race week

This is part 12 of my 12-week marathon training series. This will coach you through your marathon build up, week by week. These guidelines will work for the majority of runners. Runners at the extreme ends of the spectrum will need to modify.

In the 12 weeks this Marathon Training Series has been going on, I've had questions about which week is which. Some runners start their weeks on Sunday, some on Mondays.  I like to include the run the day before the long run as a part of the training week, but that will be different for everyone, so it starts to get confusing!

Some people call the last full week before the race "week one" and the six days before the marathon "race week."  To keep things simple, I'm going to talk about the last 13 days before your race together here, assuming your long run was 14 days out and you will run your final long run 7 days out.

Marathon Training Week 1 & Race Week: Mileage and Intensity

In the last full week from your race, you will want to be scheduling a couple goal marathon pace (GMP) workouts to really burn the feeling of race pace in your memory.  One can be 5-6 miles (8-10k) and the second might be the same distance, just broken up into 2 intervals with a minute or two of jogging in between.  Of course, don't forget to include a mile or two of jogging warm up.

During race week, I like to schedule one more GMP run of 3 (5k) miles at race pace, 5 days ahead of your race.  This is your last chance for a dress rehearsal, so be sure that you are wearing what you will be wearing on race day and race pace is feeling really good.

Your mileage should be gradually dropping 10-20% each week of taper.  You might trim a couple of miles off your daily runs or you might schedule an extra rest day.

The day before the marathon, I recommend a short and slow 15-minute jog to help "shake out" the legs.

Marathon Training Week 1 & Race Week: Schedule Examples

As always, these are just examples and they may or may not work for you, especially if you are a newer runner or returning from injury.    

If you are running 4 days a week, here's what your running schedule could look like:

  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Taper tempo : 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
  • Long run: 10 miles (16k)

    RACE WEEK:

  • Taper Tempo: 5 miles (8k)
  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Day Before Race:  15 minutes easy jogging

If you are running 5 days a week, it could look like this:

  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Taper Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 4 miles (6k)
  • Taper Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Long run: 10 miles (16k)

    RACE WEEK:

  • Taper Tempo: 5 miles (8k)
  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Easy run: 4 miles (6k)
  • Day Before Race:  15 minutes easy jogging

If you are running 6 days a week, it could look like this:

  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Taper Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
  • Taper Tempo: 8 miles (13k)
  • Easy run: 4 miles (6k)
  • Long run: 10 miles (16k)

    RACE WEEK:

  • Easy run: 5 miles (8k)
  • Taper Tempo: 5 miles (8k)
  • Easy with strides: 4 miles (6k)
  • Easy run: 4 miles (6k)
  • Day Before Race:  15 minutes easy jogging

I don’t recommend running 7 days a week in marathon training unless you are very advanced, very strong, and very injury proof.  It usually causes more harm than good because a rest day is critical to building and repair.

I'm not adding in exactly when you should rest since that will depend on your unique schedule and how you are feeling.

Marathon Training Week 1 & Race Week: Taper Tantrums

Taper week can do some crazy things to runners.  Some people feel nervous and anxious about the big day.  Without as much running scheduled to ease the mind, nerves can get a bit frazzled.  We worry about losing fitness and gaining weight, we obsessively stalk the weather forecast, and we stress about making sure every last detail is taken care of.

We get the taper tantrums.

Some of us just don’t feel good during taper.  Some people even start to get sick because the immune system lets its guard down after months of hard training.

Not feeling great happens to a lot of us because it take 10-12 days to fully recover from hard workouts, which means you are not going to suddenly feel fresh and peppy.

Understanding that it's normal to feel this way can help you be less anxious about it.  I highly recommend that you take some time to relax and visualize your race.

Here's a more detailed look at everything you should be doing during taper along with what to eat to perform your best!

Looking Ahead

It's race day!  Learn the best strategy to race your marathon here.

Thanks so much for joining me on this 12 week series!  If you enjoyed it, please let me know in the comments below or send me an email at claire@theplantedrunner.com

If you missed earlier posts in the 12 Week Marathon series, here's where to find them:

Before you begin marathon training

Week 12

Week 11

Week 10

Week 9

Week 8

Week 7

Week 6

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

About Claire


Coach Claire has helped hundreds of runners chase their dreams and conquer big goals. Her coaching philosophy combines science-based training, plant-based nutrition, and mindset techniques to unlock every runner's true potential. She's an ASFA certified running coach, sports nutrition specialist, a 2:58 marathoner, mom, and borderline obsessive plant lover.

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