View of Mt Hood on long runIn this post, I’ll share what I do the last 7-10 days prior to my race and how to ensure I that I’m fresh, fit and ready for my marathon.

This post has been one of my most visited the last few months. I refer athletes whom I coach to this post to help them rest & prepare during the final weeks of training for a long race.

I also receive a lot of questions about preparations the night before the race, include requests for marathon packing checklists.  Since most races start early in the morning, it’s critical to plan everything you’ll need, including transportation and communications with family/friends prior to the race. I thought I would update my original post with information that can help runners (of all experience levels) to ensure that they have everything needed for their big race.

I recently received an e-mail with a link to her beginner’s guide to marathons from Jenny Hobbs. Jenny has completed a lot of research and put together a comprehensive Marathon Packing Checklist which I find very useful.  You’ll want to pull up this list about a week prior to your race and start assembling your day of race uniform, accessories and food/gels.  Using a list like the one provided in Jenny’s guide is real helpful to ensure you don’t miss anything.  Your comfort before, during and after the race are essential to a positive experience.  I strongly recommend that you print out this checklist and use it.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

As I wind down my training, I have found that the strategy that gets the most consistent (good) results, is to slightly reduce my volume over the last few weeks, but don’t decrease the intensity.

A month out from the race, I topped my weekly mileage at 57. Although I still completed strength & longer tempo runs in subsequent weeks, I decreased my weekly mileage by 10-15% weekly. The last week before my race, I completed some intervals/speed on a trail and a shorter tempo. I also completed strides on the track to ensure I have some faster running. This strategy that I learned when I was coached by Greg McMillian, is called “keeping the engine revved.” My weekly mileage the last week prior to the marathon was 37 miles.

These workouts in the last 1 ½ weeks stress your body, but not as much as earlier in the plan. The goal is to ensure you’re fresh, fit and ready to run on race day.


In the last 3-4 days do your best not to go hungry. This doesn’t mean you should overeat. Instead, make sure you are consuming nutritious snacks in between your healthy meals. Snacks I recommend are whole wheat bagels, bananas, avocado (to spread on toast or bagels), peanut butter and energy bars. Consume these with plenty of water. In fact, you should be drinking a lot of water (48 – 64 ozs more than you typically drink before a long run or hard workout). In the last few days before the race, you can have some sports drinks/electrolytes. Just remember, don’t overdo any eating or drinking and definitely do not consume anything that you haven’t previously tested before a long or hard run.

I don’t think you need to “carbo load” 1-2 days before the race. Instead, I recommend eating a balance of healthy fats (salmon, avocados & nuts work for me) and quality carbs (whole grain pasta with marinara, salad & whole grain bread). Substituting a few extra carbohydrates instead of protein works well for me and other runners. We don’t need to overdo it with too many carbs because your training volume has decreased slightly. Trust me, a slight increase in carbs typically works fine.

Just remember what worked during your training, should work now.

Following are my workouts for the week of June 25th.

Monday June 25th – modified Fartlek

This is not a “push it the max” workout. Instead the purpose is to get some quick leg turnover, but also not allow full recovery between reps, that’s why I call it a Modified Fartlek. I like to complete this workout on a bike or dirt trail, because I won’t push as hard as if I was on a track. This is an 8 mile workout.

1 mile warm-up at easy pace
2 x ¼ mile at 10k pace with ¼ mile modified rest (at brisk, not a slow jog)
1 x 1 mile at MP with ¼ mile rest
2 x ¼ mile at 10k pace with ¼ mile modified rest (brisk)
2 x ¼ mile at 10k pace with ¼ mile modified rest (brisk)
1 x 1 mile at MP with ¼ mile rest
2 x ¼ mile at 10k pace with ¼ mile modified rest (brisk)
1 mile cool down at easy pace

You can see the mile splits below. This is a hard workout, but it’s not meant to be very demanding. It’s important to not go too slow in between the 1/4 & 1 mile intervals.

Modified Fartlek for Marathon Training

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 8.0 miles, 1:00:23 minutes, ave pace 7:32

Tuesday June 26th – Treadmill @ Easy Pace + Conditioning Exercises

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 5 miles, 40 minutes, ave pace 8:00

Wednesday June 27th – Treadmill @ easy pace

Very limited time to run today due to business travel. I completed 4 miles @ easy pace on a treadmill. The purpose of this run was just to get in something.

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 4 miles, 32:00 minutes, ave pace 8:00

Thursday June 28th – Off Day

Rest & Recovery Day – Business Travel

Friday June 29th – Short Tempo

1 mile warm-up @ easy
4 mile tempo @ 6:50 – 7:00/mile pace
3 mile cool down @ easy

Run Distance, Time & Average Pace: 8 miles, 1:00:46 minutes, ave pace 7:32

Saturday June 30th – Easy Run + Strides – recovery

Strides are to practice quick leg turnover & keep the “engine revved.”

Run Distance, Time, & Average Pace: 6.1 miles, 51:36 minutes, ave pace 8:25

Sunday July 1st – Easy Run – recovery

The purpose of today’s run was more easy running. Recovery, just lower volume

Run Distance, Time, Pace: 6.1 miles, 49:18 minutes, ave pace 8:00

Weekly total = 37.3 Miles