Happy Friday! I haven’t been running almost at all lately, as I’m focused on reaching my 20 class goal for the month of October. (Okay, actually I just reached it this morning, but now I’m focused on surpassing it!) However, I know that a lot of you are in the peak of fall marathon season right now, so I thought I’d pass along a list of five mistakes first time marathoners make, from Olympic silver medalist, 2009 New York City Marathon champion, and 2014 Boston Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi!
After participating in Deena Kastor’s running retreat in July, our flight home was canceled and we were stuck in Mammoth for an extra day. That turned out to the best thing that ever happened on a vacation. Not only did we get to spend a morning stand up paddleboarding with Deena and her husband Andrew, but the person sitting behind us on our new flight out was none other than Meb himself – just a few weeks before he’d head to the Rio Olympics! Adam and I had noticed him in the teeny tiny airport while waiting to board, but hadn’t wanted to interrupt him. However, he ended up talking to us for almost the whole flight, and we got brave enough to get a quick selfie before saying our goodbyes :)
I read Meb’s excellent running book, Meb for Mortals, in September, and was really inspired by the great and practical advice he gave. I really appreciated that Meb told readers exactly what he did, but also was realistic about the fact that not everyone is a pro athlete and has access to the same high-tech resources or has hours a day to devote to training! In line with that advice, I really liked his practical tips for first-time marathoners to ensure that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste and you have a great race. So without further ado, here are Meb’s top five mistakes first time marathoners make, and how to avoid them:
1. Refusing to taper before the race: A race of 18-20 miles takes about four weeks to recover from. Many marathoners try to squeeze in one last long run as the race approaches, and this leaves them unable to properly recover in time for the race and thus unable to perform at their best.
2. Forgetting to refuel during the race: It’s easy to get distracted on race day and forget to refuel, but by the time you feel the impact it’s too late. Consume a PowerGel around the sixth mile to keep your energy up and replenish electrolytes for hydration and fuel for the rest of the race.
3. Starting too strong: Many racers think it’s smart to surge faster than their usual pace at the beginning to make up for their slower speed toward the finish. This ends up being a downfall because it causes runners to burn through too much energy early on.
4. Trying something new the day of the race: There are so many great energy supplements runners can use to fuel up before, during, and after a race, but it’s important to make sure your body is used to running with these supplements. If you plan on using gels and energy drinks, make sure that you use them while you train so that they become a part of your routine.
5. Indulging after the race: It’s tempting to celebrate your finish by going out for a big meal with your family and friends and indulging in comfort foods. This will likely delay your post-race recovery. Immediately after the race, it’s best to refuel with a high quality protein such as the new Power Bar Clean Whey Bar. These bars have 20g of protein and only 2g of sugar. My favorite is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor.
Good luck in whatever marathon you may be running this year, and let me know how it goes!