What to Do 2 Weeks Prior to Your First Half Marathon

Are you training for a half marathon this fall? In the two weeks before the race, known as the taper, you'll reduce the volume and intensity of workouts so you get to the starting line feeling ready to run.

After so much training, some runners find it hard to scale back; others find it hard to get off the couch. But doing too much (or too little) during this critical period can compromise the recovery you need to complement all your hard work. Here's how to strike the right balance between running and resting.

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Two Weeks Out From Race Day

This stretch is preceded by your final long effort (10 to 14 miles) on Sunday. Keep weekday workouts to 30 minutes. It's fine to do some easy cross-training on non-running days, as long as the activity doesn't make your muscles sore or have the potential to cause injury.

If you don't want to exercise on days you don't run, that's OK, too. End this week with a 45-minute run on Sunday.

More: 6 Running Experts on the Benefits of Cross-Training

One Week Out

Run for 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. Chill out or walk on Monday and Wednesday. (Find out if you need to take a break from training in 10 Signs You Need a Rest Day.)

More: What to Do on Rest and Recovery Days

Two Days Out

Rest, or run very easy for 1 to 2 miles. Check the forecast, make a list, then pack your race bag. Include a garbage bag or rain jacket for bad weather, the clothing and fuel you've tested on your long runs, race information and a pacing chart or your run/walk/run timer.

Plan to get eight hours of sleep.

More: What to Pack in Your Race Bag

The Day Before

Walk around the race expo or the staging area to get your bearings. Try to get decent rest, but don't fret if you toss and turn and feel restless. That's normal.

Avoid these 10 Race-Day Mistakes

Race day

Arrive at least 90 minutes before the start. Walk around as a light warm-up, then find your starting corral. Avoid crowding by staying near the back.

During the race, run a little slower than the pace you ran during your last two long runs. If you're feeling good, pick it up a little in the last third of the race.

Enjoy that final mile—you did it!

More: Your Mile-by-Mile Half Marathon Survival Guide

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