10 Tips for the Week of a Marathon / Half Marathon

The final countdown: 10 tips for the week before your marathon

The final week before your big race, whether that is a half or full marathon, or even an ultra, can be a stressful time. It is also a time with your reduced running workload that gives the body time to rest and assimilate the benefits of those long weeks of hard training. Here are 10 simple tips to ease the stress and leave you on the start line ready to race.

  1. Race-day kit list
  2. Pacing
  3. Race drink strategy
  4. Plan your travel to the start
  5. Eat, drink and sleep well
  6. Training
  7. Mental preparation
  8. Don't try anything new
  9. Recovery starts when you cross the finish line
  10. Don't panic!

1. Race-day kit list

Get all your race-day kit sorted well in advance. You should have decided on your main kit and worn it on a run or two at least. Your running shoes should definitely not be changed too close to the race.

If you're reading this well in advance of your race, and haven't chosen all your kit yet, below are a few of our favourite products for inspiration. For more in-depth advice, check out these articles:

What to wear for a marathon / Best marathon running shoes 

Tip #1
Lay out your race-day kit from top to toe. Don’t forget some comfy post-race kit too. Have it all ready in a separate small race-day bag, clearly labeled. If necessary, you can then also use it as your baggage bag to collect at the finish line.

BodyGlide Original Anti-Chafe Balm 42g

BodyGlide Original Anti-Chafe Balm 42g
Anti-Chafe & Blister Prevention
£14.99

Shokz OpenRun Pro Headphones

Shokz OpenRun Pro Headphones
Running Headphones
£159.95

Hilly Marathon Fresh Minimum Cushioning Anklet Socks

Hilly Marathon Fresh Minimum Cushioning Anklet Socks
Running Socks
£15

Pressio Equilibrium Compression Socks

Pressio Equilibrium Compression Socks
Compression Running Socks & Calf Guards
£40

Men's Janji Run All Day Tech Tee

Men's Janji Run All Day Tech Tee
Men's Running T-Shirt
£50

Men's Ronhill Tech Race Twin Shorts

Men's Ronhill Tech Race Twin Shorts
Men's 2-in-1 Running Shorts
£65

Women's Brooks Sprint Free Tee

Save - 20%

Women's Brooks Sprint Free Tee
Women's Running T-Shirt
£40 £32

Women's Ronhill Tech Race Twin Shorts

Women's Ronhill Tech Race Twin Shorts
Women's 2-in-1 Running Shorts
£65

2. Pacing

Go over, or prepare, your pacing schedule. You will know from your training how fit you are and what your expectations might be.

Tip #2
If you can't commit things to memory, write key splits on your hand if necessary and be prepared to slow down and adjust your pace. The age-old advice of start slow and go a bit slower, is still excellent advice to follow if you want to be strong in the last third of the race.

GPS running watches are great for tracking pacing and sticking to your race-day schedule. Some popular options include the Garmin Forerunner series, such as the Forerunner 255, 265 and 965, which have advanced GPS features and provide accurate data on pace, distance, and heart rate. As with all your kit it's best to train with it first, so you're familiar with the functions.

Garmin Forerunner 265

Garmin Forerunner 265
Running GPS & Heart Rate Monitors
£429.99

Garmin Forerunner 265s

Garmin Forerunner 265s
Running GPS & Heart Rate Monitors
£429.99

3. Race drink strategy

It is such an individual area, but using the experience you have built up on your long training runs, work out how much you need to drink and when. Race feeding stations eliminate the need to carry your fluids. Check out our hydration guide for more details.

Tip #3
Check your race instructions or the race website to see how many feed stations to expect at your race and also what is going to be provided.

If you'd rather have more control over your fluid intake rather than relying solely on aid stations, you might consider a hydration vest. As well as easy-access fluids, they provide storage for items like energy gels, keys, and phones.

Montane Gecko VP 5+ 2023

Montane Gecko VP 5+ 2023
Running Hydration Packs & Race Vests
£120

Salomon Adv Skin 5 Set

Salomon Adv Skin 5 Set
Running Hydration Packs & Race Vests
£125

4. Plan your travel to the start

Always allow more time than you think, as you will not be the only one traveling! There could be a few hundred or even a few thousand people on race day. Be patient, you are all doing this together!

