Every runner has their running habits. Some are good, some are bad. Some are neither, and are just odd little quirks that add a comforting bit of predictability to a run. For example, I have to put my GU in the right pocket of my hydration vest and kleenex in the left. If it’s the other way around, I feel like my world has turned inside out.
Most of these habits, even the bad ones, are fairly harmless for day-to-day running.
However, marathon training is a different sort of endeavor. You are on the road (or the trail) for hours and pounding mile after mile for months at a time. The negative impacts of any bad habits you may have increase exponentially.
Bad Running Habits to Break
To have the most successful, healthy and sane marathon training experience possible, there are some bad running habits you need to break before you start training seriously for a marathon.
Only Running In Fair Weather
I’ve written about this before. You never know what race day will bring. It could be unseasonably hot, or ridiculously freezing.
On various race days, I have encountered: an earthquake, a race cancellation due to extreme cold, rain, wind, hail, and high heat/humidity advisories.
While bailing on a run because it’s kinda drizzly out could possibly (maybe!) be excused if you are running only for fitness, if you are going to be prepared for whatever race day may bring, you need to train with whatever weather may come your way.
Choosing Shoes And Clothes Only Because They Are Cute
I totally get wanting to wear cute clothes while working out or wanting the cutest shoe (or at least not the ugliest one). But for marathon training, function has to come first.
That adorable little running jacket? It may be adorable, but if it isn’t very good at wicking sweat, cute doesn’t much matter. Having to deal with impractical clothing or shoes during a long run or on race day is miserable. Training runs are the perfect chance to try a bunch of stuff out and get rid of what doesn’t work.
The good news is that there are now more options for shoes and apparel than ever before. It is totally possible to have both cute and functional! But function always needs to come first.
Not Carrying Your Own Fuel Or Water (Or Not Fueling At All)
I know some runners are annoyed by having to carry water. They may not like GU and other fuel ‘weighing them down.’ But I have also seen runners at aid stations drop due to dehydration. You can’t make it through marathon training long runs without refueling and hydrating mid-run.
Some training routes have water fountains, but you can’t always rely on them working. Here in California, we are in the midst of a drought so many public water fountains have been turned off to conserve water.
Most races have aid stations, but even that is no guarantee. I’ve done races where they have run out of water. I once did a 10-mile race that didn’t have any aid stations at all (it was a remote trail run).
There are so many hydration system options available: handheld, waist pack, backpack, 1 big bottle, multiple little bottles. SPIbelts and flip belts carry more than enough fuel for a long run or race. Try a few options out and see what you prefer, but for heaven’s sake carry water and whatever type of fuel you like; be it GU, blocks, dates, figs, potatoes…
Always Going 100%
Always training at 100% is a recipe for injury every single time.
Every training program worth its salt has a variety training runs at different paces and energy levels. Some days you run shorter distance all out. Other days (long runs for example) you should do a pace that is much, much slower than all out.
Different runs at different paces all serve different purposes. Different muscles benefit from different types of effort.
There is zero upside to doing a long run at 100% effort.
No Rest Days
Taking regular rest days (or at least non-running cross training days) is directly related to not always going 100%. Most marathon training programs, especially those designed to first-timers have rest and/or cross training days built-in.
Your body needs to recover from all of the running and pounding. Relax, take a day off from running and go for a bike ride. Go for a swim. Let your muscles (at least your running muscles) and your body chill.
Recover. Mentally recharge a little.
Not wearing sunscreen
Long runs take a really long time (funny how what works).
It is a really long time to be exposed to the sun. Sunburns are annoying, painful, and unhealthy. They are also easily prevented or at least minimized.
I am a serious sweater, so I fully understand the annoying battle for reapplication, but preventing sunburn and skin cancer is worth it.
Any other habits that you think should be broken before starting to train for a marathon?