Runners in the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon should avoid these five mistakes that can derail even the best-planned race. (Photo by Manny Ceneta/Getty Images)
The 38th annual Marine Corps Marathon kicks off this weekend. It's estimated that approximately 30,000 runners will hit the 26.2-mile course, as it passes the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials as well as the Pentagon.
Runners train long and hard for this race, but often times find themselves making simple mistakes on race day. These racing errors have been known to affect your finish time and sometimes bench you from running altogether. Whether you're running your first marathon or 25th, avoid these race-day errors to keep your race enjoyable and safe.
Mistake #1: Wearing something new
Avoid any situation that will put you in a situation where you're wearing unfamiliar material. Runners like showing off the t-shirts that are handed out on race day, but that can compromise your comfort and leave your mind on something other than your run. Consider wearing what you wore while training for the race. Moisture-wicking clothing, shirts and hats are popular and designed to keep you dry, but be sure you've worn them before.
Mistake #2: Eating too much or too little
What you eat will affect your race-day fuel. Just like with new clothes, before or during the race is not the time to try out different foods. Stick to the familiar quantity and preferred foods that were eaten while training for the race. Even if you are used to a certain type of food, if you haven't previously run on it, it may have an adverse affect on your overall performance.
Mistake #3: Ignoring the pains
"Playing with pain" can bench you from running altogether if you're not careful. There is a big difference between a stitch in your side and running on a twisted ankle. If you experience significant pain that you've never felt before, consider walking for a short while. If the pain subsides, you're likely to finish the race. If your pain is persistent and not alleviated by walking, consider stopping the race and preventing a more serious injury that can bench you from running altogether.
Mistake #4: Showing up late
That has been known to compound the race-day jitters. Remember, this race is expected to draw 30,000 runners, in addition to friends and family. Anticipate traffic and road closures for a smooth and early arrival time. Arriving early also gives you ample time to stretch appropriately and prepare your mental strategies.
Mistake #5: Being unfamiliar with the route
Unfamiliarity can have a negative impact on your energy conservation during the race. One of the best things you can do is to experience the route on the day before the race. Understanding where the flat sections, turns, and mile markers are located can be an asset during the race. This mental strategy can allow you to conserve your energy at times during the race and give you a slight edge over other runners.