Common Marathon Mistakes To Avoid
Whether you’re a first-time marathon runner or an experienced participant, you have to acknowledge that these events put your body and mind through a lot. You shouldn’t just sign up for these (often expensive) popular events and dive into the immersive preparation unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. After all, you’re likely getting into marathons so you can better yourself—mind and body—so you wouldn’t want silly, easily avoidable mistakes to get in the way of that admirable goal. A little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to keeping up with marathon prep and getting through the marathon without having to sit down, or quit altogether (that would be a huge shame because, again, these things aren’t cheap). Here are marathon mistakes you need to know about.
Being wishy-washy about training
Don’t sample several training programs, or go for one full throttle, take a big break, and pick it back up. Choose the best training program for you and stick with it, the entire way. If you take breaks, picking your training back up again will be very difficult and you won’t achieve the results you wanted (aka you may find yourself unprepared for marathon day).
Failing to sample energy supplements
You will need to take energy gels or drinks with you on the day of the marathon. But don’t just choose one, buy it in bulk, and start taking it on marathon day. Sample several energy gels before the big day, so you can find the one that best agrees with your stomach.
Waiting too long to take a supplement
Don’t wait until you’re already exhausted during the marathon to take an energy gel. At that point, your energy is really depleted and those gels will have to work extra hard to get you back up to speed. Take energy gels the moment you start to feel your energy dip.
Going too fast
This one may seem obvious, but come marathon day, you could be feeling a little cocky from all of your training and forget it: pace yourself. Your body can sustain a well-paced run for a long time, but if you overdo it in the first five miles, you may have to stop altogether for the last five.
Neglecting to drink on the run
Practice drinking water while you run during training. It’s surprisingly difficult to do, and if you botch it, you’ll wind up with water on your shirt instead of in your mouth. That could result in stopping more often for water refills.
Caring about the race
This is a race against your best stats and nobody else’s. There will always be a faster runner than you and trying to outdo her could just result in injury. Train and train with the goal of reaching your personal best stats. Focus on those during marathon day.
Signing up for a long one at first
You shouldn’t dive into a 20-mile marathon. Start with smaller ones and work your way up to the larger ones. Even if you start training very early and rigorously, your body just can’t handle a 20-mile marathon as your first one.
Frontloading your practice miles
When you’re training, you’ll have weekly mile goals to reach. Break these goals up throughout the days. Just because you have the energy to do 60 percent of your miles the first day of the week doesn’t mean you should—you should be getting your body used to running a lot each day. You don’t do yourself a favor by getting the majority of your miles over with on day one, and taking it easy on days two through seven.
Only running on flat roads
Your marathon will take you through hilly and windy roads. It may even take you on dirt and sand roads. Incorporate these conditions into your training so your muscles aren’t shocked on marathon day.
Copying your friend’s “tricks”
Your seasoned marathon friends might have odd tricks like eating two whole pizzas the night before or only sleeping four hours the night before. Don’t listen to their tricks. If those work for them, that’s by chance and not because they’ve discovered some miracle equation.
Failing to train in rain or snow
Research the weather conditions in the city where the marathon will take place. If it may rain or snow during the marathon, you should attempt to train in rain and snow.
Forgetting about strength training
Strength training will be what keeps you going for a long marathon. Training should not just be about running, running, running.
Arriving too late
If you are traveling to the marathon city, arrive at least one day early. If you fly in the day of, your flight could be delayed. You don’t want any travel-related stress depleting you of energy the day of the marathon.
Having a big meal the night before
Having a huge meal the night before the marathon will only leave you feeling sluggish the next day. Instead, start carb loading 72 hours before. Aim for four grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight per day.
Failing to test your marathon day apparel
Train in the apparel you’ll run the marathon in. You wouldn’t believe how the tiniest detail (like a hat that makes your head sweat too much) can ruin marathon day.