Whether you’re planning for your first marathon or you’re a seasoned long-distance runner, the importance of good training and race day plans can’t be discounted. It would be unwise and dangerous to run a full 26.2 miles unprepared. Instead, marathon training should begin months in advance, so that when race day arrives, your body and mind are ready to undertake the challenge.
These require more intricate programs than 5Ks, 10Ks and 15Ks. It’s important to take all factors into consideration when deciding to run a marathon, choosing which one and starting your training. Here are some common mistakes marathoners make and why you should avoid them:
Not paying attention to weather or lifestyle considerations when choosing your race
If you live in a city or location that hosts a marathon, chances are you’ll opt for that race because it’s close by and you’ll have a good understanding of the climate and terrain. However, for people who like to travel to different races, it’s important to not only consider the location itself but what the weather is like there and how it suits your lifestyle. If you plan for a spring race, most of your training will occur during the winter, and if you live someplace with all four seasons, that means that snow, less daylight and cold temperatures will affect your ability to train outside. On the other hand, if you opt for a fall marathon or a race in a tropical locale, most of your training will take place on hot, humid days. It’s crucial to take a look at the big picture when planning a marathon including the race itself as well as where it is, when you’ll be able to train and climate conditions.
Not recognizing the importance of a long run every week
The truth is that 26.2 miles is a really long distance for someone to run non-stop. As part of your training, it’s important to include both short- and long-distance runs in order to challenge your body and allow it to adapt mentally and physically. You’ll need strength, stamina and endurance to successfully cross the finish line, but if you don’t do at least one long run a week, your body won’t be able to completely handle a marathon in its entirety. Long-distance runs also help your body increase the muscle glycogen storage, which helps fuel your body.
Giving in to overtraining
While it is important to be committed to a regular workout routine each week, it’s certainly possible to overtrain, which can lead to sore muscles and injuries. As the race approaches, don’t allow yourself to panic and try to fit in as much training as possible. Instead, be sure you’re giving yourself rest days for athletic recovery. It’s also helpful to stretch out your muscles, especially in your lower body and treat yourself to a massage as part of your training. With the added stress on your body, knots and kinks can form in your muscles, so it’s important to work them out with a deep tissue or trigger point massage.
Not practicing what the race day will be like
Along with your general training to complete the marathon, it’s a good idea to take time to plan out and go over what the actual day will be like. This can save you from any surprises. If you have only been running in the afternoon or evening hours, it’s necessary to also complete a morning run since most marathons begin early in morning. Other race day considerations include how you’ll get to the marathon start location, what you’ll eat (and how much) and what shoes and clothes you’ll be wearing. If your current running shoes are worn out or old, you want to invest in a new pair but you should buy them during training so you can break them in. You can try different breakfasts before a long run to see what provides you with the best fuel option, and you can wear different outfits to see how they fare in terms of sweating and/or chaffing.
Keeping these potential marathon mistakes in mind will ensure that you are fully prepared for the race when the day comes, which will make it easier and more fun to cross that finish line.