Race Week Workouts


Happy hump day! This week is flying by, and I am so confused as to what day it is since we were off on Monday. Pleasantly surprised it’s already Wednesday!

Yesterday we picked some blackberries…and took the day off from working out. You see, we have a half marathon on Sunday, and I am not quite sure exactly what the “rule” is on workouts the week of a race. I can only tell you what I have done in the past, but have no idea if I am right or wrong. Typically, this is what I do the week of a race that is on a Sunday.

Sunday: off (long run was the day before)

Monday: Run, speed or intervals 3-5 miles weights

Tuesday: weights, cross train

Wednesday: run, 3 miles easy, weights, yoga

Thursday: cross train

Friday: off

Saturday: off

Sunday: Race


This is a loose estimation of my workouts of course, but I generally don’t do much. My running after Monday is slow or non existent, and I drop off the weights after Wednesday and take two full days off to rest before the big day. With it being race week, I got to thinking about what the correct way to do things would be.

This Running Times article suggests you should maintain the same pace you always run for workouts, just dial down the volume.

Active suggests a wide mix of things, but tells you to actually rest on rest days.

This website suggests not doing too much for risk of doing more harm than good.

competitor recommends tapering and keeping your workouts as “race specific” as possible.

This Runner’s World article calls for high intensity workouts just not as many or as long.

I couldn’t really find much on yoga or weight lifting the week of a race, so I just taper as I would my running for the most part.


So, who is right? Is rest better or race pace high intensity, but shorter workouts better? To taper or not to taper? Does length of race matter? (5k vs. marathon?) What about running up until the day before the race? It’s one of those crazy “everyone has an opinion” issues, and I think part of it comes down to what personally works for you. This will be my 12th half marathon, so I have gained some experience in what personally works for me…but I wonder if I could perform better if I did something a bit different. Interesting food for thought.


QOTD: What do you do as far as workouts the week of a big race?

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14 Responses to Race Week Workouts

  1. 1

    I tend to taper by just lowering my running intensity. I’ll do one last long run the week before then run 2 more times. I’ve followed the Smart Coach plan and really liked that for tapering b/c you’re still running. I try not to run 2 days before the race, but will still maintain easy elliptical and weights (no legs though) with total rest day before. But maybe it’s more about figuring out what works best for you since everyone is really different?

  2. 2
    Leah says:

    I’m pretty much doing the same as you. I ran 6 on Monday and will run 4 today. I do have BoxMania tomorrow. I hope it isn’t too much. Last week was my first time and I was sore for days. I’m not going for time though on this half, just fun.
    What I really want is some of those purple compression socks. Running Skirts socks are my favorite, but they never have them in purple anymore. They would great with my mums skirt and purple shirt on Sunday. I will stalk you and find you on Sunday. Are you going for a PR? My PR is 2:18, so I am just going to try to stay close and run about a 10:35-10:40 pace. The heat and humidity is usually bad, but we shall see.

  3. 3
    Tara Burner says:

    I haven’t had a big race…. *sigh*
    but am soaking in all the info for when I do

  4. 4

    I’m not a master of this by any means but I definitely taper in the last week, allowing myself to rest. I find that’s how I arrive refreshed and ready to go race day.

  5. 5
    Amy Lauren says:

    Typically, when I take two rest days before a race, I tend to do better. I think it’s because after two days of not running, I’m really anxious to run and want to go, go, go, and that’s not a bad thing at a race. I do try to take little walks or be active on those days, just no hardcore gym activity. Not sure about yoga since I just started working that into my routine…

    Personally… I say do what you’ve been doing and listen to your body. Some people run the day before a big race even… then again I know people who run like 2 times a week and seem to race really well. Plus I guess it’s different if you want to PR a race, have a goal, or just do it for fun, too.

  6. 6
    Megan says:

    This is always hard for me too! I know there is a reason behind the taper madness – and usually it does help that my legs are nice and fresh before a race! I tend to stay on the elliptical as it’s easy on my joints – yet gives me a good sweat. Good luck on #12!

  7. 7

    You are right – this is one of those topics where EVERYONE has a different opinion!
    I tend to follow a mix of a few of the sites you listed. I typically will keep to my workouts that I have been doing – so usually tempo/fartleks on Tuesdays and speed/interval on Thursdays. I’ll do the same intensity but just do much less mileage – I try to keep it about 30-40% of my usual mileage!
    I will also throw in an extra day off 2 weeks before and 1 week before. I find that the extra rest days makes my leg fresh. I typically don’t run 2 days out from a race, but I have gone on shakeout runs the day before if my legs felt a little tight. These are usually no more than 2 miles and super slow – just something to loosen the legs up!
    Great post – I’m interested to read all the comments =)

  8. 8
    LifeisaRun says:

    Think you also have to consider where you are in your running when it comes to tapering before a race. We’ve done 10 half marathons and have our 11th this weekend. This weekend will be our 3rd half in a month. Plus we’ve done back to back halfs before so our bodies are use to that distance. Neither of us are just all our racing this weekend as it’s starting to get hot in Texas but we don’t do a full fledge week of taper these days before a half. We do make sure we aren’t doing workouts that will leave us sore for days that our muscles aren’t recovered by race day.

  9. 9
    Heather says:

    I definitely dial down the intensity and keep my runs shorter so that my legs are fresh on race day.
    Good luck!

  10. 10
    Jen says:

    I tend to do the same thing you do, and it’s what I followed last week before PRing in my half: M: short, hard run, Tu: short, easy run, W: OFF, Th: short, easy run F: OFF, Sat: race, Sun: easy swim recovery. I also lifted Mon and Tues. This seemed to work for me! I have another 1/2 this Sat so I’ve been approaching this week a bit differently. I’m not doing any speed work since I’m trying to recover as quickly as possible.

    Great post! :)

  11. 11

    I definitely taper before a half marathon. I don’t do weights the week before, but I’ll do yoga. I follow a pretty similar routine to yours but I run about 2 miles the day before the race to warm up my legs a little.

  12. 12
    misszippy says:

    I think tapering is hugely individual. I have friends who hardly do it at all, even for a marathon. Then there’s me–I like to cut back on miles overall, but maintain some speed work to keep the legs moving. So this week, leading up to the marathon, I did 6 miles on Tues, with 2 at MP, four miles easy today, three on Fri, off on Sat., then 2 miles easy on Sunday, the day before.

    It takes some time to figure it all out for each person. Good luck this weekend!

  13. 13
    Carrie says:

    Interesting links. I usually run easy in my taper, but I don’t have a reason for doing so. This post makes me think that perhaps I should put more though into this.

  14. 14
    Laura says:

    Isn’t it amazing how many different opinions there are? My final week of taper looks very similar to yours. I usually cut back both mileage and intensity, and might do a few pick-ups, but not a full interval or tempo workout– I keep runs really easy. I’m now experimenting with shorter runs, I’m racing a 5k Sat and haven’t tapered at all… might need an extra day or two of easy or rest to make sure my legs are fresh. The half and full marathon scare me into tapering a lot more!

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