The Final week leading to race day

What does the final week before your goal race look like? Everyone is different when it comes to those final 2 weeks before their goal race, but here’s a quick look at what my final week looks like for my half marathon attempt on Saturday.
 
Usually I have 2 rest days, which is enough for me since I usually train 7 days a week. If you train less, you may need an extra rest day. Usually I’ll have one rest day 5 days before and 2 days before, but my work schedule isn’t ideal this week, so I’ve had to adjust. Why not rest all week? You want to get the engine purring, don’t let it get cold and definitely don’t over rev it. You won’t be gaining any fitness this week, this is purely about having the legs feeling fresh and loose, ready to go for race day.
 
 

Monday would normally be my rest day for a Saturday race, but I simply won’t have time this Tuesday, so this will be my final mini speed workout. Think of this as a dress rehearsal for the big day. Try to go through your same warm up routine and wear the same clothes, shoes that you’ll use on race day. I find this helps me relax more race day and makes me feel more confident going into my routine on race day. If your schedule is flexible enough, even try to do this run at the same time as your race start time to help the body and mind familiarize itself for the race. I’ve opted for 3*mile, running the mile in my goal half marathon pace intended for Saturday’s race, with 2min recoveries between each rep. This helps me get a final feel for that race pace, while giving myself plenty of recovery and not overloading myself with intensity or miles. Finish off with a nice cool down.

Tuesday would normally be my final short speed check, but I moved that to Monday because of my work schedule so today will be a lovely rest day. I might do a relaxing 30min cycle if I need to unwind from work, but it’s not necessary.

Wednesday is a nice and easy light run, a couple of miles shorter than my usual run. This is just simply to get some miles in the legs, keep the engine fired up, but not over work the bod

3*mile Final Workout at just under Half Marathon Pace
Thursday will be another rest day. I normally feel super antsy at this point, and that’s completely normal, but the key here is discipline. I know I will want to go out and run some extra miles with all that bundled up energy inside of me, but I WON’T! I’ll follow the plan and know that this is a good feeling to have and a sign that my body is ready to race! I’ll likely throw in some yoga for 10-15min max at some point during the day, using something like this easy to follow video from Fitness Blender.
 
At this point, a couple of days before race day, I make an extra conscious effort to hydrate. I’m usually pretty good with hydrating and carrying a water bottle around with me while teaching and coaching, but I don’t like to leave anything to chance.
"I'll leave some notes on my desk or even ask my students to remind me to take on some fluids throughout the day. Don't over hydrate (that can have negative consequences), just maybe an extra glass or 2 spread throughout the day.
Mike McMillen
Coach and Athlete
Friday (Pre-race day) – I try to get this final run in late in the afternoon or early evening. I’ll do parts of my warm up routine such as the lunge matrix, and then get into some very relaxed easy miles. Towards the end I’ll throw in 3-4 strides (20-30 second bursts at around my 10k pace) just to give my legs a gentle reminder that they can’t rest on their laurels as they’ll need to be moving quickly tomorrow morning. I like to add in some final stretches either with my usual strength and mobility exercises as mentioned in my previous blog post or follow the same yoga routine such from yesterday. This is just a final attempt to keep the body loose and lubricated ready for the big day.
 
My pre-race meal varies, but I try to keep it light and simple. I generally avoid creamy sauces, or greasy food as they can be difficult to digest. I try to keep my meal balanced in terms of protein, carbs, and fats, but I will slightly increase my carb intake just to keep those glycogen stores topped up for race day. I” be cooking and eating this delicious penne, prosciutto, tomato, zucchini dish this time and you should definitely give it a try at some point! Since the New Year I’ve been avoiding meat, so I’ll sub out the prosciutto and replace it with something like an avocado. 
 
Sleep the night before a race is usually a struggle for me as I tend to overthink and end up checking I’ve correctly packed everything I needed (usually at least 3 times 🤣). I’ve have recently started using the Calm app to help calm the nerves and soothe me to sleep and I’ve noticed it has helped so I’ll plan to stick with that this time.
Check Out Calm.com for help with sleep, anxiety, rleaxing, focus!
Saturday (RACE DAY) – My stomach can be pretty sensitive so I like to eat a light breakfast 2 hours before the race start. My usual go-to options are homemade chocolate banana bread or creamy peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches (I use plain white bread as it digests much easier than whole wheat, and won’t leave me feeling bloated) along with a banana. I’ll also top up the fluids after a good sleep with a glass or 2 of water. Enough to keep me hydrated but don’t overdo it or you’ll do more harm than good. 
 
This race is down in Greenville, SC, a 2 hour drive away. Ideally I would head down the night before, but I’m coaching soccer until late and I’m not sure I could justify $100 on accommodation to my wife, especially after the 2 new pairs of shoes I just picked up from Omega Sports (Post coming soon!). Instead I’ll be car pooling it down with fellow CLT runner, Mike Mitchell.
 
Once all situated I’ll start my warm up about 40 minutes before the start. Do 2-3 miles as an easy jog, followed by some dynamic stretches and a set of matrix lunges. About this time I’ll need to do one last pit stop at the loo, before finishing off with some strides. At the start line, I’ll get in some extra stretches while waiting for the starting signal and just spend a couple of minutes visualizing the race, what I will expect to feel, and how I will want to feel during it as well as just giving myself a gentle reminder that if I hit a difficult patch, I know I have enough to get through it. Last of all, just appreciate the moment and be grateful for the opportunity to move freely and race. Oh and don’t forget to get that GPS signal on your watch set!

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