My Pre-Race Checklist – The Week Before The Race

In the run-up to a running event, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and overlook something critical.

Whether you’re running a 10km or a 100km, your first race or your 50th, having a to-do list can help give your preparation some structure, and help you relax – knowing that you haven’t forgotten anything.   I write out a pre-race checklist before any race I do, so thought I’d share it here – along with some notes on each item.

This article covers my pre-race checklist for the week prior to the marathon.   Check out the accompanying article, Pre-Race Checklist – 24hrs Before The Race for more.

half marathon

Pre-Race Checklist – One Week Prior to the Race

OK so your race is practically in your sights.  You’ve spent the previous few weeks tapering, and by now you should be feeling rested and prepared.  This week is all about looking after yourself, and getting to the start line in optimal condition.

Race Registration

Make sure you’ve completed the race registration process fully.   Often there is a race expo one week prior to the event, in which you have to turn up and register to receive your bib and some other goodies.   If in doubt, check the website and get in touch with the race organisers.

Keep Looking After Yourself

Getting ill this week can completely kill your race plans – even if you recover enough to attempt the race, you are still sacrificing all your training. So looking after yourself really is number one for this week.

If that colleague you sit next to starts coughing, move away from them.  Take extra care with personal hygiene, and only eat quality foods from places you really trust.  If in doubt, cook for yourself.   Get plenty of rest and don’t exert yourself, either in training or at work.

Related: What To Do If You Get Ill Before Your Race

Plan Out The 48hrs Before The Race

One week before the event, sit down and run through the 48hrs before the race.  Where are you going to stay, how are you going to get to the start line, which clothes are you going to take with you, and so on.  Clearly picture in your head every part of the build-up to the race, then the race itself and the period after the race.

Run (a Little)

As per your training plan, you want to run a little.  You should do an abridged “long run” one week before the race, then perhaps two more very short and low-intensity runs through the week – the number will depend on your level and training plan.

These runs keep your legs limber and loose, so they’re ready come race day.

Stretch (But Don’t Do Anything New)

It’s likely that you’ve incorporated some cross-training into your tapering period, and that’s great.  It fills in the gaps in your training schedule as you wind down your running training, and keeps your body active.

If your cross-training includes pilates, yoga or gym work, that’s great – just make sure you aren’t incorporating anything new into your training at this point.  If the instructor decides to take you through a complex leg stretch, or asks you to push a bit harder when working on the hamstrings, just politely explain you’ve got a big race coming up so are being delicate with your legs.

Rest and Eat

This week, you’re allowed to relax a bit more.  ‘Carb loading’ is a favourite of distance runners – eating carb-rich foods this week will give your body more fuel to burn through on race day.  Note that fuelling strategies differ, and especially these days not every runner conforms with the ‘carb-loading’ programmes that used to be standard.  If you’re a beginner, it won’t hurt to stick to hearty evening meals with some pasta.

Doctors say that it’s most important to get a good sleep two nights before the race, so if your marathon is on a Sunday, make sure you give yourself the best possible rest on Friday night.


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Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and playing with his two tiny kids. More at his bio.

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