How To Prepare The Week Before a Marathon


It is one week out from your marathon. You are tapering back the miles, but,

besides that: What should you be doing one week out from your marathon? 

I’m running to Mesa Marathon in Arizona a week from today. Here are the key things to focus on to prepare for marathon race day. 

1. Get sleep

2. Drink water 

3. Be nourished

4. Cut back on physical activity 

To summarize the points above: With one week to go, you should feel very rested, fed, watered, and not sleep deprived.

Point four deserves some explanation: You should cut back on physical activity to the point where you start to wonder if maybe you are gaining weight, losing muscle mass, and not getting in enough miles. Thoughts like these creep into a runner’s psyche, but they are not uncommon. If you are having these thoughts, then you are adequately tapering for your marathon. 

How Do I Prepare Mentally for Race Day?

Think about your marathon in terms of your gratitude. Spend a few minutes to feelOwner of Vander Jacket - Sarah Vander Neut thankful for having time to train. Think about how you have the physical and mental health to set a goal in the first place, and then work towards it. You are fortunate to have the freedom to run, the safety to train, and for having the support of family and friends who give you the space to run. 

As a woman, I like to think about how lucky I am to be a runner in 2023, a time when women have the freedom to dress in running clothes, the geography to make a running route, the legal system that declares my right to be safe to run, and societal expectations about women in sports make my effort to train for a marathon possible. Yep! I’m pretty lucky. Maybe you are too!

Anxious thoughts are not all bad. When we are worried about something, it lets us know that we actually care about that thing. You care about your race: You have put in so much work! You should feel a little bit anxious. My former running store boss was an elite miler in the 1980’s. I asked him when he knew it was time to stop racing. He said that one time he took his place at a starting line of a big race, and he wasn’t anxious at all! And that was when he realized it was time to move on: He didn’t care enough anymore. It is normal to feel anxious!

The Unexpected

Unexpected things will happen before your race. For example: Your hair tie snaps. Suddenly you must face the reality that you will run with your hair flapping behind you. Maybe the weather will be uncomfortable at the starting line. You didn’t imagine your race this way, but you can deal with these changes. Expect a little bit of uncontrollable circumstances. 

The most important thing is that you have already put in all the training leading up to this moment. In so many ways, the race is already almost over when you cross the START line. Enjoy the sweet reward of making it to Race Day!

Sarah Vander Neut