Last Updated: February 9th, 2021
Want to make all those ouch and aha make sense?
Then run your first marathon like a champion.
Most first-timers are guilty of these common mistakes.
Avoiding this list of 26.2 mistakes will launch you on the right trajectory.
Without further ado, let’s begin…
26.2 First-Time Marathon Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
Running a Marathon for the first is a great feeling. However, to not spoil the experience, avoid these First-Time Marathon mistakes. You will cherish this memory for the rest of your life.
So that you know, since the time I’ve written this article, I came up with 26.2 more first-time marathon mistakes list which I’ve gathered from my friends and fellow runners of my local club.
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1.Having Unrealistic Time Goals
If you have read my article, “how to improve running stamina in 2 weeks“, you know that improving running endurance is not hard.
However, marathon needs more endurance than your 5-K, 10-K or Half marathon.
Trying to run it in the same way you run for a 5-K will make your performance worse.
So what do you do?
Let’s say your current time is 25:00 for 5-K
Which means you run around 8 min/mile
Then, for a Marathon, you should aim for something like 8:48/mile
The general rule is, per mile, try to be 48 sec slower than your 5-K, 32 Sec slower than your 10-K or 16 sec slower than your half-marathon timing.
2. Give Yourself Plenty of Time at the Start
You are running a 5-K…
The race day is here…
You show up at the starting line and just start…
For a marathon, this approach doesn’t work as it is a very big race.
Also, in recent years the number of participants has increased dramatically.
So, you must show up early.
The queue near the washrooms will be long and if you need to use it multiple times then you are gone…. (WOW! that rhymed… :P)
Also, check the race’s website to find out how much early they recommend you to reach the venue.
Alternatively, you can talk to the runners who have already participated in the race earlier.
This will give you a clear picture.
3. Not Practicing The Goal-Pace Timing
During their long run sessions, many marathoners, try a much slower speed than their goal-pace.
However, your endurance is much dependent on the speed you are practicing.
This is one of the recommended endurance running training methods by many coaches.
If you shoot for an 8 min/mile during practice, you cannot expect to run at 7 min/mile during your race day.
A better approach is to try to run at least half the miles at 7 min/mile during your long run sessions.
This will build up your endurance for your race day.
4. Trying To Run A Marathon Every Weekend
Let’s face it!
Marathon running takes a lot from your side.
Isn’t it a great idea to practice it every weekend.
At least you will build the required endurance.
Only if….the answer was so simple.
It is always recommended to runway less, like 1 mile per day following your marathon for 21 days.
Marathon leaves your muscles extremely tired.
So, when you try to do tempo runs on Mondays or Strength training on Tuesdays, your muscles will give up!
This is due to the fatigue that is there from Sunday’s Marathon practice.
But let’s be very clear…You still need to practice for your Marathon.
Only, try a different approach…
Run every other weekend or every third week.
This will give your muscles, sufficient time to recover.
Along with this, if you focus on strengthening your hips, your performance will automatically be improved.
This article shows you step by step on how to perform hip flexor strengthening exercises for runners.
5. Not being consistent in training!
Like any other skill, marathon running is also a skill. It needs practice.
So, you have to train consistently.
If you don’t train, or fail to show up just because you did not feel like, you are setting yourself up for a very bad failure.
One that may even lead to injury.
To achieve this in a short time, my best bet will be to hire a professional coach.
They can provide you with guidance, tailored specifically to you.
And no matter what…SHOW UP! and keep your commitment to yourself.
Half of your battle is won, if you consistently show up
6. No Minimalism
Don’t get me wrong…
Minimalist running shoes are great.
They help runners to improve their speed due to their lightweight and responsiveness.
But for someone like me, who is a total beginner, it’s a bad idea to use a minimalist shoe.
For two reasons…
First, I don’t know what I’m up against and secondly, due to my inexperience, the chances of getting injured are more.
So, remember, no minimalism for first-timers. Instead, you can pick something from the top-rated running shoes for heavy runners.
They will cushion you well and will keep your feet protected. Also, your feet will not get fatigued easily.
7. Body Glide…Body Glide…Body Glide…
When you run a marathon, you sweat a lot…and by a lot I mean…A LOT!
