If you’ve been training for an upcoming fall marathon, you’ve done all the hard work by now. For the week before the big race, your focus should be on using those last seven days to let your body rest, and to get well-fueled and well-hydrated. There is no training that you can do during this week which will help you on race day–there’s just not enough time for your body to recover and adapt. All you can do by training hard this week is tire yourself out, so take it easy.
You can run 3-4 miles two to three times this week. Run these short workouts hard, though; you want to keep your leg turnover sharp. But don’t run at all the final two days before the race; it’s not worth the risk of being sluggish or sore on race day.
During the last day before the race, try to stay off your feet as much as possible–this is not the time to go strolling through the mall, or doing any sightseeing. Save that for after the race, or do it earlier in the week.
Eating and drinking is also very important in the days before the race. You should eat healthy foods–always a good idea anyway–stick with lean meats, pasta, and vegetables. During the last two days before the race, avoid heavy foods and new foods; don’t eat anything you haven’t tried before. Also, keep it simple. Maybe that Thai restaurant looks and smells great, but if something you eat disagrees with you during mile 16, you’ll be sorry you gave in to temptation.
You should also use this time to hydrate your body. Carry a water bottle around with you, and keep sipping during the course of each day during the final week. Hydration is an on-going process; to do it correctly, you should start well before getting to the starting line.
It’s also important to get as much sleep as you can during this week, especially during the last few nights before the race. It’s very common to sleep very little during the final night, since you might be so excited and nervous about the marathon, but if you’ve slept well the night before that last night, then a bad night’s sleep just before the race won’t ruin you. In fact, you’ll likely be so pumped up with adrenaline that you won’t even notice that you only slept two or three hours that final night.