The Great North Run 4 week Count Down

August 24, 2017


4 weeks to go – Less becomes more!

This is when the gremlins starting talking to you – “have you done enough training?”, “should you squeeze in one more 2 hour run?”, These are common worries in the final weeks but It’s time to let your body start to recover and build its strength for race day. The training you do today takes 2-3 weeks to have a real long-term effect on fitness so you can see immediately that 2 weeks out from a half marathon we can reach a point of diminishing returns if you are not careful!

Focus now on protecting your fitness and feeling great on race day. You can use the final weeks to sharpen up slightly with a couple of shorter faster sessions and even a 5k parkrun.

Your longest half marathon training run should be 3 or 4 weeks out from race day. A top session could be 90 minutes with the last 30 mins at your target race pace.

Two weekends before, reduce this long run to 75-90 minutes. One week before it’s time to run just 60-70 minutes easy and enjoy the Sunday papers!

All your other training needs to remain the same 3 weeks out, though do have a couple of easy or rest days after that longest run


The final week is a crucial time. All those tough weeks of training need to count so look after yourself and your body.

Our big tip is don’t taper too much, you can have too many rest days and then feel sluggish by race day. Your body loves routine so try for a 30 minute easy and relaxed run on the same days you would normally run, chatting with mates or along a favourite route. Don’t chase time or worry about the GPS stats, just run easy and keep relaxed.

If you feel strong then consider a light session; for example 30 minutes including 3 x 5 mins at threshold or your marathon pace with a 2 minute jog as recovery. You are just keeping your legs used to a little pace and feeling faster.

We often advise runners to jog for 10-20 mins the day before the race and stretch. It helps you to feel loose on race day and can calm the nerves a little. However, always practise what you are used to in race week and the day before. If you usually rest then definitely do this.

The nerves will kick in at some point – this is a good thing. It’s totally normal but we need to get things in perspective. Take time out in the week at some point and review your training over a coffee. Remember your best long runs, sessions and maybe a 10k that went well. It’s time to remember the positives and you can draw on these on race day. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and those that enjoy the challenge and are excited by the thought of race day.

Sleep and rest – you always need to respect this key element as a runner if you want to improve. Try to get a few early nights in race week and definitely protect that immune system in the final weeks, as late nights and picking up a cold will wreck race day.

Avoid heavy strength and conditioning or gym work this week and don’t fall into the trap of using all that extra time to start DIY projects or go sightseeing in town and tiring your legs out! Plan your travel on race day with a few days to spare

Nutrition – getting it right in the last week

It’s all actually really simple – just eat normally and gradually reduce the volume and intensity of your training – this is a natural carb load. Your body needs the quality calories to keep your glycogen (carbohydrate stores) topped up so you feel great in training and on race day.

Remember ‘Never hungry, never over full’ and grazing throughout the day with snacks and sensible main meals will work well. Eat your normal pre-race or pre- long run breakfast. Don’t suddenly change what has worked so well for you in training. You want your body to feel normal and comfortable on the start line so now is not the time to suddenly try porridge or some wonder meal if you are not used to it.

Don’t stuff yourself silly on the night before the race; it will only leave you feeling sluggish on race day.

Look out for out for Physiotherapy Matters Great north Run blog talking about 24 hour preparation and top race day tips.

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