Training for a Marathon: 8 what NOT to do's

The blog will help you to not make the same mistakes that even those who should know better can often do. Hopefully, this will ensure that you have a smooth run up to your chosen event!

1. Wearing the wrong trainers or lacking the right supports in your shoes, even if you know there is something wrong

Increased Injury Risk:

Ill-fitting or inappropriate shoes can lead to various injuries, including blisters, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and stress fractures. The wrong shoes may not provide adequate support, cushioning, or stability, leading to improper biomechanics and increased stress on your feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

Decreased comfort:

Uncomfortable shoes can cause discomfort and pain during training runs, making it challenging to maintain proper form and motivation. Discomfort from poorly fitting shoes can lead to distractions, decreased enjoyment, and mental fatigue, negatively impacting your training consistency and overall performance.

running trainers


Shoes that don’t match your foot type, gait mechanics, or running style may hinder your performance by impeding your natural movement patterns, reducing efficiency, and causing fatigue more quickly. Suboptimal footwear can also affect your ability to maintain pace, leading to slower times and decreased race performance.


As you increase your mileage during marathon training, your feet endure repetitive stress and impact forces. Wearing shoes with inadequate support or worn-out cushioning can exacerbate fatigue, increase the risk of overuse injuries, and delay recovery between workouts.


Running shoes play a crucial role in aligning your feet, ankles, and legs during each stride. The wrong shoes may disrupt biomechanical alignment, leading to overpronation, supination, or other gait abnormalities. Over time, this can contribute to chronic injuries and musculoskeletal imbalances that hinder your training progress.

2. Not having recovery days to allow your body to heal and adapt from all the training

Rest and recovery are just as important as training itself. Pushing yourself too hard without allowing proper recovery time can lead to overtraining, injuries, and burnout. Make sure to incorporate rest days into your training schedule and prioritise sleep and nutrition to support your body’s recovery process..

3. continuing running through injury and not listening to your body

worsening injury:

Continuing to run with an injury can exacerbate the underlying problem, potentially turning a minor issue into a more significant and chronic condition. Ignoring pain and discomfort may lead to further tissue damage, prolonged recovery time, and even more severe injuries that could sideline you from running altogether.


Running with an injury often leads to compensatory movements to alleviate pain or discomfort. These compensations can alter your natural biomechanics, placing excessive stress on other muscles, joints, or areas of the body. Over time, compensatory movements can lead to additional injuries or imbalances, further disrupting your training and performance.


Rest and proper treatment are essential for allowing the body to heal from injury effectively. By continuing to run through pain, you hinder the body’s natural healing processes, delaying recovery and prolonging your time away from training at full capacity. It’s crucial to prioritise healing and rehabilitation to address the root cause of the injury and prevent it from recurring.

risk of long-term damage:

Running through injuries increases the risk of long-term damage to your musculoskeletal system, potentially impacting your ability to run pain-free in the future. Chronic injuries resulting from overuse or improper management can have lasting effects on your running performance, overall health, and quality of life.

psychological impact:

Dealing with an injury can be mentally challenging, affecting your motivation, confidence, and emotional well-being. Continuing to run through pain may lead to frustration, anxiety, and burnout, diminishing your enjoyment of running and undermining your long-term goals.

4. Skipping Cross-Training and Strength Work

While running is the primary focus of marathon training, neglecting other forms of exercise can increase your risk of injury and limit your overall fitness. Incorporate cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, or yoga to improve muscular balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, don’t overlook strength training exercises to build muscle strength and endurance, which can help prevent injuries and improve running performance

5. Not testing your race nutrition in training


Different foods affect individuals differently, especially during intense physical activity like running a marathon. What works for one person might not work for another. Testing your nutrition during training allows you to identify which foods or fueling strategies sit well with your stomach and which ones may cause digestive discomfort or issues such as cramping or bloating.

energy levels:

Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining energy levels during long-distance running. Testing different types of fueling options, such as; energy gels, sports drinks, chews, or real food, during training helps you determine what provides the optimal balance of carbohydrates, electrolytes, and calories to sustain your energy levels throughout the race without causing spikes or crashes.

green and pink plastic container

hydration needs:

Proper hydration is essential for performance and overall well-being during a marathon. Testing your hydration strategy during training allows you to gauge your fluid needs based on factors like weather conditions, sweat rate, and individual sweat sodium concentration. It helps you establish a hydration plan that ensures you stay adequately hydrated without risking dehydration or overhydration during the race.

nutrient timing:

Timing your nutrition intake during the race can significantly impact your performance and comfort level. Testing different timing strategies, such as; consuming fuel at regular intervals or based on specific mileage markers, during training allows you to fine-tune your nutrition plan to meet your body’s needs and preferences, ensuring you maintain a consistent energy supply throughout the race.

mental preparation:

Knowing that your nutrition plan has been tested and proven effective during training can provide a mental boost on race day. Confidence in your fueling strategy can alleviate pre-race anxiety and help you stay focused and motivated throughout the marathon without worrying about potential nutrition-related issues.

