Written by Justin Bateman - http://www.justinbatemanrunning.com
If you're reading this I'm going to assume you've already signed up and trained for an ultramarathon. As such, I'm going to leave out any reference to training and even how to run the thing. Mainly because they're huge topics in their own right and you've only got a week left and you're bricking it. So in no particular order, here are six things that I do in the week leading up to an ultra.
If you're anything like me and most runners I know, you don't stretch enough. There's been a lot of research and discussion around stretching and the upshot is far from conclusive. Generally though I like the idea that you stretch to feel better, rather like animals do. So I'll do my hamstrings because they're like iron rods (not a good thing) and my hip flexors because I sit at a desk all day. Your muscles are probably going to be sore and tight after your ultra so I reckon it's a good idea to get everything as loose as possible in the days before the race.
Trust in your training
This applies to any distance but I think it's particularly important to remember the further you go, especially if you haven't run that far before. As with a marathon, you're unlikely to have run the distance of the race in training, so psychologically it can be a bit daunting. You're better off being undertrained and nicely rested than to go in knackered.
While you've been reducing the quantity and intensity of your running to prepare yourself for race day, you might notice a twinge in your knee or a soreness around your ankle that you've never felt before. This is perfectly normal. (Unless you've actually twisted your knee or rolled your ankle. In which case, have a doctor look at it.) It's all psychological. I believe it is all your excitement and potential energy just waiting to burst out on race day, although you should also know that I am not a scientist..
Plan your route to the start
Sounds obvious but there's nothing worse than anxiously being stuck in traffic or hoping desperately that you make your train connection before you even start running. Check there are no planned engineering works, allow extra time for leaves/cows/trespassers on the tracks, and if possible have a back-up route (or plan) in mind. I did all of this for the Gatliff 50k and STILL almost missed the start. Bloody South-Eastern Railways.
Prepare your kit
Depending on the length of the race, this could be no more than a water bottle and couple of Snickers, or it could be a full backpack of tent, sleeping bag and miniature rescue helicopter (just in case). Either way, make sure you know what you're wearing on the day, what you want, and what you absolutely must have. Many races have compulsory items so get them in place or your race might end before it begins. At least with a few days left, you've still got time to buy something vital from the Ultramarathon Running Store (other stores are available but most aren't as good.)
Get a good night's sleep the night before the night before
This is another one which is not only relevant to ultras but is all the more important if your race involves not sleeping for 24 hours or more. The night before the race you will most likely be nervous, excited and trying not to disturb all the kit laid out on your bed (see above). So target the night before that to have an early one and dream peacefully about your impending triumph.