Last Minute Race Training: Preparing for the Final Exam

Remember that race you signed up for back in February? Guess what – it’s 3 weeks away! It’s time to jump off the couch and do some serious training right?!?

Hopefully not! But in the case that you’ve left race prep until the last minute, we’ve written a blog to help you. We cover the do’s and don’ts of last minute race prep. It may be six weeks to go, or it may be next week, but there are some hot tips that will make race day smoother and a few things that might just keep you from even toeing the line!


Cram for the exam…Our first temptation after realizing we haven’t been putting in the training time is to cram as much training in as possible before race day. This is the biggest don’t of the day. Athletes that have been training for the race spend the final weeks tapering – that is resting and letting their body recover and build up muscle and energy sources. If you spend your final week breaking your body down and using up stored energy reserves, any fitness you might have brought to the table on race day will be lost. We have a few rules of thumb for last minute training:

  • 1 week left: no training is helpful now. Rest up and hope your body can get you through the event (see a few of our “Do’s though).
  • 3 weeks left: You’ve got time for a *few* runs that will help you develop confidence, test gear for the race, and maybe bump fitness slightly. These runs should just be a bit longer than what you’ve been doing but with a bit more frequency. You shouldn’t have much more than a 10-15% increase in volume from previous weeks.
  • 6 weeks left: You’ve got time for a true build training block. You can afford to train harder than you have been and push your body before a pre-race recovery period (the taper). You can build volume progressively over four weeks and include some strategy in your training. The best use of this time is going to be with the support of a coach who can prescribe specific sessions that won’t waste your limited remaining time. 


Develop a race strategy… Start doing your research around the race. Get the course profile and map. Note where the major climbs and important sections of the race are. Figure out how much time you’ll take between aid stations (far more useful than distance). Talk to someone who has raced it before or get in touch with one of our coaches. We can help you honestly decide if you’ve got a chance at crossing the finish line and approximately how long that might take you. We can also help recommend how to race – which sections to plan on hiking and perhaps where you can push!

Optimize nutrition… Even a little engine needs fuel. Go into your race as fuelled up as possible and give yourself plenty of time to refuel. If you’re just going for completion, make good use of aid stations. Don’t dilly dally (lawn chairs are the enemy of finishers) but do take in the food you need and even a moment to swallow it.

Plan to have fun suffering… You may not be prepared for a personal best but you can enjoy the trail, the company, and the knowledge you’re trying your hardest on the day. With a realistic time goal, you can settle into a pace that’s going to get you there. It might not be comfortable but it’ll work!

No matter what your training level is, we can help you get as prepared as possible for your next event. A custom training plan will take into account your current fitness and your goals and a consult with a coach will help you identify some key race strategy points. Get in touch!

Consult a Coach!

We offer 45min phone consults to help you prepare for races, plan a training block, or discuss equipment. These are a great opportunity to talk with a professional who can point you in the right direction!

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