The Last Minute Race Training Plan for the Untrained

Because people ask...

After seeing some form of this question three times today on Twitter and/or Reddit, I thought I would make a quick post on what the heck you should do if you have a marathon coming up very quickly and you've not trained for it.

This post is assuming you are reasonably fit and able to go out and jog an easy mile fairly comfortable.

Keep in mind

  • During this week you must never become sore.
  • Run at an easy conversational pace. No hard running.
  • End every run before you feel like you need to end it due to fatigue or soreness.
  • The point of your training right before a race that you're not trained for is to simply get your legs as used to being on their feet and as used to that running motion as possible without developing any cumulative fatigue.

Race Week Plan

  • Monday - Jog 1 minute, walk 1 minute, repeat for 10-30 minutes based on your comfort level.
  • Wednesday  - 2 minute jog + 1 minute walk for 15-45 minutes. Remember, easy & end the run before you need to.
  • Thursday - Walk 30-60 minutes
  • Friday - 2 minute jog + 1 minute walk for 15-45 minutes. Remember, easy & end the run before you need to.
  • Saturday - Walk 30-60 minutes
  • Sunday - 26.2 miles of run / walk.

The Day Before the Race

  • Stay active, but don't do anything too out of the ordinary. Try not to spend 2 hours walking around a race expo.
  • Don't eat too much the day before, and especially the evening prior. I try to keep my dinner size down to a minimum to reduce the amount of food I may have in my GI system on race morning and potentially during the race.

Race Day Pacing

  • Keep it EASY. If you've never been in a race before, you'll find out really quick how the race day environment makes a super fast pace feel super easy. This causes people to start the event too fast and is the #1 reason why people hit the wall. 
  • You may not feel like you need to run/walk early on, but practicing a regular run/walk routine before you need to run/walk will drastically improve your performance in the final half of the distance. 

Race Nutrition

  • I would suggest to bring a bottle with you and drink to thirst. I like this handheld. You can refill it at aid stations along the route.
  • I also suggest taking in 100-200 calories during each hour of the race. If the event you are doing has regular aid stations every 3-6 miles or so, you can simply grab a few things at each of these, that way you won't have to actually carry them with you along the way.

Running Gear

  • Lube is going to be very important so you do not chafe. It's likely you have vaseline, that will work just fine. Race morning, rub it inside your thigh and around your man bits if you have them.
  • As for the actual gear, you have two options. Go with what you have or get new gear. Honestly, what you already have will likely be pretty good for your purposes. And if running is not something you think you're going to often do, it may not be worth it to buy new running specific apparel. Even compression briefs, basket ball shorts, your athletic socks and shoes, and a cotton t-shirt will work. They may not be 100% ideal, but they're going to be fairly close. 

Kyle is a running coach who works with people all over the world to help them run more consistently & be resilient to injury.

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