Marathon runners have a wealth of information available to them for their marathon training and running of the actual event.
However many marathon runners, especially first – timers, commit fatal errors which can really hinder their marathon performance. (I’m talking from experience here).Here are the top mistakes made by marathon runners:
Mistake #1: Screwing Up Your Pace
This is the single biggest mistake made by marathon runners, and it’s entirely preventable.
Many otherwise well-prepared marathon runners end up having a terrible race day experience, simply because they didn’t have a pace strategy. What am I talking about?
Many runners go out too fast. They get swept up in the crowds and the adrenaline, and find the first few miles deceptively easy.
It isn’t until after the half-way point that they pay the price. Other runners simply lack a pace strategy – they decide they’ll wing it on race day and see how things go.
Again, this often ends in a ‘crash-and-burn’ scenario.
Having even a basic pace strategy can avoid all these issues. For most beginner and intermediate marathon runners, planning to run even splits is the most effective and straight-forward pace strategy.
So get a good GPS watch. Decide your target pace in advance.
And stick to it come race day.
Mistake #2: Doing Too Many Long, Fast Training Runs
Many marathon runners think that the best way to prepare for a marathon is to go out and run long runs at your target marathon pace.
(Before my first marathon, I actually ran a marathon in training at my desired race pace. The result? come marathon day, I was still burned out from this ‘training run’. Classic marathon mistake).
The trick to effective marathon training is to train smart.
Doing long runs at marathon pace is not effective; the distance is too long for you to really work on speed, and if you’re trying to run fast, you’re not working on your stamina effectively. Instead, each run should have a purpose.
Do your long runs at a slow, conversational pace in order to build endurance.
Do shorter training runs at marathon pace, or do speed work such as interval training to work on speed. Working on these two attributes – endurance and speed – separately means that you can improve on each more effectively, then combine them on marathon day.
Note: I’m not advocating never doing long runs at marathon pace. During marathon training, it is worth doing at least one, preferably two – a half-marathon or a 15-miler, for example. Just no need to overdo it.
Mistake #3: Not fuelling properly
Many marathon runners simply don’t fuel properly.
They don’t know what to take, how much to take, or when to take it.
There’s less need to fuel on-the-run during marathon training, when most of your runs are under two hours (and your long runs are done at a conservative pace).
However, come marathon day, you want to maximise your performance potential. And to do this, you need fuel.
I recommend taking one energy gel 15 minutes before the start line, a then one every 45-60 minutes of the race. This keeps a constant stream of easy-to-process energy going to your system.Just make sure you trial your fuelling strategy in advance – some people can’t stomach energy gels when running.What other marathon mistakes have you made?Let me know below!