1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

The Week Before Your Marathon or Half Marathon

Final Preparations


Updated May 17, 2014

Start Line Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon

Start Line Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon

Wendy Bumgardner © 2009

The week before your marathon or half marathon is a time of final preparation.


Your final long distance training walk should have come two weeks before your race. The weekend before your race should have been at reduced mileage, known as tapering. This gives your muscles a chance to rebuild and restore rather then stressing them with increased mileage. Your longest mileage day a week before a marathon should be 10 to 12 miles, and for a half marathon it should be 6 miles.

During the week before your marathon or half marathon, continue to get in shorter fitness walks or runs (if you are a runner or run/walker) of 30 to 60 minutes, each day or every other day. You want to stay limber, but no hard training or difficult hills and stairs.

Diet and Carboloading

The week before your race, eat a healthy balanced diet. Current thinking in sports training is that excessive carboloading is not needed. This is no time to change your diet dramatically. Don't overeat. Avoid foods that give you gas or loose stools, especially in the two days before your race. Avoid alcohol and high-caffeine energy drinks in the two days before your race, to help prevent dehydration.

Race Instructions

Read the race instructions thoroughly.
  • Where do you pick up your race packet and what hours and days is it open? Do you need your registration number or verification and ID? Can somebody else pick up your packet or do you have to pick up your own?
  • How will you get to the starting line and home from the finish? What transportation concerns do they warn you about? Will you be shuttled to a distant starting point?
  • Where is the gear drop and the gear pick-up?
  • What on-course support is there for water, sports drink, toilets?
  • Where can your family and friends view your race and cheer you on the course?
  • What are the time limits and logistics if you fall behind?
  • Are there any rule restrictions such as no headphones, no strollers or pets, no walking poles?
  • If you are part of a team or charity marathon group, verify any meetings or social activities you will have before, during or after the race.

Get A Good Night's Sleep (Yeah, Right!)

Clear your schedule the week before the race to give yourself the best chance of getting several nights of good sleep. Sleep is when the body rebuilds and restores muscles, as sleep is sports training! Eliminate any late-night plans and avoid early-morning ones as well. Clear your schedule to give yourself the best chance of being rested and ready. Avoid alcohol, avoid caffeine after 12 pm, and spicy sleep-disturbing foods. If you are traveling, take along ear plugs and a sleep mask.
Top 10 Ways to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

If you find yourself wide-eyed and worried all night before the race, that's not a race-killer. Many of us toss and turn the night before the race and make it through just fine.

Coordinate With Companions

If you are racing with a companion or group or sharing a ride to and from the race, finalize all plans and time schedules early in the week. Be sure you have all contact information for them, especially if you are traveling. If you are providing the ride, gas up the car and make sure it is in working order early in the week.

Check the Weather Forecast

What you wear on race day depends on the forecast. Plan for it being at the top of the predicted temperature. But be ready for it to be chilly while waiting for the starting gun. If there is any chance of rain, be prepared with a rain poncho, trash bags or other lightweight rain gear.
Tips for walking races in hot weather
Tips for walking races in cold weather
Tips for walking races in the rain
Tips for racing in the dark

Get Your Gear Ready

The first rule is nothing new on race day. That means that everything put on or in your body should have been tested in your long training days. If you are traveling to your race, you need to be extra cautious when packing. Make a packing list to make sure all of your race gear and clothing make it into your luggage. Nothing's worse than discovering you left your tried-and-true shoes or shirt behind. But even for a hometown event, you don't want those items still in the laundry pile the night before the race.

Next: Getting Your Marathon Clothing and Gear Ready

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.