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Marathon lessons you don’t need to learn twice

The most common marathon mistakes and how to avoid them

There are some lessons you need to learn a couple of times before they stick–and there are others you only need to learn once. Making a mistake in a marathon can lead to physical pain so unfortunate, that those mistakes become lessons you never need to learn again.

Start of the 2019 SeaWheeze Half-Marathon. Photo: lululemon

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Canadian Running reached out to our readers to ask what their biggest mistakes were in their first marathon. While sometimes the most valuable lessons are learned on your own, if you’re looking to avoid at least one of several possible pitfalls during your first marathon, here’s a list to help you. If you’ve already run several marathons, here are some mistakes that might take you down memory lane.

Don’t eat the clam chowder

In fact, don’t eat anything out of the ordinary the night before. Eat exactly what you practiced fueling with and stick to your predetermined nutrition plan. You’re looking to eat foods your body knows well and to eat enough so that you aren’t feeling hungry come race time.

You need to fuel during the race

Gels aren’t just for professional runners. For a marathon, you need to fuel regardless of your experience level. Make sure you practice ahead of time with the gel or bottle that you plan on using during the race.

Another thing to note, bring your own gels. In some races they’re promised on the course, but bring one or two just to be safe.

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30K is very far from the finish line

Many experienced marathoners say that 30K is where the real race begins and everything before that is just biding time. Consider that when you’re getting a little confident at 25K.

Don’t be a hero in the first 10K

This is an extension of the point above, but don’t go out too hard. The marathon, especially the first time, will feel longer than you expect it to. Try your best to feel comfortable for at least the first quarter of the race.

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Know the profile of the course you’re running

Not all marathon courses are created equally. Have an idea of how tough of a course you’ll be running is and adjust your pacing predictions accordingly. Also, if the race you’ve chosen happens to be exceptionally hilly, remember to practice running downhill. It’s harder than it seems.