The last two weeks before a competition

20. September 2018

The last two weeks before a competition are all about applying the finishing touches. What can / should you still do – and what not? Tips for the last few days.


Second last week before the competition

  • Runners who train for more than 4 hours a week should reduce their training by at least one third.
  • If you train for up to 4 hours a week, then you can continue to train like normal.
  • You can still plan to do a shorter test competition two weeks before the competition.
  • The last long endurance training unit (90 minutes or more) should be done roughly two weeks before the competition, albeit at a rather slow pace and not at racing pace!
  • The individual units may include short and fast sections, as well as short and fast sprint runs. However, your planned fast units should be kept short and you should no longer run until you are totally exhausted.
  • Running technique exercises promote a good running feeling.

Competition week

This applies to all runner categories: significantly reduce the amount of training in the last week and do not train for longer than one hour. Reducing your training in a linear fashion enables the body to actively recover and get in top form.

  • Stay focussed: during the week of the competition, refrain from doing any strength training or other sports and just concentrate on running to ensure your muscles and sense of movement are focused on your running motion.
  • Think of your training in the last week as «movement therapy» and no longer as «training». Try to ensure your running is relaxed and technically correct (ABC running drills) and focus on the most important points of a good technique.
  • Do not do any more intensive and exhaustive units. Short and relaxed training runs of 30 to 40 minutes are permitted. Short and swift units with intermediate sprints, sprint runs, or even short, fast speed variation will stimulate the body and help to create fluidity and a good running feeling.
  • The second last day is a rest day! If need be, you can complete an extensive stretching program.
  • On the last day before the competition, don’t do more than a short continuous run with a few short sprints to get a good sense of pace.
  • Otherwise stop training and make sure you put your feet up!
  • Competition day: complete an extensive gymnastics program and a warm-up run as close to the start as possible. Your circulatory system should be stimulated when you take off and not in sleep mode.

Everyday life 

  • Reduce the load: whereas patience and restraint are important, you shouldn’t stop training entirely because your body is accustomed to a certain degree of movement. Taking a complete break from training will switch it to «sleep mode» and it won’t be ready for a peak performance on day X.
    • Work: organise your work in such a way to ensure the last days are not unnecessarily hampered by the hectic pace of everyday working life. Plan to have as much free time as possible during the week before the competition and sleep a lot. On the last night, however, sleep is not so important as it is usually difficult to sleep well anyway.
    • Stretching: look after your muscles and increase the number of stretching units. This is not only good for your muscles but brings about the necessary relaxation. A massage can also work wonders.
    • Body care: have you addressed all your aches and pains and taken care of your feet? Make sure you cut your nails early on and not on the day before the run. Attend to the needs of your body!
    • Put your feet up: during the last two days, get horizontal if you can and don’t stand around unnecessarily with nothing to do at the event trade fair or in the sponsor village. And in fine weather, make sure your body doesn’t get too hot and tired, especially if the competition is not taking place until the afternoon. Stay in the shade as often as possible.
    • Know the infrastructure: do you know how the start area is organised and where the changing rooms are for depositing things, etc.? Take the time beforehand to inform yourself of all the things going on to prevent any unnecessary stress.
    • Mental preparation: think about which problems could occur in the worst-case scenario and more importantly: devise the necessary strategies to tackle or solve them. Visualise possible situations that may arise in the competition during quiet moments at home. In the event of an emergency, you can thus conjure up «successful» images that you have rehearsed.
    • Prepare your equipment: what shoes and clothes will you put on? Wear socks and shoes that are well broken-in (neither should be new), study the weather forecast, and consider early on what you want to wear on the day of the competition. Are you competing with a starting number belt and/or bib? If yes, practice wearing it at an early stage and don’t just make an «exception» for the competition. Don’t try out anything you’re not used to in the competition, whether it is equipment, nutrition, clothing, or your willingness to take risks.


  • Balanced basic diet: despite all the touted miracle cures: a varied basic diet is the most important basis for ensuring all your needs are met. Eat normally until a few days before the competition.
    • Carbo-loading: the effectiveness of targeted carbo-loading is undisputed. The more carbohydrates you have stored in the liver and muscles, the longer you can live off them during a competition. This means: the longer the competition, the more important it is to replenish your carbohydrate reserves (guideline: 7-12 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight per day). While several days of carbo-loading is not necessary for exertions that last less than an hour, for long exertions it is. The easiest way to get the necessary carbohydrates is to eat (low fat) confectionery (e.g. gummy bears, honey, Basler Läckerli biscuits, Biberli honey and marzipan bars) and/or sports drinks in addition to pasta, rice or cereal products.
    • No whole foods: whereas a whole food diet is good for you in everyday life, it unnecessarily burdens the stomach in the final days before a competition. For once, you can (or must) stop eating healthy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and raw vegetables or salad with a clear conscience. Plan to eat your last carbohydrate-rich, easy to digest, and not too abundant meal around 3-4 hours before the start.
    • Drink a lot: it is important to drink plenty of fluids in the run-up to the competition, especially in summer and warm temperatures. Tip: during the last few days (and in everyday life), always keep a bottle with you and drink on a regular basis (visual inspection: light-coloured urine). Only drink very moderate amounts of alcohol in the last few days or do not consume any at all, however, a glass of wine or beer each day will not affect your athletic performance and can provide "moral" support.
    • Competition nutrition: during the competition, energy should be available as quickly as possible and simultaneously burden the stomach and intestines as little as possible. Gels and sports bars are ideal. However, the following applies: do not try out anything new, find out beforehand what the organiser has on offer and if necessary (and if you have a sensitive stomach) organise your own food and drink.