The Last Week Before a Marathon

Training properly during the final week before a marathon can make or break your race. Often the thing that will break you is too much training in the final week and going into the marathon slightly “over-trained.”

“There is no such thing as over-training, only under-resting”
-Deen Kastor, US Women’s Marathon Record Holder

I agree with Deena that focusing on being well rested should be a major focus for a marathon runner. At first glance “over-training” and “under-resting” seem like two ways of saying the same thing. However, they are two very different ways of thinking. Saying that you are “over-trained” gives the impression that you need to train less, which might be a problem if you are trying to run a faster Marathon. Using the terminology of “under-rested” will encourage you to find ways to recover better and solidify (check out my blog on how to solidify your runs) your hard workouts and runs.

Our goal is not avoid “over-training” but instead focus on recovery and making sure you are not “under-rested.” This is particularly true in the final week before a marathon.

I have detailed the final week before one of my athlete’s training. She had been running 80-99 miles per week in her marathon buildup with one day off every 14. I detailed the focus of each day along with a few tips for the final week. There is a lot of abbreviations, but you’ll get the basic understanding of her training.

Justyna Mudy
Training one week prior to the marathon Dec 4. – Dec 10. 2011

Sunday: Mini Long Run
Drinking practice with race day liquids and mental preparation
LUNGE MATRIX, 1hr 30mins @Zone 1 to Zone 2 (progressing from 7:30pace to 6:50pace), light stretching

Monday: Recovery Day
LUNGE MATRIX, 1hr @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 7:30pace), a few drills and dynamic stretching

Tuesday: Pre-Marathon
Workout just to get the kinks out
LUNGE MATRIX, WORKOUT WARMUP, 2miles @ goal Marathon pace (12:10, 6:05pace), 3mins rec, 6X400m @5k Race Pace with 1min rec (76-79 per 400m), WORKOUT COOLDOWN
Note: don’t worry if you don’t feel that good on this one. I have found that how you feel 4 days before the marathon doesn’t mean much.

Afternoon Run: 40mins @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 7:30pace), light stretching

Wednesday: Recovery Day
LUNGE MATRIX, 1hr @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 7:30pace), a few drills and dynamic stretching

Afternoon Run: 40mins @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 7:30pace), light stretching

Thursday: Focus on Form Day
LUNGE MATRIX, 40mins @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 8:00pace), a few drills and dynamic stretching, 4X100m hill sprint @80% of Max effort, 30mins @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 7:30pace) light stretching and light medball routine

Friday: Recovery Day
You can do some light strides (4X) here if you need to, but it is not necessary unless you need it to relax.
Half OF THE LUNGE MATRIX, 30mins @Zone 0 to Zone 1 (easy jogging at 8:00pace), light stretching after

Saturday: Race Day
10mins easy jogging to warm-up with a stride or two and a few drills. The Marathon warm-up is highly specific to each person’s needs.

Total Miles: 65-70. This is 75-77% of the weekly mileage that was run in the buildup period to the marathon.
Heavy focus on recovery through 3 ice bath’s, 2 massages, stretching, focusing on form, sleeping 8+ hours at night and taking 1hr naps most days.

Marathon Time: 2:42:05

Splits: 6:14, 6:22, 6:15, 6:11, 6:19, 6:22, 6:21, 6:22, 6:24, 6:21, 6:23, 6:22, 6:29, 6:11, 5:49 (broke away from the pack), 5:52, 5:55, 5:58, 5:58, 5:59, 6:05, 5:59, 5:56, 6:02, 6:01, 6:00, 1:58 (for .35)

Marathon Week Tips:

  • Minimum of eight hours of sleep every night the week of the marathon
  • Make sure that you do some light stretching after your runs in the final days


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