So, your skin becomes more prone to chaffing due to the extra moisture from your sportswear or undergarments
A clean-cut will hurt less than a chaffed skin. (Have been a sportsman in my school days…This is sheer experience speaking :P)
You don’t want to walk awkwardly afterward for wrong reasons 😉
BodyGlide will be your savior….in fact a copious amount of Vaseline will also do…
But no matter what…use some form of lube…
Now, what is this?
And why shhh…
Well, when you are running for a marathon, your body is hyperactive
And so is your nervous system…
So, you pass a lot of gas…. aka YOU FART…A LOT! 😛
If you make too much noise, you will either get a lot of stares or will disgust the next runner.
So, relax!!! and fart…but silently 😉
9. Sports Drinks…are your partner in crime…
Most of the runners who have sports drinks do it at a later stage of the race.
But to start working, these drinks take at-least 10 min.
So, you may be way past the finish line before you get your first kick.
To make them perform better, you must start the race only after drinking 8 to 10 ounces of the drink.
Then after every 2 miles, you should have 5 to 6 ounces of the drink for the entire period of the race.
In this article, I’ve written about how and when to take energy gels during the marathon…which one is safe and how much water each brand of running gels require.
It has a downloadable printable for easy reference.
10. Eat to Perform
Did you know that you can use food to build stamina for running?
Yes, you can use food to boost your performance, and this is the same for pre-race meals.
However, pre-race meals should be something that is easy for you to digest.
It should have enough amount of carbs that will act as your fuel for running.
However, don’t load it with too much fat or grease…
The food should not revolt once reaching your stomach.
Additional tip: To get your body used to this kind of meal, eat this before your “long-run” training sessions as well and with the same lead-time as you will do on your marathon running day
This will lessen the chances of a revolt in your stomach.
11. Take It Easy
You are running a marathon for the first time.
So, this one is special. The first time will never come again.
So enjoy the process.
Though you should strive to achieve your goal, but running and finishing a marathon is an incredible feat in itself.
So enjoy it…bask in the glory and be incredibility proud of yourself.
12.No Experiments on Race Day
This is what my mother used to say when for my exams.
Being an adventurous kid, I had a habit of experimenting in the exam…like writing answers for questions which were new for me…and ignore the known one…just for kicks…
This was incredibly stupid of me.
Though as a grown-up I’ve understood that now, but I see many marathoners do this same mistake over and over again.
So, don’t try to do this when you run your first marathon.
You have trained hard for it…so stick to what you have learned and execute the plan.
Trying something new, like a new speed, new gear or even a new shoe can affect your performance to a great degree.
13. Don’t be a hare..be a tortoise…
You are well rested from the previous night.
You feel strong and invincible.
On the race day, out of overconfidence, you launch yourself too fast like a hare.
You didn’t care about your mileage or your training…you just satisfied your whim.
And, you must also set yourself up for failure.
On the morning of the race day, you will feel strong as you are well rested the previous night…but you should control your urge to start out too fast.
This will conserve your energy and will give you a better mileage at the later stages of the race.
14. Not Cross-Training
Cross-training is very important for running.
A strong hip and core will support your entire body during running.
This will also, prevent you from getting injured.
However, many of us don’t cross-train.
A simple core and hip workout can help you immensely.
So don’t be that runner, who knows the benefit, yet shy away from Cross Training.
15. Not KISSing Your Nutrition
Keep It Simple Silly…
This should be your motto when it comes to nutrition.
You don’t need a fancy new diet routine to pair it up with your runner lifestyle.
You just need to eat a healthy, nutrition meal…
Eat breakfast, don’t skip meals, have a sufficient amount of water…
Also, there is another extreme of runners when it comes to nutrition.
Since they are doing a lot of cardio, they think that they can eat whatever they want.
Your body needs nutrition, not some junk fillers.
16.Taper not Expand…
The long-run takes a lot of your physical and mental resources.
To recover from an 18 to 20 miles run takes around 4 weeks.
So, 4 weeks before the
You should run your 80% mileage on the 4th week preceding the marathon
60% on 3rd Week,
40% on the 2nd week and
25% on the previous week preceding the marathon.
17.Quality Over Volume
To run a marathon effectively, we need to plan and train for it well.
