Breaking the Golden Rule of Running

by Elena on November 12, 2012 in Fitness

Every runner, at some point in their running career, uses running tips and advice, to improve or change their running.

But what about running mistakes? Mistakes that you know are mistakes because you have read tips about them?  Mistakes that you have actually warned people against?

Running mistakes not to make | ciao Mom

There is one golden rule in running: Never ever change your routine or try something new on race day.


It is a golden rule for a reason. Especially in endurance distances like a half marathon or marathon, you just never know how your body, mind, or feet will react to a new variable

I have always been pretty good about following this rule.

Until the Runners World Half Marathon.

I literally, changed everything on race day. I changed my shoes. I changed my clothes. I changed the socks I wear. I tried gels that I had not yet previously tasted.

Anyone of those things on their own would have been risky to change on race day, but all of  them put together? I probably did not even deserve to finish the race with the level of gamble that I took.

The big question is: Did any of these changes to my running routine impact my performance on race day?


It is hard to say.  I am almost certain that the new clothes did not change my performance.  And other than not loving the taste of the new gels, my body is used to gels as I run so I don’t think the new flavor made any difference.

The real issue that day was my feet. My feet were extra numb that day on the course. In my prior training runs I had been able to cope with the foot numbness, but on this race day, I almost gave up because of it. Truth be told, I dont think the increased numbness had anything to do with my shoes. I would venture a guess that my numbness is more about some elevated blood pressure and weight gain and really has nothing to do with my shoes.  In fact, my Altra Zero Drop Provisioness shoes that I had been wearing for two days  prior to the race, and decided to run the half marathon in, have actually almost entirely replaced my one adored Mizuno Wave Creations as my favorite running shoe.

Could the fact that I was wearing Zensah Athletic Performance Compression Socks 
for the first time EVER during a run have played  a part? Maybe. But so many other people swear by wearing compression socks while they run that I am guessing the fabulous pink knee high socks were not at fault.  Also…can I just say…those compression socks? They are my new favorite travel must have to help reduce swelling during a long flight.

Whether or not the changes in my race day routine had a real impact on race day I will never know.

What I do know about changing my running routines on race day

As it is, the very act of running a race like a marathon or half marathon is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. The mental games that are associated with changing your routine are enough to interfere significantly with your performance even on just a sub conscious level.

Also? If you are anything like me, you second guess and analyze your race down to the most minuscule of details. So adding in more variables that you can use to second guess your performance? Not necessary.

Those are two risks that have huge potential to undo a race before even crossing the start line.

So huge that I can confidently say I will never try it again. Race day is about achieving a goal. It is not a day for science experiments where you are the thing under observation.

What about you? What mistakes have you learned from as a runner or athlete? 

Ciao Mom



I participated in the Runners World Half Marathon as a FitFluential Ambassador. Race expenses were provided by Runners World. No other compensation was received.  I received a pair of Altra Zero Drop shoes during the event.  All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included.

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Amanda @RunToTheFinish November 12, 2012 at 11:34 am

yeah that’s a rule I have now broken numerous times :) I think the only time it’s really effected me has been with food or new gels during the race. Otherwise i think a lot of it is about mentally feeling like this is just another day to keep the nerves in check

Elena November 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The funny thing is that when I got the shoes on Thursday night, I said, out loud even, ooh these feel great, but I will have to wait to try them for a real long run after the race because you know, I would never change anything on race day.

Jill @ Fitness, Health and Happiness November 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

I’ve broken the same nothing new on race day rule a lot lately. Now that I think about it I never have in the past. Running is such a mental thing. There was a time when I would not even consider changing something for race day. Now, obviously, I do it without as much hesitation.

Kelly @ Cupcake Kelly's November 13, 2012 at 6:38 am

I chamfer my fuel for my first half but luckily it worked out in my favor, I got lucky.

Amanda @ Run Principessa November 13, 2012 at 6:43 am

I’ve never really changed things up on race day except for the flavor of my Gu (vanilla to PB, highly recommended!). I changed things up for the 5K, but I know that’s not going to be as drastic of a difference if something is irking you because it’s shorter. I’m glad you got through it though!

Elena November 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm

ooh I want to try the PB Gu. (I almost did on that particular race day!) November 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

I have changed socks on a race day and it worked out okay. And, I changed shorts for a 5K once that didn’t work out so well. Annoying that they rode up the whole time. At least it was over with quickly.

Hope you can figure out your numb feet problem.

Ali November 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

Well I guess this just confirms your rule. Sometimes it’s good break the rules, just for a trial. You live and learn I guess…. 😉

Elena November 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Absolutely. I think the key that I realized is that you have to pick your battles-both physical and mental.

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