Don’t let these 7 mistakes ruin your marathon

Don’t let these 7 mistakes ruin your marathon

You may be one of the tens of thousands of runners who have been training religiously for the upcoming Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Now, just a few weeks away, you’re feeling good about your prep and positive about your performance.

But experts say, the devil may be in the details and a few common mistakes could derail your hopes for great race.

health enews checked in with Dr. Charles Crotteau, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group and an avid runner, for his best advice on avoiding these 7 common marathon pitfalls. Dr. Crotteau has completed 25 marathons and has a personal best of 2:56.

Here are the trouble spots to avoid, Dr. Crotteau says:

Starting too fast
Going out too fast is one of the most common errors on race day. With all the energy of the start and the roar of the crowd, it can be challenging to hold back your pace. Don’t push too hard too soon.

Setting an unrealistic time goal
It is critical to set attainable goals. The weather itself can easily alter your goal—unexpected high or low temperatures will typically force a runner to adjust their goal time. You risk injury straining to beat an unrealistic goal.

Combining a sports drink and a gel during the run
Race day is not the ideal time to try new nutrition or hydration strategies.  Go with what you and your body know. Combining gels and sports drinks can wreak havoc on your digestion.

Racing with new shoes
Shoe turnover is important for runners; distance runners cannot use the same shoes year after year. However, race day is not the time to break in a new pair of shoes.

Eating the wrong foods for breakfast on race day
One the most overlooked aspects of pre-race nutrition is the meal on the morning of your race. A decent breakfast of quality carbohydrate and protein that your GI system is already familiar with is key.

Not tapering miles properly before race day
As race day approaches, many athletes are tempted to make up for a missed workout or perceived weakness with additional miles or training. The time before your race [usually the last 7-10 days] is the time to taper and rest, not to add new stresses on your body.

Dressing improperly
When you race in the autumn in the Midwest, temps may be in the 30s at the start; three to five hours later, they may have warmed into the 60s or beyond.  A strategy for choosing your race day “uniform”, based on your comfort in the weather forecast for your race, is something to seriously consider.

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  1. These are all great tips. I’d add: Calculate the calories you’ll need out on the course. I am a fairly slow runner, and I should have taken more gel packs with me to keep my energy up over the nearly 5 hours it took me to run 26.2 miles.

  2. Agree with Ariel that these are some great tips. I would only add that you should make a checklist of everything you need for race day to ensure you don’t forget anything.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.