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Mistakes Marathon Runners Need to Avoid

Joe Fleming explains the 10 common mistakes marathon runners need to avoid.

On paper, long distance running does seem like the perfect variation of exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of this enjoyable activity include weight loss and stress relief while reducing the risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, strokes, and certain types of cancer. What is more, you do not even require a membership card to get involved. Simply put on your shoes, open your door, and go!

However, there are still some simple mistakes that even the most seasoned of marathon runners overlook, and these can cause a plethora of persistent health issues if not adequately considered. With that in mind, here are 10 of the most common mishaps you should be wary of during your marathon training.

Your Training is Too Repetitive

By its very nature, running is a repetitive practice which places continuous stress on the same areas of the body. The longer this force is constantly absorbed by your bones and joints, the higher your risk is of developing an injury such as runner's knee or tiny foot fractures. Balance out your fitness schedule by participating in different exercises between sessions such as yoga or weight training. You can also minimize the ceaseless impact of running by mixing up your routine, either with a change of pace or terrain while rotating your footwear. And remember: never increase the intensity of your workouts by more than 10% each week.

You Rely Too Heavily on Technology

With all the heart rate monitors, social media sharing, and distance measuring apps available on your smartphone or smartwatch, it is easy to forget that you did not start running for these reasons. Certainly, an in-depth analysis of your progress can be very beneficial, but when you are running to beat a score then you might miss out on the important messages that your body parts are sending you. Take a technological break every now and then to relearn your natural pacing.

You Favour Designer Shoes

Of course, if designer shoes fit your foot properly, by all means, go ahead and make that purchase. However, the look (or the brand name) of the shoe should never be your priority, as the incorrect footwear can lead to many show-stopping injuries such as plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome, or tendonitis of the knee. Always ensure that your shoes are fitted by a professional, double check that you have the sufficient arch support you require and replace your running gear regularly.

You Eat Whatever You Want

It is no secret that running can zap those calories at a rapid rate, but a balanced diet is still essential in maintaining a body which functions at its very peak. The idea that one can eat whatever they like simply because they are a runner is a dangerous myth at best. It does not matter what your lifestyle is like; if you are regularly visiting the junk food store, you are still going to put on weight. Keeping track of your meals is one of the simplest methods of improving your running game.

You are Wearing Cotton

From jogger's nipple to blisters to chafing, the friction between the skin and clothing are common enemies for all runners regardless of distance. Synthetic materials (such as spandex and polyester) should be chosen, as they are known to better absorb sweat and can come in odour resistant variations. Cotton, on the other hand, is famous for its uncomfortable rubbing properties. Either way, you should always consider the application of chafing cream before you reach the starting line.

You are Ignoring the Pain

You may seem like the strong man/woman when you push through the pain, but in truth, you are only setting yourself up for a much greater deal of damage. A certain degree of ache is expected and will be experienced by most runners from time to time, but it is important to stop what you are doing and listen to your body immediately. Take a break or visit a medical professional if you are still hurting after a few days.

You are Running with Your Back to the Traffic

According to the UK Department of Transport, pedestrians count for 24% of all road related fatalities (based on their 2015 report). Drivers may not always see you, hence why running towards the cars is a much safer option, giving you the chance to see them first and to move out of their way in ample time. This is even more imperative during night runs, as well as wearing your highest visibility clothing just in case.

You are Skipping Your Warm-Ups or Rest Days

One of the biggest dangers to a runner can be over-enthusiasm. If you are so excited to get out there that you decide that your warm-ups are a waste of time, then you are doing your body a great disservice. You need to prepare your muscles and blood flow to avoid injury and to perform at your absolute best. On that same topic, you must take days off to rejuvenate, otherwise, your body will force you to when trauma strikes.

You are Training on an Empty Stomach

If you enjoy a quick run in the morning, then you will probably be fine with nothing more than a stomach filled with water. However, it is a much better idea to eat a small meal (around 500 calories) 90 minutes before you make the mission, as this will grant your digestive system a head start and provide you with the much-needed fuel to smash your goals. Common pre-marathon food choices include bananas, energy bars, peanut butter bagels, or bowls of oatmeal.

You are Trying Something Different Before the Big Day

If your marathon is moments away, now is not the time to give something new a try. Do not experiment with a new breakfast or dinner the night before. Do not use a new pair of shoes. Do not alter your running technique. Do not purchase a new sports drink to consume during your run. Do you need to follow the exact routine you have been training with, otherwise, what was the point?


Page Reference

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  • FLEMING, J. (2018) Mistakes Marathon Runners Need to Avoid [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/articles/article365.htm [Accessed

About the Author

Joe Fleming is the President at ViveHealth.com. Passionate about healthy lifestyles and living a full life, he enjoys sharing and expressing these interests through his writing. With a goal to inspire others and fight ageism, Joe writes to help people of all backgrounds and ages overcome life's challenges. His work ranges from articles on wellness, holistic health and ageing to social narratives, motivational pieces and news stories. For Joe, helping others is vital.

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