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Taking a Day Off Before a Race

Posted by: on January, 6 2012

I’ve heard that taking a day off the day before a race is bad for you. I thought about taking off the day before my last race this year for some extra energy. My coach wants me to do a short run. Which do you think is better?

Thanks for the question. This is pretty straight forward – you want to run and do some strides the day before your race. Why? Countless runners have experimented with both a day off before a race and an easy run with strides the day before a race and the consensus is that you feel better on race day when you run the day before your race. Most teams call this a “pre-race” day. The flip side is most runners report feeling flat and sluggish on race day when they don’t do anything the day before. The physiological explanation for this has to do with the fact that your nervous system “remembers” physical tasks from one day to the next; if you do some strides at 5k pace or faster on a Friday, your legs will naturally want to run that rhythm the next day.

Don’t get me wrong – taking a day off each week is great for high school runners. In fact, you can take a day off two days out from the race…you could take off Thursday, do your pre-race on Friday and then race on Saturday. Many programs run workouts early in the week and by taking a day off on Thursday, you get a day to recover and “absorb” that work.

Bottom line Colin is that you need to do some running – just a few miles and strides – the day before your race to be fully ready to go on race day.

-Coach Jay

*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

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