Our friends and relatives all have one magical thing in common. They’re fountains of perpetual knowledge, and they know better than common sense or a quick Internet search could ever prove otherwise. If you’re a health nut (and we mean that in the nicest way possible since we are too), then you probably share some of your exercise regimens or healthy habits with the people you know. That’s okay. But it probably means they’ve told you what they think you should do instead. These are the worst pieces of marathon advice you’ve probably already heard, will probably hear again, and why they’re all terribly wrong.
Some idiot probably thinks you’re a prince or princess and that you need to look your best for that race you’re about to run–so naturally the idiot either provided an upgraded outfit or told you where you can find one that looks oh-so-good. Ignore this mysterious individual. Your fifteenth mile into a race isn’t the ideal time to realize that your crotch seam is slowly turning into the Grand Canyon during a flash flood event. Do what you normally do, whether it’s the clothes you wear or the food you eat. Change nothing.
Taking that one step further, don’t think for a second that this is a good time to upgrade your running shoes. Anyone who’s worth their salt on the track knows that a decent worn-in pair (we’re not talking duct-taped soles with no shoe laces) is better than a brand new pair. Then again, most toddlers know that. Why don’t your friends know that? Blisters hurt. Avoid them.
For some reason there are some very special people out there who like to “bank miles” during a marathon, i.e. start fast because you’ll tire later. It’s a freaking marathon, NOT a sprint. It’s one of the most used proverbs out there, and just maybe there’s a reason it exists in the first place. Most people who know what they’re doing start slow and gradually increase to their expected pace long-term. The best among us start at the same pace they finish with, but that’s no easy feat.
If you’re a beer drinker, then by all means enjoy a frosty tall boy at the end of the race–but don’t overdo it. There is research out there that suggests beer reduces the inflammation that arises from prolonged runs, but it uses non-alcoholic beer. If someone tells you that beer is going to make you feel better after the race, then that person probably just wants to laugh at you while you vomit in a grimy restroom.
One oft-mentioned tidbit of bad advice involves when you should start to eat or drink. Our bodies lose energy at a staggering rate during a marathon run, and if you wait until you’re hungry or thirsty to replenish the nutrients and electrolytes you need to finish the race, then your body won’t absorb them in time to do any good. Start refueling about a quarter of the way into the race and you should do fine.