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It's time to prepare for race day at the Wilmslow Half Marathon

To make sure you have the energy to complete the race you should start to “taper” your training off in the 10-14 days before race day to make sure your body is rested and ready to go. The harder you have trained the longer period you need for tapering.

Training load = volume + intensity.

Volume: How much you do i.e. how many miles you cover in a run

Intensity: How hard you do it i.e. Your pace

Frequency: How many runs per week

Research suggests that a reduction of between 41% – 61% of volume, with no change in frequency or intensity in the two weeks before an event is the most efficient way to maximise performance. Other authors suggest that over the 10 days before the race you drop from 80% 10 days before, to 60% in the last week and within the last 4 days only do 40% of your training volume but don’t forget to include the race day mileage in your last week volume calculation! The important point is to reduce your overall load. In those 4 days before the event your longest run should be no more than 25% of the longest run you have done.

The intensity can stay the same unless you are pushing very hard and may be at risk on injury. Some runners like to remind their leg muscles how to run quickly just before an event so may add a few quick runs to their last training session 3-5 days before.

Lots of runners advocate running at race pace but much shorter distances in the last week. This helps you to tune your body to the pace you want to go at on the day but not get fatigued. You won’t get any fitter at this point so better to go in to race day less fit but with more energy in the tank.

How to help your body get ready:

  • Sleep and rest –Try to get a few early nights in race week and avoid late nights. If you cant sleep with nerves it is normal and won’t affect your performance if you stay in bed and rest

  • Try to boost your immune system

  • Do not drink alcohol the night before the race or directly after it.

  • Avoid heavy strength and conditioning or gym work

  • Stay off your feet – if travelling to a new area don’t do the tourist bits before a race


  • Glycogen is your principle fuel when engaged in endurance sports so preparation for a half marathon involves ensuring you have a sufficient store to power round over the distance. Because you are training less you will actually be naturally carb loading if you continue to eat what you have for the last few weeks as you will not be burning as much of the energy during the tapering phase.

  • Eat your normal pre-long run breakfast. Don’t suddenly change your routine.

  • Don’t overeat on the night before the race; you will feel sluggish and full. Again, no food that might sit heavy on your stomach or upset it.

Race Day

  • Don’t add anything new in during these last two weeks and particularly on race day – now is not the time to experiment with new stretches, activities, energy drinks or gel or massage unless your body is used to it.

  • Check the weather forecast for race day

  • Pack your kit bag 2 days before – safety pins for your race number, warm clothes, vaseline, snacks, fluids and iPod is charged if you use one. Check your watch if you use it to pace yourself.

  • Take a bin bag for your warm kit but make it distinctive!

  • Take a carbohydrate-based snack (for example a banana or energy bar) and sports drink to snack on between breakfast and the race start. Don’t try anything new.

  • Arrive in plenty of time so you don’t feel rushed

  • Consider a light 15-20 minute jog in the morning the day before the race to help ease nerves and to warm up

  • Stick to your pace not the crowd. Write your split times on your hand. Don’t get excited and try to keep with the pace.

  • Don’t take on more fluid than normal, you don’t need it and it will slosh around in your tummy. Small sips only at each station or stick to drinking when you feel thirsty. Excessive water consumption can induce Exercise Associated Hypernatremia. This a serious condition where the body has low sodium levels which paradoxically will reduce your ability to absorb water.

  • Try to take time to breathe, enjoy and smile – you may be on camera!

If you need any help or advice regarding any niggles or uncertainties then please ask the team at Physiofit clive@physiofit.co.uk

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