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Resting the day before a track meet?

Is it better to rest the day before a track meet?

Really, it depends on the program you’re using. So that they don’t exhaust their legs, my coach has typically the sprinters warm up by running a few 50 meters at about 25% speed before having them cool down.

However, our long-distance runners always make it to the state, so he really works with us. The day before a track meet of long-distance runners, he will have our warm-up and then have us do 2 200 dashes, 1 400 dashes, and then back down to 2 200 dashes. And, of course, a cool down.

 

Rest the day before a track meet for distance or sprinters?

Personally, I don’t think you should rest before a track meet, even if you are distant or a sprinter. Because the day before a track meet, you should have been carb-loading, so you already have a lot of energy.

A day before a track meet, you should at least do a small temp run or a recovery pace run, stretch for a while so you won’t be sore, and be sure to eat right.

 

I can’t say because I haven’t participated in any track meet; I just do long-distance running.

I would have assumed that you would be OK doing something the day before a track meet – just maybe not as intense as any other day. In general, the shorter the distance of any exercise, the quicker you will recover (even if the small distance is a heavier effort).

You have a “taper” (often lasting three weeks) before a marathon to gradually reduce your weekly distance. This might result in “taper crazy,” which is when you have too much energy, are worried about everything feel like an injury, etc., and are generally bouncing off the walls.

My coworker, an exceptional runner, claims that he finds it so difficult to taper that the only way he can manage while cutting back on distance is to up the intensity. While not quite ideal, it does show that you occasionally need to continue doing “something.”

No, it would help if you did a pre-meet

While it’s crucial to stay prepared, fit, and rested for a race, running the day before shouldn’t be absolutely avoided. I would say that for long-distance runners at least, 400m and up, there should be some exercise to get the blood flowing, wake up the body, and maintain it in shape for the race the following day.

My regular pre-meet preparation for running the 800m and 1600m is 20 minutes of easy exercise followed by six strides. Running and strides add up to around 5 miles, which helps your body prepare for the race. If you’re exhausted and feel like it’s essential, you can cut the easy periods down to 10-15 minutes.

Photo Credit: Northern Arizona University (NAU)

“Rest” is ambiguous

Does easy 2-tempo run? That’s a rest day for a 10k runner, not necessarily a great choice, but it won’t break the bank.

  • Take a day off? Not awful, but it can leave you feeling a pretty flat solution.
  • Short 15-20 minute run? Not bad, but again, it doesn’t usually leave you feeling snappy for the next day.


When you get to a meet that matters, a short run to keep routine is appropriate, but you need to have something to prime your nervous system. Most coaches opt for doing some strides at a quick pace. And can also do some light plyometric work or some explosive med ball or shot throws to get everything firing without doing so much that you feel fatigued.


Sprinters may get in a long warmup and some blocks and hurdle hop. They keep the volume low and intensity high.

Full Rest or just being Lazy?

Full Rest

I think a full rest. Suppose the track meet is in the morning the next day. If track meets in the afternoon, do a warmup and a few drills the morning before if comp is on the next day.


It depends on most athletes doing what we called pre-meet warm-ups the day before their meet. Basically, you do your warm-up routine the way you will do it at the meet.

Take a couple of starts and just get your mindset for your event. That takes no more than 45 mins. Now, if you have an injury and you are not 100%, then do your Therapy. But I wouldn’t do anything at all. Unless there is a conflict during the time, you should be on track.


I usually recommend doing what typically would be a “warm-up” that one would do on the day of the meeting. Short jog, stretching, a few strides. Just enough to get the heart and breathing rates up a bit and to break a small sweat. This would be for the running events from 800 to 5000m.

Rest is a good idea, but that does not mean complete rest. An easy run followed by stretching or an easy workout routine to tune up the body is a good idea.

I wouldn’t do anything like a regular training or workout schedule that will strain your muscles, which is not a good idea before a meeting.

References:

Spiker, T., & Editors, R. W. (2022, June 29). Should I Run on Rest Days? | Importance of Rest Days. Runner’s World; www.runnersworld.com. https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20864022/why-rest-days-are-important/

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