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Race week is here. All your training is done and now it’s time to rest those legs, calm those nerves and soon go crush it out there. But how much should you actually run during the week leading up to your race?
Read more about how to taper in the weeks leading up to your race here: How to Taper to Maximize Your Race Performance
The goal is to be ready for race day come the weekend, with fresh legs itching to go, but without feeling sluggish or slow from not running as much during your taper. How you get there is of course personal, but it’s ultimately all about finding a balance between adding in extra rest days and keeping some good leg stretchers in there to maintain that desirable feeling of being fast. The last thing you want on race day – especially for shorter races – is to lose your hard earned confidence that you indeed can keep the pace up. With that said, you don’t want to put yourself at any injury risk or tire yourself out, so keep this type of work to a minimum. This is mostly for your head, as speedwork during the very last week leading up the race will have little physical benefit.
Keys to Race Week
Low Volume – Don’t focus on total kilometers run during your race week. Instead, throw in an extra rest day and keep your runs short and easy, no more than 5-10k. If you find you run better without taking any extra rest days, that’s fine too – just keep your runs short. You don’t want to tire out your legs here, but instead just keep them warm and ready.
Some Speed – You’ll want to throw some speed in there as well, but keep the harder work short and not too intense. The intent is not for physical adaptation but to maintain the feeling of being fast. If you’re running a road half or full marathon, for example, where you are aiming for a specific time goal, you would do these sessions at your race pace.
Shake it Out – 15-30 min easy the day before the race, with a short section of faster running to stretch the legs out. This can be done as strides, a 1-2k tempo, or some fartlek. The idea is to let loose any pre-race nerves you have and bring in the feel good vibes.
Rest – We like to get in a full rest day two days out from your race. So the day before your shake out run, take a full rest day. If you still want to “do something”, focus on self-care.
Self-Care – Focus on getting your muscles ready for your race effort and try to work out any problem areas. Do some extra stretching and self-massage. A sweet goal can be to at least three times during race week put the yoga mat out and stretch, roll and massage. Take care of those muscles! We like to dedicate some extra time every evening during race week to do some self-care and spend some time with our trusty friend the tennis ball. But keep things gentle!
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Example Race Weeks
Monday: Easy 5k
Tuesday: Rest (or easy 3k)
Wednesday: 7k w/ 3k at race pace
Friday: 20 min shake out w/ 5 min at race pace
Saturday: 42k race
Monday: Easy 10k
Tuesday: Rest (or easy 5k)
Wednesday: 8k w/ 4k tempo
Friday: 30 min shake out w/ 4x 20 second strides
Saturday: 100k race
Note: If you are running a longer ultra and won’t be pushing the pace, consider dropping all speedy elements of your race week training runs. The added injury risk isn’t worth the benefit, especially if you won’t need to tap into that speed during your race at all.
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