Mistakes to Avoid Before Running a Marathon

by Mar 4, 2021

You’re about to run a marathon!  Is this something you’ve done in the past, or is it your first one ever?  Regardless of your experience level, you may want to take a look at a list of common marathon mistakes and try not to make them.

And here they are!

Common Marathon Training Mistakes:

Wearing the Wrong Shoes

Have you ever seen a foot blistered beyond recognition?  I have, and it’s because I used to have one.  Well, two of them, actually.

I hate shopping, and I especially hate shoe shopping.  And I really especially hate expensive shoe shopping.  But when my shredded soles started attacking my performance, I acknowledged that running shoes aren’t something to skimp on.  Don’t give yourself blisters and sores before the big day!

Injury prevention isn’t the only reason to invest in good shoes.  The best fitting shoe will make your feet feel lighter as you run, aiding your speed and endurance.  You don’t want snug shoes that dig into your heel when you’re trying to get in the zone!  That burning discomfort can kill your performance on the track.

So, do you know what kind of heel you have?  High arch?  Completely flat?  Know the shape of your foot, and find a shoe tailored to it.  Run comfortably!


I know, marathons are intense and you want to be in the best shape possible.  But if you never give yourself a break, your body might lash out at you.

Your muscles need time to recover after a prolonged intense workout.  An exhausted muscle won’t perform as well as a rested one, and further exhausting it can lead to injury.  In some cases the injuries can be debilitating, putting your training on the back burner while you tend to your pain.  And you really don’t want a sprain, strain, tear, break, or whatever the day before the race.

Only Training with Cardio

I feel like I’ve addressed this in almost every blog I’ve ever written.  Cardio is great and you’ll need a lot of it, but add strength training for the ultimate benefit.

When you build muscle tone, your movement becomes more efficient.  This will allow you to push yourself further in your cardio exercises.  Strength training that targets your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves will be especially helpful.  The two categories compliment each other very well!  Get some tone on those leg muscles!

Training with Improper Form

Just like overtraining, improper form can lead to injury.  If you’re doing those strength training exercises I just recommended, make sure you’re doing them correctly.  Let your joints have slow and controlled movements, and always be mindful of your posture.  Ever try to go for a run with a tweaked hip?

Also, if you use improper form, your target muscles aren’t getting the results you want.  This won’t do much if you’re trying to improve your cardio performance.

Not Knowing Your Marathon’s Terrain

Will you be running on asphalt or dirt?  Will the course be hilly, flat, or a mixture of both?  It’s always a good idea to mix up your training routine, but not just with different types of exercise.  Switch up the environment too!  Know the race’s terrain beforehand, and do the majority of your training on a similar surface.

Ignoring Weather Predictions

Shouldn’t have to elaborate on this one.  Just take a quick look at the forecast before you head out.  Don’t wear a parka if it’s 100 degrees.

Eating Too Much or Too Little Pre-event

You’re going to need lots of energy for this race, so make sure you eat!  But don’t overdo it.  If you load up on too many calories pre-event, this race could be miserable.  The cramps, the sluggishness, the regret.  You might make yourself sick.

Don’t do the opposite either.  If you under-eat, you may have little to no fat to burn.  You don’t just feel crummy functioning on a few calories.  When there’s no fat to burn, physical activity starts burning muscle.  You don’t want deteriorated muscles, and especially not before a marathon.

And make sure you’re eating the right kinds of food in the days before the race.  Eat light and digestible foods like sandwiches, energy bars, and cereal.  Drink lots of water to keep your electrolytes in balance, too.

Stretching Before Warming Up

I feel like a broken record when I talk about this one.  One of the most common questions I get from clients is, “how often should I stretch?”  Well, the question shouldn’t be about how often to stretch.  It should be about when to stretch.

Your muscles are more pliable when they are warmed.  If you stretch a sore muscle before it’s been warmed (either by massage, a warm compress, or exercise), you risk injuring yourself further.  A sore muscle is like a rope with a knot in it.  If you pull that rope, the knot only gets tighter.

Don’t turn a tight muscle into a torn muscle!  Save your stretches for after the workout.

Exhausting Yourself Before the Event

Ok, so there’s just a few hours before the marathon!  You’re so pumped and can’t contain your energy!  So let’s do some insanity training right now!  But actually, don’t.  I know you’re excited, but make sure you’re well rested before you head out.

On that note, you don’t want to push yourself too hard at the start of the race either.  You might wear yourself out halfway through the marathon if you don’t just ease into it.  You’ll conserve your energy by not going so crazy.

Now you know marathon training mistakes to avoid!

Know your abilities, have a balanced routine, and know what your feet look like!  Happy marathon to you!

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

Author, Licensed Massage Therapist

Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.


Brown, Rashelle. “Does Running Shoe Type Really Matter?” ACTIVE.com, 22 June 2016, www.active.com/running/articles/does-running-shoe-type-really-matter.

Kasparek, Lizzie. “Marathon Week Nutrition Affects Performance.” Sanford Health News, 21 Aug. 2020, news.sanfordhealth.org/sports-medicine/marathon-week-nutrition/.

Rogers, Paul. “Pairing Cardio and Weight Training for Maximum Fat Loss.” Verywell Fit, 30 Apr. 2020, www.verywellfit.com/cardio-and-weight-training-and-fat-loss-3498325.

Photo Credit

Canva by Pavel1964 from Getty Images Pro

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