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How to Prepare for A Race: 9 Tips for Race Week


Whether you’re an experienced or new runner, race week may leave you feeling nervous. While it’s completely normal to experience pre-race jitters, the days leading up to your big run can have a large impact on your race. Follow these 9 tips for how to prepare physically and mentally for your strongest race!

This picture is taken of runners running a race. They are running towards the camera. There is a tree off to the left side of the photo. These runners are hopefully well rested which is a tip for how to prepare for a race.

After months of preparation, it’s finally race week! Time to turn down the intensity, catch your breath, and get ready to have some fun. Not only is it time to recover from your training, it’s also time to get excited for your big day. Taking advantage of race week, getting organized, and preparing can set yourself up well for a fun, successful, and fast run. Below are nine tips for how to prepare for your best race.

How to Prepare For a Race: 9 Tips for Race Week

1. Stay busy

First, you may find yourself with more time on your hands during race week because you’re tapering. Coupled with the fact that you have a big run approaching and you may feel nervous. Now is the time to focus on things other than running to keep your thoughts occupied and nerves at bay! For instance, you can:

  • Try a new local coffee shop
  • Go for a walk with a friend
  • Finish a home project (just make sure it’s not too physical)
  • Read a book

Hopefully, activities like these will help take your mind off your upcoming run, keep your thoughts calm, and settle any pre-race nerves.

2. Don’t race your workout

Depending on your training plan, you may or may not have a short tuneup workout during your final taper week. If you do, stay mindful of the effort and paces prescribed. If you’re starting to feel nervous, it can be easy to run too hard during this final workout. Remember, gaining fitness is not a focus this week and running too hard can jeopardize how you feel heading into race day.

Even if your training plan consists of all easy miles during race week, make sure you’re running those at a true easy effort.

3. Recite mantras

Next, reciting mantras can make a drastic difference in your mentality and the outcome of your race. You are your biggest cheerleader and what you say to yourself internally is likely what you will believe. Some examples of mantras are:

  • “Pride lasts longer than pain”
  • “Yes, I can”
  • “You’ve trained for this”

Because everyone is different, find what mantras resonate most with you and keep a few in your back-pocket in case one is needed during your race.

Related: How to Build Mental Toughness: 6 Ways Runners Build Mental Strength

4. Continue to fuel and hydrate

You might be running less but that doesn’t mean you should be eating less, especially if you’re running a distance like the half or full marathon. Continue fueling and hydrating as if you were running your typical weekly mileage and make sure you’re getting in plenty of carbohydrates, water, and electrolytes.

Related: Fueling for Running: How to Fuel and Why It’s Important

5. Plan your carb load

Also, if you’re racing either the half or full marathon, you’ll need to carb load for at least one day. It takes some planning to figure out what you’re going to eat, how much, and when. With this in mind, make a plan for your carb load and allot enough time to grocery shop.

Unsure of how many carbs to consume? Check out the Featherstone Nutrition Carb Load Calculator.

6. Prioritize recovery

As your goal run is only a few days away, recovery is extremely important. Sleep, in particular, will help your body repair, recharge, and recover so you head into race morning feeling your best. With this in mind, try going to bed early and getting as much sleep as you can.

Related: Recovery for Runners: 5 Tips to Help You Rebuild After a Run

7. Get organized

Without a doubt, race morning can be very stressful. With some extra time on your hands the days prior, plan your race morning and what your timeline will look like. What time do you need to wake up? When will you eat breakfast? How are you getting to the starting line?

Additionally, use this checklist to make sure you don’t forget to pack or bring anything to your race!

Other important details to iron out are:

  • Double checking travel plans (flights, car rentals, hotel confirmations)
  • Confirming time and location of packet pickup
  • Picking out race day clothes
  • Making sure you have enough fuel

Related: The Ultimate Marathon Checklist – Must-Haves for a Strong Race

8. Familiarize yourself with your race plan

If you’ve been following an online plan or working with a running coach, you may have a race plan to follow. Read through your plan and become familiar with the efforts and paces you’re going to run at different points of the race.

If you’ve never followed a race plan or would like to work with a coach, I would love to help you! Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.

9. Practice positive visualization

Finally, when your mind does wander to your race, stay positive. For example, imagine yourself running strong, waving and high-fiving spectators, and crossing the finish line with a smile.

Obviously, the most important aspect of the race is having fun and while it’s normal to feel nervous, remind yourself that you’ve done the training. The hard work has been completed and now it’s time to celebrate and shine on race day!

How to Prepare for a Race Recap:

Interested in Working with Elizabeth?

I would love to help you reach your running goals! Email me at [email protected] or check out my Run Coaching Services page to learn more.

Comment Below

What’s something you always do during your race week to prepare? Why?

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