Tip #4
If planning to meet family/friends after the race, plan your meeting point in advance either at the race dispersal area or at a nearby landmark/cafe etc. Ensure your mobile is fully charged, and you have agreed an approximate meeting time.

5. Eat, drink and sleep well

In the week before the race, ensure you eat well and sleep well. Much is written and discussed about exact feeding strategies. Don’t deviate much from your usual diet that has served you well through your build up. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, rich in basic nutrients. Drink plenty of water and add some electrolyte or carbohydrate powder in the last 2-4 days. Increasing the carbohydrate food intake without overdoing it in the last 2-3 days will also ensure your system is “topped up” prior to race day.

Tip #5
The week before the race, get to bed an hour earlier. Don’t eat too late the night before the race, especially if the race is an early start. Allow 2-3 hours before sleeping to let food digest well.

Precision Hydration Electrolyte Tablets

Precision Hydration Electrolyte Tablets
Running Hydration Drinks
£8.99

Nuun Sport Electrolytes

Nuun Sport Electrolytes
Running Hydration Drinks
£7.25

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel 30 Servings

Tailwind Nutrition Endurance Fuel 30 Servings
Running Energy & Hydration Drinks
£26

6. Training

If you have been following your schedule, you should be on your taper phase now, with a greatly reduced volume of training in the last week. The taper is designed to leave you feeling fresh and ready to run on race day.

Tip #6
Don’t cram extra training Into the last week. It is generally acknowledged that in the last 2 weeks, extra training will have pretty much zero effect on race day performance, and will probably lead to you just being tired on race day and under-performing.

7. Mental preparation

Your body has to be prepared and fit, but so too does your mind. Why not take a moment to read something? Below are our top picks.

Tip #7
Take a few minutes each day to just sit down and calm your self and visualise yourself at various points on the course, and also crossing that finish line. Divide the race into three stages. Think of relaxing in the early stages. Being able to focus a little more in the middle of the race while still trying to relax. The last third of the race can be all about hanging in there. Remember, and hold fast to the original idea or motivation, that led you to think doing this race was a “good idea”. You may need to tap into that seed idea when your body starts complaining in the last few miles.

Seeking Perfect Health: Spiritual Secrets to Staying Healthy

Seeking Perfect Health: Spiritual Secrets to Staying Healthy
Running Books
£12.99

222 Meditation Techniques

222 Meditation Techniques
Running Books
£14

8. Don’t try anything new

Resist the temptation to try anything new in the week before the race or on race day itself.

Tip #8
What has worked in training, and on your long runs, will work on race day.

9. Recovery

Avoid the temptation to stop or sit down right away. Keep walking slowly for a few minutes to allow the body to unwind slowly after that big effort.

Tip #9
Have a protein recovery drink or recovery bar, plus a special favourite post-race snack in your post-race bag. Do eat and drink them in the 20 minutes after you have finished to help start the recovery process.

Clif Bar Nut Butter Filled

Clif Bar Nut Butter Filled
Running Energy & Recovery Bars
£2.79

Sportlab Cooldown Cream

Sportlab Cooldown Cream
Muscle Recovery & Strengthening
£14.60

U.P. Sport Balm - Extra Strong

U.P. Sport Balm - Extra Strong
Foam Rollers & Massage Aids
£5

Fitness-Mad Foot Roller

Fitness-Mad Foot Roller
Muscle Recovery & Strengthening
£12.99

Hoka Ora Recovery Slide 3

Hoka Ora Recovery Slide 3
Unisex Sports Slide
£50

Oofos OOahh Slide

Oofos OOahh Slide
Unisex Sports Slide
£50

10. Don't panic

Everyone will have something going a bit pear-shaped in the last week, and most runners will have a little bad patch during the race.

Tip #10
Although you have spent weeks and months training for the big day, When all is said and done, it is just our “Serious Playtime”. Be grateful you actually made the start line able to enjoy race day. Strive for your goals, certainly, but keep things in perspective. Enjoy! Smile as you cross that finish line :-)

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