6 Mistakes That Could Sabotage Your Marathon

Marathon Mistake No. 5: Going Out Too Fast

At the sound of the gun, it's hard not to take off like a bullet. But any experienced marathoner will tell you that going out too fast almost always leads to a very painful finish to your race. "Everyone feels great at the beginning and thinks, 'Why shouldn't I run faster if I feel so great now?' Of course, the problem is that it just doesn't work," warns Marty Beene, a Bay area running coach and owner of Be The Runner.

Plus, the harder you go in the beginning, the more carbs you're burning, which only increases the chance that you'll hit the dreaded "wall" earlier, says Mayer. "The early miles always feel easy, but often any time 'banked' is given back later. It is always easier to make up time if you start a little slow than to recover from starting too fast."

More: Marathon Pacing: How to Run Your Best Race

Marathon Mistake No. 6: Bad Breakfasts

It doesn't take a pro to know that you probably shouldn't gorge on a greasy sausage sandwich the morning of your race. But even basic breakfast foods—eggs, cheese, muffins—can cause cramping and stomach discomfort during a marathon. To know what you can (or can't) tolerate during those 26.2 miles, test out different types of foods before your long runs.

As a rule, "it's always best to stick with lighter foods for breakfasts, mixing carbs and proteins," says Mayer. "My favorite is a banana with mixed nuts, which provides sodium and potassium, along with carbs, and some protein and healthy fat."

And as for what you drink? Best not to stray from the usual stuff: Have a cup of coffee if it's part of your morning routine, then sip (don't chug) water or a sports drink until go time.

More: The Pre-Race Meal

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