Usually, race day results reflect the quality and quantity of training. But in the case of the marathon – that 26.2-mile bucket list feat – little things on race day can make all the difference. Whether it's too much Gatorade causing cramps, a new shirt chafing so much that it draws blood, or a pasta primavera that's still sitting with you at mile 13, little mistakes are exaggerated in such a long race – and they can ruin everything. To get it right on race day, follow this tried-and-true advice.
During the race, take it easy.
"Going out too fast is probably the biggest, most common mistake marathoners make," says Stanko. If you have a goal finish time for the race, break it out mile by mile and run negative splits – meaning the first 13 should be about 5 or even 10 seconds slower per mile. "Halfway in, you should feel great," says Stanko. "I would say at around 18 miles is when you'll start to struggle and you have to buckle down. If you're pushing the pace going into 10, you're going to have a long race."
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