Marathon Training? Avoid These 5 Common Pitfalls

Are you planning to run an upcoming marathon? Even for the most seasoned of runners, the smallest change to your training can throw you off track. To get to the starting line primed, ready, and injury free, read our tips to avoid the most common pitfalls runners fall into, so you can make the most of your training time.

Training too much or training too little

Leading up to the days before the race, you might be tempted to push yourself to the max with each workout. But this could leave you exhausted, sore, or worse, injured. In contrast, you may think you can rely on adrenaline instead of proper training to keep you going mile after mile—a costly mistake which may impede your ability to finish the race at all. To sustain your running and achieve your goals, you need to stick to a well-developed training plan that’s individualized to your current level of fitness and capabilities.

Not adapting your training to the conditions of the race

Just because you can log mile after mile on breezy trails at high altitudes doesn’t mean you’re ready to race on long stretches of pavement in humid weather, or vice versa. One mistake you can make is thinking that just because you trained hard on one type of terrain, your training automatically translates to other environments as well. Many times, this may not be the case.

Your body needs to learn how to adjust to a variety of training environments, so try to mimic the terrain and temperatures as best you can. The closer you can train to the conditions on the actual race day, the better your body will be at adapting to the course.

Overlooking the importance of rest days

Although it may not be in your nature to take a day off, rest days are a critical part of preparing for a marathon to avoid burnout, help your body recover, and reduce the risk of injuries. Consider integrating at least one rest day a week into your marathon schedule. Contrary to the beliefs of many health enthusiasts, resting won’t make you weak; it will repair and recharge your body for a more challenging workout.

Discounting the benefits of variety in your workout  

In a 2017 interview with The Guardian, UK-based coaching consultant, Tom Craggs, said another mistake a lot of runners make is not incorporating enough variety into the training schedule to avoid plateaus and maximize energy expenditure. “The mistake is doing most of your running in a narrow band of paces, sticking to a steady pace without enough variety. Slowing down and doing interval training helps the body adapt. Instead of doing everything in one block, we break it into smaller chunks and gradually increase them,” he advised.

Trying something new before race day

Sure, you want to set a new PR on marathon day, but don’t give in to the allure of a sports drink, a supplement, food, or a training technique making claims that it will improve your speed or stamina. Switching up your routine right before race day could backfire and have some unanticipated consequences. Instead, keep your training schedule the same—this includes food and water consumption, use of supplements or hydration drinks, and footwear. A marathon weekend isn’t the time to try out something different.

Whether you’re running a half or a full marathon, you’ve designated a good portion of your time and energy to this event. If you plan accordingly, you can avoid these common challenges many runners face.

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