6. Not adapting your marathon training program to your lifestyle

 If your training program feels overwhelming or lacks enjoyment, setting unrealistic training goals can have several negative consequences;

increased stress:

Failing to align your training schedule with your lifestyle can lead to increased stress and feelings of overwhelm. Trying to fit in demanding workouts without considering other commitments such as work, family, or social obligations can lead to burnout and decreased enjoyment of the training process.


 Setting unrealistic training goals that don’t account for your available time, energy levels, or other priorities can lead to inconsistency in your training. Skipping workouts or constantly feeling behind schedule can hinder your progress and diminish your confidence in achieving your marathon goals.

risk of injury:

 Pushing yourself too hard to meet unrealistic training goals or squeezing in workouts at inconvenient times can increase your risk of injury. Overtraining, inadequate recovery, and neglecting proper rest can lead to fatigue, burnout, and susceptibility to overuse injuries.

Diminished Performance:

Setting unrealistic training goals may lead to frustration and disappointment if you’re unable to meet them. This negative mindset can impact your confidence, motivation, and overall performance during training and on race day. It’s essential to set achievable goals that challenge you without setting you up for failure.

lack of enjoyment:

Marathon training should be a rewarding and fulfilling experience that enhances your physical and mental well-being. tainable, or disconnected from your lifestyle and personal priorities, you may find it difficult to stay motivated and enjoy the process.

woman walking down the hill at daytime

7. Missing big chunks of training and then proceeding by skipping ahead with the program

If other commitments, or perhaps injuries mean your training schedule is impacted or delayed, don’t just skip ahead to where you would have been if things hadn’t been effected. By missing the progressive steps in your training plan, this acute loading of the body can cause more injuries and can affect your confidence to run, as well as potentially leading to further interruptions and delays in your training program further down the line and closer to race day.

8. Racing in brand new trainers:

This can change your bodies biomechanics, putting load on different areas that your body isn’t used to, potentially leading to injuries and the possibility of being unable to finish the race. 

How to avoid these pitfalls:

To avoid these pitfalls, it’s crucial to adapt your marathon training program to fit your lifestyle and set realistic training goals that consider your available time, energy levels, and individual circumstances. Here are some strategies to help you do so:

Evaluate your schedule:

Assess your weekly schedule and identify available time slots for training. Consider your work, family, and social commitments to determine realistic training windows.

prioritise recoverY:

Ensure your training plan includes adequate rest days, recovery activities, and time for sleep and relaxation. Recovery is just as important as training for preventing injuries and optimising performance.

Be Flexible:

Recognise that life can be unpredictable, and it’s okay to adjust your training schedule as needed. Be flexible and willing to modify workouts or rest days based on your energy levels, recovery needs, or unexpected events.

set S.M.A.R.T Goals:

Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals that align with your current fitness level, lifestyle, and marathon aspirations. Break down your goals into smaller milestones to track your progress and stay motivated.

listen to your body:

Pay attention to how your body responds to training and make adjustments accordingly. If you’re feeling excessively fatigued, sore, or rundown, prioritise rest and recovery to prevent overtraining and injury.

Practice nutrition on your long runs in training:

Find what works for you and allows you to perform at your optimum level.

Seek help early on so you can adapt your training around injuries:

Better to be safe than sorry, listen and be in tune with your body, if you feel something isn’t right, don’t just ignore niggles in the hope they’ll go away, seek help and guidance.

get the right running trainers sooner:

Make sure if you need new running trainers, you purchase them at the start of your training plan. This will give your body time to adjust and get used to the load placement whilst your running intensity and distances are at a lower level.

By adapting your marathon training program to fit your lifestyle and setting realistic training goals, you can enhance your training experience, improve consistency, and increase your chances of success on race day. Remember to enjoy the journey and celebrate your progress along the way.

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