The Biggest Marathon Training Mistakes to Avoid by Running Smarter [4]

biggest marathon training mistakes

Biggest Marathon Training Mistakes

In this episode, you’ll discover the biggest marathon training mistakes and how to avoid them by running smarter

These marathon running ‘time bombs’ put you at risk of wasting months of hard training.

And to help you avoid blowing up in the marathon itself…

Grab your FREE Race Tactics Checklist now!

Read Full Transcript

Mark: When we were chatting before you said there are a number of threats that marathon runners face virtually every time they put their running shoes on.

Dave: Absolutely Mark. In fact I’ve boiled it down to five, the five biggest threats to marathon success.

Mark: Excellent, give us the first one. What’s the first issue that most runners face virtually all the time.

Poor Marathon Preparation

Dave: Yeah, the first one is Workouts Not Being ‘Marathon-Proofed’.

I’ve coined this term ‘marathon-proofing’ because I passionately believe, and the evidence backs this up, that you need to protect both your body, your mind, and even get the logistics right before you’re able to take on marathon-specific training.

And then actually run the event itself. You do need to look very, very carefully at the toil that your body is taking every time you go out of the door and train.

You make sure you’ve got the right mindset for what is going to be at the minimum a 12 week (one would hope it would be longer) period of preparation.

Then what comes with that of course is the logistics…

We’ve all got super-busy lives, we’ve got work commitments, we’ve got family. We need to make sure that we’ve got adequate time to train properly.

Mark: As a top tip then what would you say is one of the ways that someone can really make the best use of their time?

Dave: I would say that they plan a period of time when they’re strengthening their body and protecting it by doing the right cross-training or flexibility work, and also look at their technique.

Technique is really important.

Then making sure that you’ve got a schedule that dovetails nicely with the rest of your life.

Mark: Okay, so in other words then, marathon running’s not all about running.

Dave: No, it’s absolutely not all about running.

Obviously running is very important, we all know about the importance of endurance as a principal component in marathon success.

But you need to be able to get through however many weeks that you’ve planned and then get through the 26 miles.

You need more than just running to get yourself through that.

Marathon Time Breakthrough… The reason I coined that name is it’s also a breakthrough in how you manage your time to actually train for the marathon.

It’s not just about the ultimate outcome which of course is running a faster time.

Mark: Yeah. I suppose that’s obvious really, if I sort of sit and think about it, as I say I’m not a runner.

That’s a great tip, it’s about cross training, it’s about flexibility, it’s about what else?

Dave: Strength. Core strength is absolutely vital, and it’s also about technique.

Too many people overlook this… just think how many strides there are in a marathon campaign and then the race itself.

You owe it to yourself to sort out your technique early on before the really specific training starts.

Mark: Okay, so would you say then that technique is even more important than the shoes that you wear?

Dave: No, I wouldn’t make black and white comparisons like that. I think they’re both very important, but I think all of these things, I’m going to use a long word…

I think they all work synergistically when you get them all right.

Mark: Excellent. Okay, so we’ve been through one, what’s number two?

Marathon Training Without Purpose

Dave: Number two is Working Out Without Purpose.

If you go out of the door and your only incentive is to run faster than you did say the day before, it’s going to create problems long term because it’s absolutely imperative with marathon training to be ‘in the zone’ so to speak.

What I mean by that is not just the psychological well-being you get from being focused…

I mean that you need to be in the right training zone. I’ve actually identified different ‘colour zones’.

You’ve got blue for pure endurance, you’ve got green for stamina, you’ve got yellow for speed.

What people tend to do if they don’t go out without purpose is they tend to blur those.

What you end up with then is the dreaded grey zone.

You were so intent at running faster every time that you don’t get the recovery after your harder session…

And so you find the next harder session harder…

And then you gradually find your average pace goes down to this very even level…

Which isn’t what you want in a varied marathon schedule.

Mark: Okay. Before we go on to number three, another quick tip that people can use based on what you just said

Dave: What they can do is they can think very, very seriously about the one thing they want out of that session and then adopt that.

If you are going for a faster paced run, then not only look at your watch for the paces but monitor how you’re feeling.

The combination of that will ensure that you’re in the right zone of intensity for that session.

Mark: Excellent. We’ve had two so far, number three?

Marathon Overtraining

Dave: Number three is Working Out Without Winding Down.

I’ve got a different take on obsessive compulsive disorder!

It’s my belief that runners, particularly marathon runners, can get too obsessed about these workouts.

Looking at that side of it, around the recovery, I’ve coined this term Obsessive Commitment to Distance.

Which is tantamount to just worrying about what they can see on the plan in terms of what they’ve run…

And less about making sure they’ve recovered, so that the quality of that run is good enough for them to get fitter and fitter.

Mark: Okay. Number four.

Prescriptive Marathon Training Plans

Dave: Number four is Workouts Not Working Out.

What I mean by this is if you are blindly following a prescriptive schedule that cannot vary no matter how you feel, good or bad, then the workouts inevitably aren’t going to work out!

Because I can guarantee that any plan that you have can and should change.

You should be incredibly receptive to how those changes are taking shape and then respond to them.

Mark: Excellent. Okay, that’s enough on that one. Number five.

Poor Marathon Day Preparation

Dave: Number five is Workouts Wasted When It Matters Most.

What I mean by this is the training is obviously geared up to running a faster marathon, and yet people will sabotage this in the last week.

They will not preserve of all that hard earned fitness, again through this kind of obsessive thing I alluded to earlier.

Instead of wrapping themselves up in the proverbial cotton wool they will try and sneak in extra sessions.

Really it’s a self esteem issue, they do not trust their training or their plan well enough.

The other thing is the actual race itself, they can get the tactics badly wrong, mainly by starting too fast.

There’s loads of other reasons that we’ll cover in other episodes but please don’t start too fast.

Grab your own PDF copy of the best race tactics and my video walkthrough for FREE. It’s my gift to you because I don’t want you to waste all that hard training when it matters most.

Mark: Excellent. I want to take you back to point number four, where you said workouts, in essence, need to be varied.

How can a runner vary their workouts?

Dave: By recognising there’s lots of variables.

You’ve basically got pace, duration, gradient, terrain, even how you feel.

If you’re feeling really good and you’ve got faster intervals, or what I call Faster Repeats scheduled, then you can do those.

But if you’re not quite up to speed, excuse the pun, for that particular session you can do something we call fartlek, which is a much more relaxed workout…

Yeah, I always get a laugh from that!

Mark: I’ve never heard that one before 🙂

Dave: It’s a Swedish term that means speed play.

You can go off-road into park land and you vary the speed and the duration and even the gradient more according to your whim, which provides a less intense way of achieving a session with some faster running.

Have you’ve committed or managed to avoid any of these biggest marathon training mistakes? Please leave a comment below. 

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