If there’s one thing I truly excel at when it comes to racing, it has to be the planning phase.

Super cool, I know …

But I do it well.

Runners put a massive amount of effort into training, gear, and nutrition, but too often fall short when pulling it all together in the final days before a race.

It’s like taper week is an excuse to do nothing at all.

My experience has shown that the better a runner prepares mentally, physically, and logistically, before they toe the line, the better they race. Sounds simple, because it is.

Simple preparations mean:

  • Race morning will be less hectic, and you’ll start the race relaxed and focused.
  • Your crew will run smoother, transitioning you through the aid stations with ease.
  • Dropbags will have what you need, so you’re not stuck looking for something you forgot.
  • You’ll be prepared for mental lows, and can move past them quickly.

And it all comes back to not procrastinating. To putting logistics and organization at the forefront of your race week.

3 Principles for Race Week Planning

With race week preparations, I follow a set of three principles. Principles I can use as a framework before a race of any distance:

1) Start Early

As soon as tapering begins I start some sort of race day prep. The first step typically involves putting together lists (see below), but it might be as simple as reaching out to my crew for a check-in.

Whatever it is, I’ve found that it’s important to get the process in motion so you aren’t starting from scratch at the last minute.

2) Get Organized

Lists, lists, and more lists.

Look, I know we’re trail runners and the laid-back anything-goes approach is what drew us to the sport in the first place, but the better organized you are ahead of the race, the better organized you’ll be during the race.

It’s just fact.

Well before race day I’ve put together to-do, packing, nutrition, and gear lists, to begin to organize everything for the trip.

3) Communicate

This one is predominantly for runners who have a crew, pacer, or spectators.

Start communicating with anyone that will be part of your race several days before it begins. Share important details like where to be and when, and exactly what you’re expecting of their participation.

They may or may not read your emails, but the more information you pass along, the better they can prepare themselves (and help you in return).

The Ultramarathon Race Week Planning Checklist

To help make planning for your next race a little easier, I’ve put together a simple race week planning checklist which you can print off and use to get organized.

Download it for free here:

Get the Checklist

Don’t let race week pass you by, and end up scrambling the night before to get everything ready.

A relaxed but thoughtful approach to final preparations mean you’ll show up on race day with all the tools you need to conquer your goals.

And that’s what this is all about.

Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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