Common Marathon Training Plan Mistakes

Waiting for family and friends at the finish line.

So you have signed up for a marathon.

You have decided to put your name down for a full marathon so now you need to train yourself up for the race. Regardless of whether you are an experienced runner or a newbie, you’ll probably know that having a marathon training plan is very important. But in their training plans, many runners may make mistakes in their marathon training plan. Here are some of the more common marathon training plan mistakes.

Ignoring Long Runs due to other commitments

It is very important to do your weekly long run if you are training for a full marathon. Do not try and discount the importance of these. If you are going on a weekend trip or a family outing during your usual long run days, try and work your long run in on another day of the week.

One week of missing out on a long run can easily become two consecutive weeks, and two can turn into three and so on. This is one of the biggest mistakes that runners may make.

Doing these long training runs will help you to get a feel for the 42km race distance as well as helping you to achieve your desired timing. At the same time, it will also help you get used to the constant pounding on the pavement that you will experience during the race itself.

Not Training For Long Enough

Many runners may sign themselves up for the marathon or half marathon without thinking about the consequences – and then only beginning their training about one or two months before the race. This is definitely not enough preparation and an ill-advised marathon training plan.

If you are a first-timer at marathon running, it is advisable that you start training about four to six months before the race to gradually build up your mileage. Sure, there are programmes that needs only two or three months training but these are too short. They might get you through the race, but they are most probably overworking your muscles and may lead to problems such as muscle and bone aches later in life.

Minimise your rest breaks during long runs

During their long training runs, many runners tend to take plenty of rest breaks to go to the toilet, have some water or to cross the traffic lights. But on the race day itself, they may run the full distance without taking any breaks.

Do remember that a long run with plenty of resting time in between, does not equate to the same thing as a continuous long training run without breaks. So try and minimise any unnecessary rest breaks during your long runs.

Of course, not stopping at all is impossible, because there are traffic lights to cross and sometimes you really do need to use the toilet. But try not to take unnecessary breaks. By minimising your rest breaks during your training runs and trying to mimic the actual race atmosphere during trainings, it will put your body in a much better position to complete the race.

Carbohydrate Loading in the Wrong Manner

Many runners wrongly believe that carbohydrate loading is simply about eating a big plate of carbs, such as pasta, the night before a race. But this is not going to be enough carbs to keep you going throughout the race.

Instead, you should try and eat a total of 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of your body weight – in the few days leading up to the race. This is certainly a lot of carbs, but it will ensure that your body won’t run out of glycogen (a form of carbohydrate that gets converted to energy) stores during the race itself.

Not tending to injuries properly

Injuries are definitely common in marathon running and training and it’s not possible to avoid injury completely. But in their haste to stick religiously to a training plan, many runners don’t let themselves recover fully from an injury and try to run again before they are fully healed. Or else they may just keep running through the injury and pain barrier – and turn a small injury into something much bigger.

The danger of this is that it may lead to recurring injuries that could put you out of running altogether. So listen to what your body is telling you and heed the warning signs of a potential injury. If something starts to hurt during a training run, stop immediately. Don’t continue that run. Go straight home, rest and deal with the pain before you start running again.

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  • NWS says:

    Your first two points on not ignoring long runs and having adequate training (in short,having a good running base) are very important reminders 🙂

    Unlike short runs (which i define below 10km), long training runs are required to get the body physically and mentally adjusted so that one doesn’t get the shock/surprise of running the actual full marathon distance.

    A good running base is definitely a must and it helps to do actual running races or free time trials progressively before attempting a full marathon (i.e. a 10km race progressively up to at least doing a few half marathon will be good).

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