The Week Before A Marathon

What To Do In The Week Before Your Marathon
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By Coach Tim, We Run Coach for Cardiff and the We Run Virtual Running Club

Just kidding. The week before your marathon is all about controlling the controllables and arriving at the startline with all the one-percenters in the bag. Here’s what to do:

Train, But Take It Easy

Unless you’re carrying a niggle, there’s no problem with going for a couple of runs on race week. In fact, it’s a good idea: If you’ve been doing plenty of running for the last few months and then suddenly stop, your legs will wonder what’s going on! Keep your runs slower than marathon pace and keep them short. If you decide not to train on marathon week then strolling a couple of miles the day before the race will loosen up your legs. However, apart from this, your race day should be spent resting – do not go shopping and do not spent ages walking around the race expo, no matter how exciting the stands look; get your number and get out!

You should also resist the urge to try any new sports in race week. Dusting off your badminton racket for the first time since school could give you aches in muscles you didn’t know you had.

Carb Load, But Don’t Try Any New Foods

Eating correctly is one of the most important things you’ll do on race week. We’ve written a whole separate blog post on how to fuel and refuel for a marathon, don’t eat anything new and avoid fatty foods.

Sort Your Logistics

Plan how you’re going to get to the start and where you’re going to park, checking for any road closures and public transport alterations on race day.

Make sure anything you might wear on race day is washed and dried. The night before the race, pin your number on your vest and lay your kit out ready. For more on kit, read our guide to preparing your kit for marathon day.


Get into the habit of going to bed early, so the night before the race feels routine. Try and have a good sleep two nights before the race; if nerves get the better of you the night before the race and you have trouble sleeping, you’ll probably get away with it if you’ve slept well on the previous few nights. If you do have trouble sleeping; don’t panic – horizontal rest is half as good.

A Sports Massage…

…two or three days before the race might be a good idea. Make sure you tell your masseur that you’re running a marathon and they’ll go easy on you.

On Race Day Morning

Have a carb-heavy breakfast about two hours before the race and drink a pint of water between two and one hours before the last time you can go to the toilet.

Arrive at the start early enough so you don’t stress about being late and end up running an extra mile to the start line as all the nearer car parks are full; 26.2 miles is more than enough! However, don’t arrive so early that you end up standing around getting cold. If you find yourself in this predicament, find yourself somewhere warm to sit down.

Keep an eye on the queues for the portaloos. The combination of nerves and the pint of water you’ve drunk may cause you to have to use them a couple of times, so if the queues are long allow yourself time to get to the front before your bladder gives you too much grief! And take your own toilet roll as they often run out.

When the race starts, remember your body will find it easier if you start slowly and speed up (or start slowly and keep running slowly!) Lots of people make the mistake of getting over-excited and going off too quickly; don’t be one of them!

what you need to do
  • Don’t be afraid to do a couple of short easy runs. However, do be afraid of trying new sports!

  • Carb load, but avoid anything fatty and anything new!

  • Make sure your kit is washed and dried

  • Make a plan of how you’re going to get to the start, remembering some roads may be closed and normal public transport services may be affected by the race

  • On race day morning get to the start early, but not too early, and take your own toilet roll for the portaloos


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