I have a lot of people telling me that they've just decided to run a marathon. To this I usually reply, "Great! When is it?" Half of the time the response is, "Next month." Yikes.
This is why I was thrilled to see that Forbes.com (of all people) has compiled this fabulous list of rookie training mistakes. I wanted to share in case a 26.2 mile run is in your near future.
- Not Enough Time/A Bad Plan: Experts' advice on how long you need to train for a marathon differs. Some say you should have one to two years of prior running experience before starting to train, while others say four to six months of targeted training will do the trick. Consider your fitness level and what you're looking to get out of the experience. Whatever you choose, commit to your plan.
- Over-training: It's natural to think that more training is better. But some runners get trapped in the mind-set that if they're not sore all the time, they're not deriving any benefits. On the contrary, experts say that over-training overlooks the body's need to rest, especially in the last few weeks leading up to a race. You also may end up losing your motivation to run.
- Dehydration: Experts suggest drinking about half a cup of water every one or two miles. Of course, if you feel liquid sloshing around in your stomach, slow it down a little. You should also consider eating some form of carbohydrate or electrolyte fuel source, such as a gel, every 45 minutes or so to keep up your energy level.
- The Wrong Shoes: The best advice on picking the right shoes for a marathon is to turn to an expert. Sneakers today are designed not just for the shape of the foot, but the unique ways they move. Head to a store that's been around for a while and have the owner check out your gait. Also, keep an eye on the mileage you're putting on your shoes. Consider changing them every three to four months.
- No Mental Preparation: To prepare for the mental strain of the big day, rehearse in advance some positive affirmations you can recite to yourself after early mile markers. If you hit a tough mile and have to slow down, praise yourself for taking control of the situation to keep up your positive mind-frame. Also, head for the race armed with conversation topics and a juicy story to distract yourself and a friend.