When race day is approaching, you should have a plan for backing off from your training in the same way that you had a plan for increasing your training. How you should prepare during the weeks leading up to race day will vary slightly depending on the distance of your race. But regardless, your plan should include elements of tapering your runs, eating smart and simulating race day conditions. These elements of your training are as important as the difficult workouts you completed during the peaks in your training.
Two weeks before race day, you should start tapering your runs (of course this will depend on the distance of your race). Generally speaking, you should have the core of your training done (including long runs and speed workouts) two weeks prior to your race. After that, your training is mostly maintenance and injury prevention. This is especially true if you are racing a marathon or if you are running your first half-marathon. If you are running a 5k or a 10k, you will be training a little bit longer.
One week before race day, if you haven’t already been doing this, practice getting up early and eating breakfast early, and getting out the door for a run early. Most races are early in the morning, especially longer races like marathons. This way you will get used to running under racing conditions. If you are not a morning person, getting up early can be difficult, let alone running a race. Getting up early the week prior to race day will also give you an idea of how much time you will need to get ready and get out the door.
Three days before your race, you should do what is best for you and this varies from person to person. If you are running a marathon, you should do as little running as possible (unless you get too stressed out by the idea of not running, then it is counterproductive). If you are doing anything from a 5k to a half marathon, do your last speed workout three days before race day. Don’t do anything too hard. Some people like to take three days off entirely from running, other runners feel sluggish when they do this, so you should know what works for you.
The day before your race should be relaxing. If you don’t know the course, drive or walk it (when possible). This way you will get a general idea of where you will be going. Don’t try any new foods and make sure to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Put everything you will be bringing to the race in a bag the night before and set out the clothes and the shoes you will be wearing.