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Regular advice on running and RunCoach
Five common mistakes marathon runners make
By ROBERTA MACINNIS
Dec. 14, 2008
As the Chevron Houston Marathon nears, area experts offer some advice
It takes effort and determination to train for a marathon. So why do so many runners ignore what they've learned?
With the Chevron Houston Marathon just a month away, we polled coaches of area training groups to discover the top five mistakes marathon runners make on race day.
1. STARTING TOO FAST: It's easy to get caught up in race-day excitement and charge over the Elysian Viaduct like the marathon is a 5K. But it's not, and you'll pay for it about 20 miles down the road.
"Take the first few miles as a warm-up and gradually work to a comfortable pace," says Gary Mulvihill, founder of the Runner's High Club.
2. TRYING SOMETHING NEW: "Do not introduce anything new on race day!" emphasizes Pete Rake, organizer of Bay Area Fit. "Not clothes, not shoes, not socks, not a different Gu, not a different breakfast. Stick to what you practiced during your training."
3. WEAVING EARLY: "Runners often feel boxed in when they are unable to find a clear open path to run through," says Akilah Willery, an assistant coach with Kingwood Fit.
Willery says its best to be patient and to wait for the crowds to clear after the first four or five miles. "It pays off in the end to conserve as much energy as possible."
4. IGNORING REALITY: No one can control the weather, but you can control your reaction to it. Don't expect to set a personal record on a 70-degree day.
"Adjust to the conditions," Mulvihill says. "Hot, humid, rain, wind: Adjust to a slower goal pace. Ideal conditions: Go for it!"
5. STRESSING OUT: The distance is intimidating, especially to first-timers, so nerves are to be expected. But working yourself into an agitated state increases your chances of making one of the mistakes above.
"Each race is a test of training and your mental toughness," Rake says. "Some days are better than others. If you are on, go for it; if you are off, do not fret. Pull back, enjoy the environment, give out some high fives and have fun!"
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