Training for a marathon is never easy, but if you have a schedule down and an idea of what you need to do, it certainly helps. The trickiest part of training, though, isn’t all of the long runs and intensive build-up. Nope. It’s actually the tapering the week before your race. When you go from having scheduled runs to realizing you need rest—but you also don’t want to stop running altogether—it can be difficult to figure what exactly you should be doing.
If you find yourself facing this conundrum, here are 10 things to do the week leading up to you marathon:
Obviously, rest is ridiculously important just before you attempt the intense physical feat that is running a marathon. So try to get an extra hour or two of sleep each night during the week before the race. Chances are you’ll be too anxious or excited to sleep well on the night before—which is completely normal—so it helps to have some extra hours in so you’re not totally exhausted.
Eat mostly normally
While it is important to eat some extra calories each day and to up your carbohydrate intake a little bit, don’t go overboard. You still need fats and proteins. So eat as you have throughout your training and maybe add a little extra carbs as a side to get that extra boost. There’s no need to eat all pasta all the time.
The best way to fight dehydration during a marathon? Hydrate well the week before. You’ll have more energy and you’ll feel much better during and after the race.
Run a little
You don’t want to go overboard, because you’re going to need all of the energy you can muster during your race, but it is a good idea to run a few miles during the week to keep your legs nice and loose. This also isn’t the time to try to improve your speed. Do not run the day before your race.
Visualize your race
Maybe it sounds a little hokey, but it’s a good idea to picture how you’d like your race to go at specific mile markers. Think about you are going to feel at mile 6, mile 10, mile 22, etc. Be positive but also realistic.
Choose a few “brick wall” mantras
In a 26.2-miler, you’re going to have a few mental low moments when the distance of the race feels much longer and more difficult. The truth is you’ve trained for this and you’re prepared, which is exactly the kind of thing you’ll need to tell yourself in those rough moments. Just keep going and keep your spirit up.
Assemble your crew
When you possess the physical strength to run a marathon, the most helpful thing during the actual race, the thing that will keep you going when your mind starts to battle you, is going to be the support of your friends and family. Make sure you tell your friend where you’ll need them most, so when you get to those points in the course, you know you’ll have some friendly faces.
Prepare your things
Make sure you get all of your things together a few days before the race so you won’t forget anything. Lay out your race clothes, pack your snack packs if you’re going to run with something (or make sure your buddies have them ready for you) and get everything you’re going to need together. Make sure your music playlist, if you choose to run with one, is both long enough and has enough upbeat songs to keep you going.
Figure out where you need to be
Make sure you know where the course goes and, most importantly, where the start line is before the morning of your race day. You’ll want to get there with plenty of time to spare, so plan your travel to the start line ahead of time.
Try to relax
One of the hardest things about a pre-marathon week is the anxiety and nerves. So try to relax and don’t obsess. While it’s important to visualize and get everything together, it’s also important that you don’t let your nerves exhaust you. A marathon is tough, but you’re tougher.