Should you rest before a half marathon?

Go to any half marathon packet pickup and you'll undoubtedly hear runners comparing notes about their race-day eve rest rituals: "Oh yes, I had to run this morning to calm my nerves before tomorrow' race," says one. "Whoa , no way! I need to rest as much as possible before I cross that start line tomorrow," says another. Is runner number one or number two right? Should you rest the day before a half marathon? No, you should not rest before a race, according to Competitor.com. Long-time runner Jeff Gaudette notes: "Not only will running the day before not make you tired, but it can dramatically improve your performance. Regardless if you're racing a mile or a marathon, a 15-to-20-minute run the day before a race won't hurt you … A short run serves to prepare your body and mind to perform well the following day." But here' the thing. Just like peak number of miles reached during training and that sacred pre-race meal, the decision to exercise before race day really comes down to personal preference. To uncover some real-life perspectives, we asked the REM-Fit Life community, and our own Coach Kevin, if they rest before a half. Those in favor of rest said:
  • "I do, as rested legs work for me." , Julie W.
  • "Always." , Rebecca G.
  • "Yes. Lots of rolling and stretching. Good eating and hydration." , Brent D.
Those not in favor said:
  • "Nope. Rest is for the weak minded." , Danyel F.
  • "Always a 20, 30-minute light grass run." , Jake R.
  • "Raced a 5K the day before a marathon and definitely woke up next morning feeling great." , Michael L.
  • "Yes, before the marathon. Not for the half or short distance." , Rojer S.
  • "Only before a marathon or big triathlon (70.3). Not for a half or short-distance tri." , Susan B.
And here' what Coach Kevin thinks: "The most successful pre-race routine I've seen with my athletes is to do a full warmup, then hit the road at an easy pace. Run 25 to 40 percent of your race distance then cool down and fuel up. If at any part of the run your heart is not in it, cut the run short and commence cool down." Of course, we always put our trust in Coach Kevin but make sure you listen and react to your body. You can also perform some trial runs one or two months before your race, testing a short run the day before your long run one week, followed by a rest day the day before a long run the next, and see which long run feels better. Regardless of your pre-race rest preferences, you should always aim for a high-quality sleep, especially two nights before the race. That topic isn't really up for debate in the running community: It' a proven fact, and it' one we fully believe in here at REM-Fit! We'd like to give a big thanks to all our fans who shared their pre-race preferences, and a special "good luck" to all those running the Austin Half and Full Marathon, the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half and Full Marathon and other upcoming races!