3 Colossal Marathon Mistakes you Don’t Want to Make
Are you training for a marathon? If so, then don’t make these 3 colossal marathon mistakes that many first-time marathoners do!
You know the saying that goes, “to err is human.” It is true but clever people learn from others’ mistakes instead of their own. It is quicker and it hurts less. 🙂 And I guess that is the reason you are here in the first place. I’m going to tell you about three major mistakes that runners can easily avoid when preparing or actually running a marathon. Read carefully and make sure not to let them happen to you!
Lack of mental preparation, #1 of marathon mistakes
Try to google “marathon preparation” and look what you find. 90 percent of content will be about training, hydration, nutrition or running gear. Just a few articles mention anything about mental preparation. And that is terribly wrong. Most aspiring marathoners learn from these articles and therefore they might not aware of how crucial it is to work on your mindset.
Have you heard of Pareto 80/20 rule? It says that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of time and effort. While the rule is widely accepted in business, many people are not aware of this important rule when it comes to running. Plenty of marathoners say that 80% of a marathon race is run in your head and only 20% is about physical training! How cool is that? And considering it is true, how wrong it is not to prepare your head properly?
Self – discipline is the key
In running (also in life), we set up big goals and naturally we come to situations that are extremely unpleasant and difficult. Let me give you one mental self-discipline tip that I practice daily. I learned it from my mental toughness guru David Goggins and his amazing audiobook Can’t hurt me. I consider it a must for every aspiring marathoner.
The key to a proper running mindset is self-discipline. Once you understand it and fully apply it, you are 80% the winner. Our brain is designed to act in a way that saves us from uncomfortable situations, from situations that hurt. If you decide to run a marathon you have to make decisions that are uncertain, risky, and scary.
When you wake up feeling like crap, what is your brain telling you? Skip the exercise, skip the work, let’s sleep a bit longer. This voice is your enemy. This is exactly the moment when you simply don’t listen to it and push! If you practice this mental routine, you will be shocked by what kind of mindset you develop. Every single time that the silent voice in your head tells you to get comfortable, you silence him by doing the double amount of work. This is a way to develop a real crazy mindset that you will definitely need during 26,2 miles (42,2 km) long run.
Way too long and fast training runs, #2 of marathon mistakes
Together with too quick mileage increase, too many long and fast runs during marathon training are one of the most common marathon mistakes. There are plenty of runners out there who think that the best way to prepare for a marathon is to go out and make long runs. Sounds logic right? Well maybe it does but it is wrong.
I wish I would know this earlier though! Before my first official marathon race, I ran almost full marathon distance just about 1 month prior to the race itself. I thought you actually need to run a marathon in training in order to understand what it takes. But the outcome was that I was burned out and gave up my first race after 12 miles (19 km). Learn from my marathon mistakes!
The secret to proper marathon training is to run smartly and implement some quality training runs. By quality training runs I mean interval and tempo (threshold) runs.
Tempo runs are comfortably hard runs that are designed to increase your lactate threshold. They may take from 20-60 minutes. The goal is to learn to run at steady intensity effort for a prolonged period of time. Implement these runs to build your endurance.
Interval runs are fast pace runs that stress your maximum oxygen consumption. You will try to catch your breath a lot. They consist of sets of running intervals lasting from 1 to 5 minutes followed by breaks of the same length. They are some of the hardest runs to do but the benefit is an increased speed and better running mechanics.
Implement some quality runs into your marathon training plan together with short recovery runs and long slow pace runs. If you consider learning more about the types of runs for your marathon training, look at Daniels Running Formula. The book is literally the Bible of running that many professional runners started with. Remember that every run you go for should have its own purpose!
Not keeping your pace, #3 of marathon mistakes
This particular and very common first-time but not only first-time marathoner mistake happens during the race itself. Many well-prepared marathoners end up having a terrible race experience, simply because they didn’t think of a pacing strategy. Or they come up with a strategy but as soon as the race starts, they get swept up in the crowds and the adrenaline and run way much faster than planned.
The marathon race can be very deceptive. The first couple of miles you feel you have so much energy that you can manage to run quicker than you thought. But initial optimism can change into a nightmare by the half of the race.
What is the correct pace strategy?
Most runners start slow. For the first 3-4 miles (5-6 km), you should target a pace that is 10 to 15 seconds slower per mile than your goal marathon pace. By starting slower you will conserve the critical amount of fuel and energy you will need in the second half of the race. Also, you will give yourself a better chance to absorb fluids early on.
After passing the first 3-4 miles, you may want to slowly speed up until you get to your planned marathon pace. To easily measure your improved pace, you can use this quality Amazfit band that I use by myself. You should not run quicker than you planned for the first half of the marathon race.
Finishing the race
After half of the race, you should already have a group of runners running at the same pace as you. Try to relax, don’t focus on the splits. Just stick with the group, it will help you to get through the toughest part of the race. Use your mental strength, remind yourself of any past successes in your life. It will fuel your mind and help you to move on.
3-4 miles (5-6 km) to the end! You survived the hell and still running! The last couple of miles will be tough though. But you can smell the end already, which gives you additional mental power to run. At this point, you already know that you will make it. Use the energy you have saved at the beginning, maybe you can even speed up. Give all that you have!
Hope this was useful! If you liked it, read my other article for more tips and tricks for aspiring marathoners.