5 surprising marathon mistakes

Errors you need to avoid on race day

Is it time to start thinking about your marathon race strategy and what to do on race day? If so, take a look at these five surprising marathon mistakes to make sure you’re not making any race-changing errors:

You misjudge your pace

Now you have probably heard a lot about the marathon and what to do and what not to do. The number one thing I can recommend is the pacing for the marathon. The marathon is a long way, and half way (13.1 miles) really shouldn't be considered half way. If you feel good at the half way stage, don't be fooled into thinking you can crack on and pick up the pace. More likely than not you'll hit 20 miles and then have a long hard slog to the finish. If you are feeling good at half way, just be happy in the knowledge that you feel good and wait until 20 miles. If you still feel good at 20 miles then you can increase the pace and see it through to the finish! Just remember, half way isn't half way when it comes to the marathon. 

You become dehydrated

You may or may not have practiced drinks during the build up to the marathon, and if you haven't, it isn't too much of a big deal but shame on you. You’ve had weeks to practice so what's your excuse?! Anyway, drinks will be available on the course and it is important to take these on board even if you feel like you don't need them. The more you can drink early on the better you'll be later on in the race. Keeping the body hydrated as much as possible during the early stages of the race can be crucial. When you feel like you are thirsty it is already too late, you’re dehydrated. So take on board more than just a sip of liquid during the first half of the race.

You don’t wear the right kit

When you are standing on the start line and you look down at your shoes it shouldn't be the first time you have seen them on your feet. You want to have done at least a couple of runs in your marathon shoes. This is advice you have probably heard a thousand times before but it is quite surprising how many people wear shoes for the first time during the marathon. It is just asking for trouble wearing shoes that you haven't worn before, especially over a distance that you might never have run before.

You don’t dress for the weather

Clothing is as important as your running shoes during the marathon. The temperature on race day can greatly depend on what you wear during the race. You’re going to be stood waiting for the start for quite a while before the gun goes and you’ll see lots of people chucking clothing during the first five minutes of the race. My advice is to wear something that you are not going to worry about never seeing again. Make sure you keep warm before the start and then shed the layers once you start.

You don’t fuel your body correctly

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is just as important on race day. This is what's going to fuel you for the marathon. You should have practiced what you are going to eat beforehand, to make sure you don't have any "issues" with eating and then running. You should eat what you normally eat before running and not change this just because you happen to be running a marathon! For me personally it is getting the caffeine intake just right, not too much so that I have problems before the race has finished.

Hopefully these tips help prevent you from making mistakes leading up to the marathon.

Editorial credit: sportpoint / Shutterstock.com

Written by Scott Overall

Scott is a British long distance athlete who represented Team GB at the 2012 Olympics. His marathon PB is currently 2:10:55.


Comments (3)

  • BrianSweeny 'I didn't` start running until I was 48 years old , I done all kinds of running, except track, I did do some track training , but only ever run one race on track, but I have run, roads, cross country and fell running, I run 11 London marathons , And I cant agree with Scott's advice on hydration, Quote from above ( important to take these on board even if you feel like you don't need them. The more you can drink early on the better you'll be later on in the race ) I took this advice when I started Marathon running, yes, you must keep Hydrated , but don't take on more than you need, I made this mistake in the beginning, drinking at every drinks station, but , by the time you get to 18 / 20 miles I felt so uncomfortable, I could feel the water sloshing about in my stomach, and didn't feel better at the end, but worse ,what I started doing after some experimentation was, on race day I would get up in the morning, have a couple of slices of toast along with black tea, I would make up 4 bottles of my favourite sports drink , made in the same bottles they hand out during the race, I stayed with my sister in Lewisham for the race, so I would drink one full bottle, then walk to Blackheath for the start of the race, 15 minutes before the start , I would down another bottle of my drink, the other two bottles I would carry with me , and have a sip as, and when I wanted, during the race , these two bottles would see me over 20 miles ,and I would feel great at the end of the race, I992 and 1993 I came 2nd in my age category, 1994 , I won my age category time 2 hours 40.48, Age 57.'

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  • carolinekulemeka 'Thank you for this , it's my first one and tried a few strategies. What works is similar to this actually so was worried that I might need to over drink but 2 bottles were enough when I did my last 24mile session with drinking before the run 😄'

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  • sw16 'Well the problem is that 'just right' for every individual is different. What you need to know, is how much fluid per hour do you lose in sweat & breathing ? Ideally during training you should be able to work this out by comparing your weight before & after a long run ( allowing for the amount of drink consumed during the run). Then you know how much fluid to replace during a marathon. Mine is about 500ml per hour on temperate days and 550-575 on warmer days. so I start with a 500ml bottle which I sip gradually over the first hour, then pick up another 500ml bottle from aid stations as the race progresses, safe in the knowledge I am not over or under drinking. I like Scott, found that caffeine intake - to activate fat in the bloodstream, so that it can be used as an energy source before the body resorts to glycogen stored in muscles - is crucial. My dietician advised me to drink 2 double espresso's shortly before the start, which amazingly enables me to keep going right to the end, when without it, I always die at about 19-22 miles with a lack of energy.'

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