Speeding up, training too hard, cramming in, dehydration, improper running gear, uneven breathing and lack of nutrient-rich food are some mistakes that marathon runners make.
Although these are some aspects which are usually given undue attention to, over-training and pushing oneself too hard to gain maximum results in the lowest possible time is a very common mistake.
As marathon 2019 gets closer by the week, here are some mistakes that can be easily avoided by marathoners for a comfortable and successful run:
1. Extra mileage- too much, too soon
Running is a high-impact activity. If you try to cover more distance before your body is physically capable, you will suffer from aches and pains.
Giving your body time to become stronger can simplify the process and you can easily evade any injuries. A general rule of thumb is to ramp up your running by no more than 10 percent per week.
2. Unusual fixation on pace
In their determination to achieve a certain goal as quickly as possible, runners very often forget to listen to their body.
GPS in not only on the phone but also in wrist watches with the basic aim to motivate runners to regulate their pace in real time. But your pace based on your speed at a given time and place can’t be your go-to guide. A speed which feels extremely comfortable and easy on a cool, cloudy day with flat ground may become challenging on a hot day with sloppy/ uneven terrain.
Weather, ground and illness are too many variables that a runner must take into consideration before pushing themselves to try harder than their average.
3. Skipping recovery days
Whether you are working or studying or training, recovery days are essential for a successful outcome.
Follow up with an easy effort run or cross-training session after a hard work-out to give the body time to recover. This will give the runner time to heal, adapt and get better.
Every once in a while, leave your watch at home and run at a comfortable pace. At regular intervals check in with your breathing and overexertion. Slow down when either seems to be going a little haywire.
Another alternative is to walk and run at regular intervals- run for a few minutes and walk for a minute.
4. 18 weeks of training in 6 weeks
Cram 18 meals in one sitting and bad things will happen. Cram 18 weeks of training into six weeks and bad things will happen.
Our body takes time to get used to the demands of a race. Runners who try to cram up their training do not attempt to run again because of the terrible after-effects of their first run.
Time will enable you to improve your distance, speed and stamina. If you’re one of the newbies who is just learning to run, take several months of practice before you start to race. Eventually, you will hit a tipping point where you will only improve.
You need at least six to eight weeks to prepare for a 5K or 10K, 12 to 14 weeks for a half marathon, 16 to 22 weeks for a marathon, and 20 to 24 weeks for an ultra-marathon.
5. Starting where you stopped
Similar to training hard on recovery days is pretending that you haven’t taken a holiday from training and jumping back to where you stopped. Especially if you have stopped because you are ill or due to an injury. Your training plan needs to be flexible- to accommodate sick or injured days. It is always better to go into a race healthy and with a lower mileage base—your body and mind will be better prepared for the demands of the race.
(By Dr Santosh Kumar Dora. The author is a Senior Cardiologist at Asian Heart Institute. He is an avid marathon runner and participates in the Mumbai marathon every year)