Cardio • 09.04.2016 • Herwig Natmessnig

The Last 7 Days Are Crucial to Running a PB on Race Day

Do you know the Ted Corbitt quote, “If you can’t run as fast as you want to, you haven’t rested enough?” There is a lot of truth to this saying. The main thing right before a race is recovery. Tapering refers to lowering your training volume and replenishing your energy stores. Plus, you should make sure to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to the big race, and, if possible, try to schedule an easy week at work. And don’t forget to download the Runtastic Running & Fitness app so you have the perfect tool to track your training and race.

Two friends running at the beach.

Many runners make the following mistakes during the last week of their race prep:

1. Training too much before the race
Many amateur runners think it is a good idea to train hard right up until the race, particularly in the last few weeks. But these efforts turn out to be counterproductive. Standing at the start feeling tired is pretty much a recipe for disaster. That’s why you should decrease your training volume by 30-50% of your normal mileage in the last week. In general, your training volume depends on your training age, your current performance level and the distance of the race.

2. Not working out at all
Tapering and reducing training volumes does not mean you should just put your feet up and stop working out. The tricky part about tapering is not to lose the fitness and pace endurance you have built up. The best way to avoid this is by reducing your mileage and focusing on short and intense workout sessions.

In the last week, it is important to get one more hard workout in four or five days before the race. This is designed to give your muscles one last training stimulus and to prepare your body for the demands of the upcoming race.

3. Strength training and unfamiliar exercises
In the last days before a race, you should avoid strength training and unfamiliar exercises. Fatigued and/or sore muscles can quickly endanger your desired time. Of course, you should continue to do stretching and mobilization exercises. But these are only a good idea if they have been regular part of your training for a while.

Close up image of a group of friends running at the beach.

The last week before the race – Here’s how to do it right!
In general, the details of your workouts in the last week before the race depend heavily on your performance level, your training age, the distance of the race and the time you want to achieve.

We have put together the following lists to give you an idea of what your preparation might look like in the last seven days before the big race.

Six or seven days before the race

  • Slow long-distance run:
    5K: 30-45 min
    10K: 30-45 min
    Half-marathon: 40-60 min
    Marathon: 40-60 min

Four or five days before the race

  • Interval training:
    5K: 10 min warm-up jog / 5 x 3 min at 5K goal pace with 3 min jogging rest / 10 min cool-down jog
    10K: 10 min warm-up jog / 4 x 5 min at 10K goal pace with 3 min jogging rest in between / 10 min cool-down jog
  • Tempo run:
    Half-marathon: 10 min warm-up jog / 3-5 km at half-marathon goal pace / 10 min cool-down jog
    Marathon: 10 min warm-up jog / 5 km at marathon goal pace / 5-10 min cool-down jog

Man running outside.

One or two days before the race

  • Slow long-distance run followed by accelerations (gradually increase your pace over a short distance of about 100 m until you reach a submaximal (90%) sprint):
    5K: 10-15 min / 3-5 accelerations
    10K: 10-15 min / 3-5 accelerations
    Half-marathon: 20-30 min / 2-4 accelerations
    Marathon: 20-30 min / 2-3 accelerations

Race day
So it’s time. You’re well-prepared, feel great and are ready to run a new PB. But many runners forget the most important factor for achieving their race goal: Improve your race performance by warming up properly before the start!

To get a more detailed idea of what your warm-up might look like for the different race distances (5K, 10K, half-marathon or marathon), check out our blog post on warming up properly.

Do you have a race coming up? We wish you good luck and a lot of fun.

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Herwig Natmessnig

As a former professional athlete (white-water slalom), Herwig lives and breathes health and fitness. Whether in competition or just for fun, he can never turn down a physical challenge. And with his enthusiasm, the sports scientist feels right at home at Runtastic.
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