How to train just before a marathon

How should you train in the week before a marathon?

When you’re approaching the final weeks of training before your first marathon, think about how you’ll train in the final week before the race. It might be tempting to go all out and squeeze in one more long run but that may actually be detrimental to your race day performance.

Should I run the week before my marathon?

By this point the majority of the hard work is done and your aim is to get your body in peak condition for race day. Use the last two-three weeks to taper your runs down, allowing your body to recover, gain strength and build reserves for the big day. By the time you’re at the seven day countdown, it’s the rest more than the work that makes you strong.


  • Levels of glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants and hormones – all of which are depleted during training – return to optimal ranges during a taper
  • Any muscle damage that occurred during sustained training has time to repair
  • Levels of immunity and muscle strength increase reducing the likelihood of you becoming unwell before the race

All of this can translate into a five-ten minute reduction in your finish time.

Don’t stop running altogether, though You want to keep your muscles in the habit of running.When it comes to how far and how often you should run in the week before a marathon, there are a few factors at play.

How much do you run now?

A general rule of thumb is to reduce your run load to about a third of your usual volume in the last week. This keeps your body conditioned but not under stress. Your running style (typical distance, speed and frequency) will influence how appropriate this figure is for you. It’s a good guide to work from.

When should you stop?

It’s typically recommended to stay off the track the day before the marathon. Some elite athletes even take two days off completely prior to the run. Whatever you do, don’t schedule anything strenuous on those last couple of days. You don't want to arrive trying to recover from previous training.

Too little too late

...Or should we say too much too late? Don’t try to catch up or power through.

Some runners fear they haven’t covered enough ‘long run’ miles and try to squeeze an extra one in close to the race. You’ll just end up depleted and vulnerable to poor performance on race day.. A gentle reduction in training will see your best performance on the day of the marathon. Studies have shown that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness doesn’t change at all across three weeks of tapering.

Suggest training schedule for penultimate week

  • Sunday: run your final long runMonday: take a short 5 mile run, go easy
  • Tuesday OR Wednesday: try some short interval training
  • Thursday: another short run, only 3-4 miles
  • Friday: short 2-3 miles or rest
  • Saturday: short 2-3 miles MAX – consider resting entirely
  • Sunday: Race Day – good luck!

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