14 of the funniest rookie runner mistakes from our RW readers

Funny rookie running mistakes

Ever run the wrong way at a race, or turned up to the start line a day early? We’ve all been there. In fact, we asked our Runner’s World readers to share some of their funniest rookie runner mistakes, and here’s what they said:

Paul: At my first Great North Run, a marshal was holding a substance out in their hand for runners. Stupidly, being fairly new to running, I presumed it was one of those energy gels I’d heard so much about but never tried, so I scooped some up and put it in my mouth. Turns out it was Vaseline. At every water station after that I looked like a salivating dog as the water dribbled out of my mouth!  

Sarah: I registered with a very, very, overly ambitious finish time for a 10K and come race day I found myself lined up at the start line next to Mo Farah! There he was in all his glory and there I was in my old tracksuit, with a bottle of pop in one hand and my asthma pump in the other!

Amy: Never follow someone too closely at a gel station, they might squeeze the packet too forcefully, miss their mouth and hit you in the face.

Related: 21 big running questions put to the pros

John: I once ran the Edinburgh Marathon with the timing chip around my wrist instead on my ankle. It was a long time ago and I didn’t realise my time wouldn’t be recorded. Luckily, they did credit me with a time when they checked the cameras around the course!

Paul: I had it in my head that a half marathon was 11.1 miles, I got to 10 miles and put on a bit of a sprint to smash my goal time. I was out of puff by the time I reached the ‘2 more miles to go’ sign.

Debbie: My husband once ran an extra lap during a 10K race. He couldn’t figure out how his time was so slow for ages.

Vicky: At three different races, the first I forgot my trainers and knickers and had to buy new ones the day before race day. The second, I got up in the dark and put on odd trainers, ran the race in them and didn’t realise till I’d finished. The last I forgot my sports bra and had to improvise with a running buff as a substitute.

Anne: I was so afraid of hitting the ‘wall’ I had loads of bananas at every stop in the marathon. I’ve never been able to eat one since.

Related: 7 tips for fuelling your first marathon

Rosanna: Going for a last minute wee – I came out to find the race had started and everyone had gone.

Barry: I travelled to a race an entire week early.

Judy: I tried a different energy gel for a half marathon, which didn’t agree with me. I just about sprinted the last 5 miles, crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and just carried on running until I found the portaloos. Lesson learnt – never try new gels on race day.

Rachel: I took a mountain bike to a triathlon.

John: At last year’s Brighton Marathon I somehow found myself running along the pavement where the spectators were, the wrong side of the barriers. Don’t ask me how it happened, but I can admit some runners followed me, clearly thinking I knew where I was going!

Jessica: Finally noticing some strange looks I was getting were because I was blasting my playlist louder and louder, in my attempts to make my Bluetooth headphones ‘work’ in the starting pen.