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What Our Readers Have Learned From Their Race-Day Mistakes

From gear mishaps to nutrition miscues, we’ve all had something go wrong on race day. Five runners share their biggest race-day mistake.

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Photo by Andrew McClanahan.

Lesson Learned

“It is super important to be prepared for any type of weather, especially if you are traveling for your race. Tracking the weather doesn’t guarantee anything, and I learned that on race day. I traveled to Utah for a 50-miler, and it was supposed to be sunny and beautiful, but come race day, it was windy, cold and it even rained! I was definitely not prepared for that type of weather, and it impacted my performance and my result. Now I pack for every type of weather.” —Lulu Martinez, communications manager, ultrarunner and two-time 100-miler finisher

“When I first started distance running I didn’t know what I was doing, and I ran one of my first half marathons in regular non-sweat-wicking socks. I ended up with huge blisters on my feet during the humid race and never made that mistake again. Now I’m super picky about my running socks!” —Heather Montgomery, fitness and running blogger, half-marathon and marathon runner

“My mistake has been not being hydrated enough. I run relatively short races (5K) in less than 20 minutes, so I prefer to be as light as possible on my feet and not be bogged down by a full bladder. At a recent event on a hot day, my pre-race fluids consisted only of coffee, which tends to act as a diuretic, and my body felt depleted after the second mile.” —Patricia Fall, owner of Fall Media Group, former collegiate runner, 5K runner and triathlete

“The aspect of racing that proved most detrimental during [my years as an elite distance runner] was comparison. Spending too much time or energy seeing who else will be in the race brings unnecessary worry and pulls you away from your true power. I learned to focus on my path, where I am at, trusting in me and the overall process. Sure, you have to be aware of your surroundings, but literally staying focused on your own lane and power are the big keys!” —Alyson Charles, TV host, conscious lifestyle expert, former elite distance runner 

“I ran in a costume for my first half marathon, and I had nearly every element of my costume perfected—except for the leggings. I’d heard a thousand times over to run in your full costume before the race, but I procrastinated and bought a pair of leggings from Target the night before the race because they seemed to fit. I discovered the waistband was actually way too big, and I spent the first four miles praying my leggings didn’t fall! I definitely won’t be using my next half marathon (or any race) to break in another item of clothing.” —Shelby Rogers, content marketing strategist, freelance writer, runner


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