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Although the race itself will involve, at most, only a few hours of focused effort, the several days leading up to it can be stressful.
Many runners have their trigger fingers too close to the panic button in the final stretch leading up to the big race. The questions you thought were answered weeks ago are inevitably beginning to arise again, and at the worst possible time: Did I train hard enough? Should I have done one more long run? What will I drink on race day? Do my shoes have too many miles on them? No matter how many miles you’ve run or how many times you’ve rehearsed the race in your head, uncertainties always seem to find a way to arise during race week.
Nerves are normal, especially as race day gets closer and the doubts start slipping in. The key to thriving during race week, and the race itself, however, is as simple as trusting your training. Remember, no one workout between now and race day is going to make you any more fit than you are today. You’ve got a few months of solid work under your belt from which to draw strength and confidence—there’s no need to cram in any “extra” workouts. If anything, overdoing it is more of a concern than underdoing it this week. Now is the time to rest your body and your mind.
The main goal of race-week workouts is to strike a balance between resting and keeping the ball rolling (if you’re not used to taking days off in training, now is not the time to start doing it!). The ultimate objective is to arrive at the starting line feeling calm and confident that you’re ready to run your best on race day.
While you think ahead to race day this week, don’t forget to look back too, reflecting on the weeks of preparation that got you to this point. Think about the progression you’ve made as a runner during this period. In the time since you first decided to commit yourself to training for this event, you’ve covered hundreds of miles, dialed in your projected race pace with laserlike precision, learned the basics of good fueling, and broken in your shoes. There’s nothing left to do at this point except run the race.
Of course, you still need to get through the seven exciting, nerve-racking days before the race. Knowing what to expect can help keep you calm. Your training plan lays out these workouts, but I’ve included some details in the following sections, along with strategies for fine-tuning your mental fitness and fueling in the week before you step on the starting line.