But trying to run 70 miles per week or a marathon every weekend is not cool…
Instead, you should try to have a 35 mile per week mileage.
Also, try to run 10 miles at your goal speed during your long run days.
This will ensure that you have a great running form and preparation during your race day
If your body needs it…give it…
Needing rest doesn’t make you weaker.
This only makes you stronger by giving you a chance to recover.
If your muscles are fatigued you will never be able to perform in a race.
So, getting proper rest and recovering is most important
19. If you are Fit, you will succeed
To succeed as a Marathoner, you have to be physically fit.
As per Active.com, to achieve this, your VO2max, your lactate threshold, your running strength, and your marathon-specific preparations should be in place.
Only then you can have a great performance during the race.
If you don’t improve on all these factors, you will never be able to perform at an optimal level.
Running a marathon is not only about running long miles…it is much more…
20. Walking will not improve your performance
If I tell you to run slowly in between the race to improve your performance, will you agree?
Nope…mostly you will argue against it
Then why do you buy the idea that walking in a marathon will improve your performance
Instead, why not try to run at a conversational pace..when you need to catch your breath…
Try this now..you can thank me later…
21.Getting Caught In Taper Madness
Here I’ve explained why tapering is important.
However, due to that reduced amount of running, you tend to feel guilty…
What do you do?
You try to over-train, shop sportswear unnecessarily and so many other things…
If you find yourself doing any of these, take a deep breath and meditate.
22. Use A Decent Shoe…
I know as a first-timer, you may not want to splurge on a shoe…
But believe me, a good pair of shoes goes a long way…
It will save your feet from the harsh roads and also, will give you proper support while running…
And you will be spared the pain of twisted ankles and chipped nails…
So, invest in a good pair of running shoes during your training (Remember, nothing new on the race day…) and use the same for your race day.
Also, it doesn’t have to be something expensive, you can go for something like ASICS Gel-Venture, which is excellent in performance and easy on the pocket.
23. Looking Sexy…Ain’t Good…
Marathon is not like any other race…
You cannot just wear your compression tights and a skimpy sports bra and go running…
You would need a lot of stuff handy..like a hydration bottle, room for some extra gears…etc.
So, dress practically for this occasion…
Rather than looking good, staying alive is more important 😉
24. Mind your Socks…
Socks are very important when it comes to running…
Your really nice pair of shoes will be useless if you use a cheap pair of socks.
These will keep moving with every stride and you will end up with painful blisters.
Also, if you wear a decent pair of compression socks….with their graduated compression, they can save you from a whole lot of pain after the race.
And, wearing them will also aid in your post-race recovery as they improve the return blood flow to the heart and removes lactates from the bloodstream.
Win in Bites…
Thinking about the finishing post in the beginning?
I dare not…
A beginner like me will get cold feet…
But, what if, you can divide up the race into smaller bites?
Oh..it will be a lot easier to
So, request your family members to be at key places, like let’s say at every 5 miles…
This will help you stretch a bit more and go for that extra mile…
Also, the happiness that you will get from their support is incredible…
To finish a marathon is an incredible en-devour to take up…
Congratulate yourself on that…
However, to accomplish this goal…you need to conserve your energy as much as possible.
Like why the wind is blowing so hard, will I get tanned…
Oh! what is Ricky having for his lunch…
When in the race, you cannot do anything about it…
So, why stress?
Just focus on your goal..that is finishing the marathon with a decent time.
26.1.One Extra Pair of Headphones
The best thing about electronics is, they will not work when you need them the most
Or if you are using a Bluetooth headset, the battery may run out…
Or something unusual may happen…
So, make sure, you pack another pair of headphones with you.
This will help you to bypass any such situations…
Have a post-run recovery plan…
It is hellishly painful after the marathon…
The muscles will start to fatigue and you will not want to move beyond your bed after the race.
Best is to have 1 or 2 days off completely.
They start stretching and moving gradually
Nutritious meals should be your top priority as your body needs to rebuild itself
Try to avoid First-Time Marathon Mistakes and you will emerge out of the race, nice and strong.
No matter what, enjoy your first experience.
What is that one mistake that you think you should not have committed during your first marathon?
Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.
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