Don’t Make These Marathon Training Mistakes!

Posted by in News

Tweet from @blerky: Dear @fitness, I’m training for my first marathon in Oct. Any advice? How’d you get @theferf to survive it?

First, Congratulations! Running a marathon is an amazing experience! Both the training and the race really test your strength, physically and emotionally. We made several mistakes but also did several things right on our first marathon. I’m going to tell you what I learned so you can avoid these issues. Every runner will have their own tale…

Marathon Training Tips:

1) Running Shoes
This was my poison. For starters, I wear kids size shoes that aren’t designed for marathon training support and intensity. My shoes just didn’t make the cut and ended up costing me 2 years of knee injury and pain. Never settle for a cheap pair of shoes, the cost in the long run is just too much. I recommend going to one of those running stores that has the testing equipment to watch your stride and make shoe recommendations. I did this at the very end and did get a better pair of shoes but ultimately found out that my knees feel much better with the VFF nearly barefoot shoes.

2) Training Program
Find a marathon running plan and stick with it. We used the Hal Higdon marathon training guides and had great results. The runs weren’t too strenuous over the work week and the long runs really helped us with endurance. This is great for a runner with minimal training time!

3) Fuel Your Body!
I’m not a drink water or eat supplements while I workout person but this is an exception!  We did a few too many longer runs without these and boy were we hurting. I think on one run, Chris had to get a Gatorade at the gas station because he was so light-headed… not good! Don’t wait until you are hurting to drink or do shots/blocks – time them out and stick with your plan during the race. (Trying new things on race day can lead to an upset stomach!)

Side Note: It might seem awesome that the marathon is going to have stands of gels, goos and drinks and so you think that you don’t need to pack your own. I have never ran a race that had stands in every location they had previously stated or enough to cover the masses. This was a huge issue in a Chicago marathon several years back and people were keeling over and stopping at bodegas to get fuel – don’t RELY on anyone to keep you hydrated and safe. I really liked the Clif Shot Blocks with caffeine. Chris preferred the Goos and Cytomax.

4) Mind Over Everything
One of the biggest obstacles is thinking you can’t make the distance or just getting so bored during the training that you finish early.  Running with someone, making friends on race day, having a kickass playlist and concentrating on other things will make the time and the miles go by faster. I’m not sure if your mind plays tricks on you or if your body is just so exerted that it does funny things but I’ll never forget running in the rain and crying at mile 18 for no apparent reason. I think I literally went through every emotion in those 5 hours but in the end it was determination to finish and meet my goals that had me sprinting for the last 3 miles (I don’t recommend this!) and over that finish line.

5) There is ME in TEAM.
I think it is an understood rule in these situations that if you need to fly solo, you can and no one can complain. I’m all for teams and encouragement but if you are feeling that you need to go faster or slower, then do what YOU have to do to get it done. Remember that this is YOUR marathon!

6) Comfort
Pick an outfit and whatever pack you are going to wear and practice a long run in it so that you know that it will be comfortable on the day of the marathon. We did this and I only ended up with 1 blister (sports bras and rain don’t mix).  Be sure to use glide to avoid chafing and blisters! Arms, legs, chest, feet… the last thing you need is to have to change your gait because you hurt!

A couple of other working out tips when you are training and then I’ll stop rambling. Make sure to cross train and stretch as part of your marathon training. We skipped cross training several times due to time constraints and I think it was a big contributor to my knee issues and Chris’ shin splints. I also recommend telling everyone you know that you are going to run a marathon and maybe even your goal time so that you are held accountable after the fact. Also, don’t forget to keep track of your own time. When you cross each mile, they will have a time there but it started when the very first person started running, not when you crossed the start line. I didn’t hit the start button when I crossed and ended up doing addition and subtraction the whole trying to figure out where I was with my time and pace. Most importantly, be smart, safe and have a ton of fun throughout the journey!  Good Luck!

Here are some other resources for Marathon Training Tips:

Love This Post? Subscribe to the Newsletter!