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5 Mistakes Runners Make When Training for a Race

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Training for a race can be exciting, but there are a few things that are easy to get wrong along the way. No matter what type or distance race that you're planning on running, it's safe to say that you’re at risk of making one of the following five mistakes:

Mistake #1: Overeating
"The eyes are bigger than the stomach" saying holds true here. Pay attention to your hunger at feeding cues early in your training program. Typically, in the first few weeks of training, not much of a daily dietary shift is needed since the exercise volume and intensity are still low. Aim to balance your blood sugar by eating good sources of protein, fat and fiber, in the form of non-processed or refined carbohydrates.

Mistake #2: Not testing race-day nutrition
The body responds very differently to calories as the intensity of exercise increases.  Generally speaking, the ability to digest decreases as the exercise intensity increases. This is due to blood being shunted from the digestive tract to the working muscles. Be sure to plan a few higher intensity training sessions during which you specifically eat what that you plan on eating on race day.

[Read More: 3 Nutrient Timing Myths Busted]

Mistake #3: Not recovering
There is an equation that I subscribe to: stress + recovery = adaptation. It's just as important to properly recover your body as it is to stress it with training. Schedule a massage, roll out on a foam roller before or after training, use compression boots or clothing or use electrical stimulation to rejuvenate the muscles. From a nutrition perspective, be sure to feed your body a good balance of carbohydrate and protein immediately after a training session to optimize the body's ability to recover for the next day's training.

Mistake #4: Focusing on quantity over quality
This can apply to training and nutrition. It's best to not overdo your physical training progress from week to week. Allow yourself a few extra weeks in your preparation plan so you don't have to build mileage or duration too much. It's always better to err on the side of conservative versus aggressive training load changes. Nutritionally, focus on eating high-quality foods: protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and water.

Mistake #5: Not trusting yourself
Trust the physical and nutrition training that you've implemented months leading up to the race. You've done the work and recovered properly. The last thing you want to do during race week is doubt yourself.

[Read More: Your Complete Guide to Spring Running Season]

It's important to follow a short taper prior to your race to ensure your body is well rested, but don't forget about your nutrition. Don't deviate from your daily nutrition plan that has gotten you so far and prepared you to race. The saying, "don't do anything new before a race" definitely applies here. Stay away from any major dietary changes and don't listen to your friends. You've gone through your nutrition training over the past several months and have developed the plan that works best for your individual needs and digestive system — stick with it!

Of course, we're all human and will make mistakes, but knowing what to expect and how to prepare leading up to a race will better prepare you physically and nutritionally.

- Bob

Readers - Do you have any plans to run a marathon or any other race this spring? What are your go-to training and nutrition tips? Have you made any of the mistakes mentioned above? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Bob Seebohar is a sports dietitian, exercise physiologist, strength and conditioning specialist, triathlon coach and CLIF Bar nutrition partner. He loves training for triathlons, cyclocross and seeing how far he can push his body physically, mentally and nutritionally. Read more about him at


Burke, L. & Deakin, V. Clinical Sports Nutrition, McGraw Hill.  2006.

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