When approaching a race in the final weeks, it is most important to trust your training. The week before the race, you’ll want to taper down your mileage to rest your legs for the main event. You may want to keep the momentum you’ve built during training, but you must show restraint and control. If you’ve followed your training program, trust in it; you can feel confident that the work you’ve put in will get you to your goals.
That trust in your training, and your resulting confidence, can also help if you’re feeling pain. You may need to rest until race day if you have lingering pain from something like shin splints. Minor pains that come and go are a natural consequence of training, but if a pain doesn’t go away, you may need to rest completely, or to run only until you begin to feel the pain. You could also replace running with cross-training activities such as swimming and walking if you want to get a workout in.
Listen to your body, and remember that you already have the fitness banked to complete the 10K if your pain subsides by then. Training in the months before a race is far more important than any training that you could do in the week before.
Even if you’re completely healthy, you should dial back the intensity of your workouts significantly in the week or two before a 10K race. Most important, listen to your body and trust your training; if you do, you’ll have the best chance of getting to the event in racing shape and crossing the finish line strong and injury-free.
Dr. Anne M. Kelly is an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in shoulder and knee surgery, at the Hospital for Special Surgery main campus and the HSS Long Island office. She is an honorary chief for the New York City Fire Department and has served as an assistant team physician at St. John’s University and assistant medical consultant to the New York Racing Association. She was a consultant to the spring training of the Boston Red Sox from 1997 to 2005.