10 Mistakes I made in my First Marathon (and yet survived it)

It seems like I made every mistake you can make in my first marathon. Here’s a list of 10 stupid things I did.

I ran the The Cape Town Marathon this weekend. It was held in sunny, windless conditions and I suffered. I suffered a lot and for a long time. I finished ok though, and given that I’ve only been running for 9 months I guess I can’t complain.

But boy did I ever make a lot of mistakes…

In no particular order, here they are.

I Started to Fast
I know, I know. Rookie Mistake. Believe me I was telling myself not to go too fast, but its so hard to judge as a beginner, and since I don’t run with my glasses I actually can’t see my split times.

I Caught the wrong bus.
This is related to the first mistake of starting too fast. After a few k’s I saw in the distance a sub-5hr bus flag. I actually hauled ass for a fair bit of distance to catch it and then settled in for the ride. Little did I know it was one of three sub-5hr buses and I should have been on one that was going a bit slower. By the time I realized my mistake the damage was done. (Hell I would have done better on a 5:30 bus given the damage this one did to me.)

I caught the flu a week before the Marathon.
Now this is not one of those things you can do much about. 2 days before the Marathon when my sinuses were acheing and I was sneezing, coughing and beset with headaches I realised that the sensible thing to do would be to pull out of the race. I didn’t because

It was my first marathon
I’d paid all that money
I’d put in all the time and effort in training.

Maybe in the future when I have more marathons under my belt I’ll be sensible enough to just let the race slide if I’m sick. But nothing was going to stop me running this one.

Hydration /Fueling strategy. The absence of.
I had nothing my way of a plan. It was largely a matter of going by feel and trying to make sure I got enough fuel and water. There was absolutely no logic to it. I’m not sure what impact it had, as everything feel so sore anyway, my energy levels weren’t the problem.

Next time out I’ll have a proper plan in place and have practiced it in training.

I trained in cool weather.
I hate,hate hate the feeling of the sun bearing down on me when running. For that reason I train exclusively in the cool early morning or in the evenings.
But I’ll defend that strategy by saying that there are many k’s I would never have run had it been too hot, so at least it kept me training.
However once the sun began bearing down, only an hour into the race, I knew I wasn’t going to have a great day, and I regretted not training in warmer conditions (to be fair, too, it has been winter leading up to this race)

I wore dark clothing.
I’d been training in black, just because they were my most comfortable training clothes, and it didn’t much matter because of the time of day I was training. But I seriously regretted the choice once the sun got high in the sky.

I did not do enough long runs.
By long runs I mean 20km+. My weekly mileage was actually pretty good, sometime getting up to 80+kms per week, but I simply didn’t run far enough often enough.

I didn’t pay attention to my upper body.
This was actually one of my biggest problems. My neck and shoulders began acheing at about 19km and it just got worse from there. At one point I had an searing pain in my neck that almost made me stop altogether. The plan fact is that all I’ve done, exclusively, is run. I’ve paid no attention to other fitness training, no upper-body workouts at all. And I paid the price.

I didn’t spend enough time on my feet.
As I mentioned, my weekly mileage has been ok. But it also matter how that mileage breaks down. In addition to not enough long-runs distance wise. I also simply didn’t spend enough time on my feet. I needed a lot more 2+ hr runs. Consequently my feet were in real pain towards the end.

Didn’t think about it. Never even occured to me. But yeah I should have used sunscreen.

Given all of that, all the aches and pains, all the, well, misery. It was still worth it and I’m determined to run another one, and not make the same mistakes again.

Next time it will be all brand new mistakes


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