Marathon Race Week To-Do List

This is part of a series of posts I’m doing focused on marathon training. To get “The .2” posts in your inbox, sign-up here!


Full disclosure — I’m a planner. If something in my life MIGHT benefit from a to-do list or a spreadsheet, there is going to BE a to-do list or a spreadsheet. So what I’ve put together below might seem like overkill (or obvious) to some people. But here is my justification on why this list is important:


1) You’ve spent 3 or 4 or 6 months preparing for your marathon. Do you really want to risk it not going well because you forgot something simple in the final week?


2) I talk a lot with the people that I coach about the idea that “stress is stress” — your body doesn’t really distinguish between different types of stress. This list can be a way of taking at least some of the stress out of your marathon week, leaving your body more ready to race.


On to the list …


Monday — Confirm travel arrangements


This goes early in the week because you want some advance warning on any travel issues. If the race is out of town, this can include:


  • Flights
  • Hotel
  • Rental car
  • Restaurant reservations (very important!)


And whether the race is out of town or right at home, you’ll want to nail down your transportation to and from the race — noting any potential road closures or parking issues.


Tuesday — Dress rehearsal run


This will be your last “workout” before the race. The running itself is not particularly strenuous:


  • 1-2 miles easy
  • 2-3 miles at goal marathon pace to get a feel of the pace
  • 1-2 miles easy


The important thing about this workout, though, is to give your race morning plan one final test. Do your best to get up the same time you will on race day, eat the same breakfast you’re planning to eat on race day, wear the same clothes, socks, and shoes you’ll wear on race day, and start the workout at the same time as the race. This gives you a good chance to work out any last minute kinks and fine-tune things.


Wednesday — Laundry and shopping


Now that you’ve done your dress rehearsal run, wash your race clothes and get them ready to be packed. You want to avoid any frantic, last-minute laundry before you leave town.


This is also a good day to swing by the running store and pick up any gels, body-glide, or any other last minute items. If you’re running a big race the expo MIGHT have the items you’re used to using, but better to stock up beforehand and be sure.


Thursday — Confirm expo and race details


If it’s been awhile since you’ve checked out the race website, this is a good time to make sure that you’re familiar with all the quirks of your race. In particular, make sure you know details on:


  • Packet pick-up
  • Expo hours
  • When you need to be at corral / start line
  • Bag check
  • Course and aid station placement


This is also a good day to take a rest / recovery day if you’re planning to take a day off from training this week.


Friday — Shakeout run


The work is done, your travel is done, time to get the legs loosened up a little bit and work some nerves. Keep this around 2-4 miles with a few light strides at the end. Pace should be very relaxed and allow yourself to think about race day and visualize how you’ll feel and how you want to approach the race.


Saturday — Race! (and walk)


The race is pretty self-explanatory. That afternoon, though, make sure to get out and walk around for 20-30 minutes at least. This will keep blood flowing through your muscles and help the repair process get started, as well as keep you from getting too stiff. Your legs will thank you tomorrow.


Sunday — Focus on recovery work


This will include another 20-40 min walk, some light foam rolling / stretching, maybe some time in the pool, or even a massage. Make sure that you’re eating well and hydrating well — your body has a lot of repair work that it needs fuel for!


About Coach Carl
Coach Carl is a USA Track & Field Level 2 endurance coach who works with runners of all ability levels to reach their goals. He has been featured in Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Competitor. For information on his coaching services, click here.