So, you’ve read all the top tips on training for a marathon but do you know what you should NOT do?
Here are four common mistakes to avoid when training for a marathon.
Mistake #1: Training without data
It’s a great thing to be in tune with your body, and to run solely based on feel. However, when we’re looking at how to run a marathon, using data can only help us hit our goals.
To start, we want to have a clear sense of what our finishing time is going to be. To do this, run a half marathon 6-8 weeks before your race. This will give you the most reliable information to set your race-day goals.
Second, we want to make sure all of our runs have a purpose, and data helps tremendously with this. By measuring heart rate and/or pace, you can keep yourself honest and avoid the dreaded plateau.
Instead, use running data, such as heart rate and pace, to vary your training and to train in “zones.”
So often runners who are training regularly get comfortable on a particular route, running at a particular pace. This doesn’t help runners improve – in fact, repeating the same patterns over and over again often impedes improvement.
Some days, you’ll be training faster than race pace, getting that heart rate up for short amounts of time, teaching your legs how to turn over quickly. Other days, when you’re recovering, force yourself to run much slower than race pace so that your body can truly recover.
These strategies are going to be much more useful than simply running at the same, middle-of-the-road pace day in and day out.
Lastly, use that data to help with your recovery. The numbers will show you how hard you’ve been training, reminding you to add in a recovery day.
If you want to get more specific, use the data to track something like your resting heart rate, so you can see how well your body is adapting to your marathon training plan.
Mistake #2: Not following a proper training plan
When figuring out how to train for a marathon, a lot of training plans will be based solely on running and mileage.
Even if you’re not training for a full marathon and working through a half marathon training guide, these elements are crucial to increase speed and decrease the likelihood of injuries.
Mistake #3: Ignoring that weird pain
We all think that weird pain is going to go away. And it usually does 10 minutes into our training run, but then it often comes back stronger at the end of the day.
Ignoring the pain from the beginning is simply building bad habits but, more importantly, if you ignore the pain for too long, you wind up with a much longer recovery window than you would have needed in the first place. It can be very stressful if this happens close to race day.
A good rule of thumb:
Normal, happy, healthy tissue should feel pressure but no pain.
If you feel any pain at all, modify your running for at least the next few days – increase the mobility and rolling out of surrounding muscles, and bump up the strength work.
In general, get in the habit of doing mobility work weekly, if not daily. Cover all of your bases weekly, and hit those problem areas daily.
Mistake #4: Not completing the right amount of mileage for you
Mileage is specific to you. Many of us have fallen into the trap of “Strava stalking,” where we like to look at other people’s mileage and try to work it into our own training. Doing this can create some serious “FOMO” (fear of missing out), but you need to stick to your training plan at the end of the day.
On the other hand, if you need to cut back your mileage because of an injury or pain somewhere, it’s okay. Remember, we’re after the right amount of mileage for you.
And keep in mind that recovery is just as important as the long runs. Whether you’re injured or not, you always want to ensure that you are pushing yourself hard enough, but that you’re not over-exerting yourself.
Overdoing it with the training repeatedly can cause sickness and injury, which can set you back much more than just scaling back a run or workout one day.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.