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The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - Marathon Build Up (Final Week)

The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - Marathon Build Up (Final Week)

It’s race week and all the hard work is done but that doesn’t mean you can do what you like over the next few days. Follow these simple tips for what to do and more importantly what not to do and you can ensure you don’t fall at the final hurdle! 


  • Enjoy the final week of the taper. “Taper Madness” and paranoia aren’t compulsory! I see so many runners who get grumpy during the taper and most of the time it is just because they think they should. If you have been training hard for the last few months then it’s time to enjoy the downtime, you’ve earned it.
  • Stay away from “high risk” environments where colds and germs are flying about. Anti-social behaviour is encouraged for the week and if you really must go out in public then make sure you take some anti-bacterial hand gel with you to use at regular intervals.
  • Tuesday or Wednesday is an ideal time for one last mini speed session. I would suggest either 2 miles at marathon pace or 2 x 1 mile at half marathon pace if you want something a little faster, either session should be complemented with a couple of easy miles jogging either side.
  • Focus on hydration. If like me you are generally not great at drinking plain water, make a concerted effort this week to supplement your normal choice of beverage with some plain old H20. Realising you are dehydrated the night before the race is too late to do anything about it.
  • Look back at all the hard work you have put in with a quick review of your training logs. Remember those long runs and sessions that went really well and get yourself in a positive frame of mind. 


  • Eat too much. Be aware of your food intake especially Monday through to Wednesday when there’s no need to be “carb loading” and you’ll need less calories due to the cut-back in training. With all the extra time on your hands you may find yourself snacking when bored so keep it under control, have a glass of water instead to help with the hydration!
  • Replace all your running time with other labour intensive tasks. Save the DIY job list for the week after the marathon and just find yourself a series on Netflix to binge watch instead, the sofa is your best friend for the next 6 days.
  • “Plod” all your short runs. Stop yourself from feeling stale by keeping a nice tempo to your taper runs. Keeping things slower than race pace but faster than your normal easy runs will help to keep away all the phantom niggles away which sometimes crop up in the final week.
  • Spend race weekend sight-seeing if you are in a new city. Eight hours on your feet the day before the marathon will have a serious impact on your race performance, this also includes doing 40 laps of the Expo. Don’t hang around or linger, get back to the sofa as soon as possible!
  • PANIC!! Quite simply, if you’ve done the training then race day will take care of itself as long as you have set yourself a sensible target and don’t go off like a lunatic. If you haven’t done the training…..then lower your expectations for race day and you can still enjoy yourself. 

And that’s it, like most things relating to marathon running, it’s not rocket science.

Remind yourself: When you get to the start line that 95% of your journey is complete.

Making it to race day in one piece is the real challenge so it’s now time to cash in all that hard work and training for the next few hours. When it gets really tough in the last 10K, just remind yourself of all the sacrifices you’ve made over the last few months to get to this point, it’s time to dig deep and finish off the job!


Knowing what to do for a marathon warm up can be really tricky, you’ve already got 26.2 miles to do so the thought of adding any more to that doesn’t sound like a sensible idea!

Depending on the race and the start area it can also be tricky finding anywhere to run so the best strategy is normally to just do a few “strides” at your planned race pace.

This just means finding somewhere you can run 50-100m in a straight line and running back and forth opening up your stride and accelerating to race pace but focusing on form rather than pushing too hard. Anywhere up to 10 repetitions will be sufficient with some standing recovery time in between each one. 


Post Race Celebrations

I won’t lie, I have a bit of a reputation for being in the pub within 30 minutes of finishing a target marathon!

What you won’t see though is that straight after a race I do actually recover from the effort with slightly more appropriate nutritional items.

Ensuring you have some quality carbs, fat and protein in your drop bag which you can get at quickly after the race can make a real difference to the speed of your recovery.

Once I’ve got them down me I’m then able to head for the pub for the real “rehydration” process to begin!

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