Dress Rehearsal Run

Tapering for a marathon or half-marathon is a pretty individual thing. Each runner reacts to stress and rest differently and the recipe for a great race will be different from runner to runner.


But, there is one ingredient that EVERY runner needs to include the week of their race: the Dress Rehearsal run.


Just like with a play, the goal of a Dress Rehearsal run is to limit the surprises when you get ready to do the real thing. So it’s important to make sure that you simulate the race as closely as you can. At a minimum you want to make sure that you:


  • Wear the same shoes you’ll wear on race day
  • Wear the same clothes (including socks) you’ll wear on race day


But I encourage you to go a little bit deeper than that and see if you can include:


  • The same type of dinner you’re planning to eat the night before
  • The same wake-up time as the race
  • The same breakfast you’ll eat on race day
  • The same start time as the race
  • The same type of elevation profile you’ll run on race day


This may seem like overkill, but if there is something that will cause problems (chaffing, blisters, stomach issues, etc.), you are MUCH better off finding out about before you start the race!


The Dress Rehearsal run is not a difficult run. It should include a few easy miles to warm-up, some miles at your goal pace, and some easy miles at the end. Usually I would recommend something like the following:


Marathon = 2 miles easy, 3 miles at goal pace, 1-2 miles easy
Half-marathon = 2 miles easy, 2 miles at goal pace, 1 mile easy


Since it isn’t an overly difficult run, you don’t need to worry too much about recovering before the race. It’s best to do it on a Tuesday or Wednesday (whatever day you’re used to doing speed work) and use it as your final speed workout.


Completing the Dress Rehearsal run also allows you to stay more relaxed in the days leading up to your race knowing that you’ve already tested your race-day plan.


Although there is no way to tell what difficulties will come up in the course of a 13 or 26 mile race, including a Dress Rehearsal run in the final week of your training will make sure to keep the surprises to a minimum!


Note: The Dress Rehearsal run is generally too short to test out hydration and fueling strategies for the race. These are best practiced in the final 3-4 long runs of your training plan so that there is time to try different options and see what you’ll react to best.