7 Tips For A First-Timer’s Marathon

Make your first marathon a success with these training tips from the top.

Stepping up to marathon distance might seem daunting, but there’s no reason to think your first marathon can’t be enjoyable, successful, and even fun! Here are 7 things to think about as your Spring marathon gets closer.

#1 Remember Why

If you know why you’re doing this, then nothing can stop you. No training session will be too tough, no section of the race will grind you down. So think back to why you ever wanted to run a marathon, and why you decided to do this race, this year. Keep that reason in your mind at all times. Use it to spur you on and keep you motivated. If you’re raising funds for charity, that’s an extra layer of motivation to keep you going. Whatever you are feeling in the moment is temporary. The race won’t last forever. It will soon be a memory… so keep going!

#2 Mental Strategies

During training, work on mental strategies that you can carry over into the race. Think about everyone in your life who wishes you well and wants you to succeed. Take them with you in your mind, and call each one up in turn for a positive chat. Or develop positive mantras that you can repeat over and over again to keep you going (bonus points if they match the rhythm of your stride!)

#3 Fuel Up

Start getting used to the fuel you will use during the marathon. Don’t rely on the food and drinks at aid stations unless you are 100% sure they will suit your digestion. Ask the race organisers what they will provide, and try it out during long runs. But don’t be afraid to do your own thing: with a race belt and plenty of pockets, you can carry gels, sweets, and whatever fuel suits you best.

#4 Commit To Enjoying It

This is a simple tip but so often overlooked. Decide to enjoy it! Don’t go into training thinking that it will hurt, or be too long, or impossible. You made the decision to train for a marathon, so be proud of it. You can do this (that’s a fact). So now you have the decision: will it be enjoyable and fun, or difficult and scary? Only you can change your attitude. The miles are the same regardless.

#5 Train Like It’s Race Day

Start thinking about what kit you’ll wear on the day. Which shoes, socks, and bra? Will you wear a hat? Sunglasses? What about gloves? If you are going to wear a fuel belt for your gels (etc) then use it during training. Don’t leave anything to chance. You don’t want to wear, eat, or drink anything new on the day.

#6 Stretch… More!

Most of us neglect stretching and strength work, because marathon running takes up enough time as it is! But it’s so important. Yoga, Pilates, core strength work and body weight strengthening for your lower body will not only ease the impact of al that running. But you will lower your injury risk, and actually improve your running thanks to the extra strength, flexibility, and mobility.

#7 Taper Properly

First time marathon runners often do everything right… until the taper. Then they panic and refuse to rest enough, putting a dent in all that great progress they’ve made. So be sure to taper like an advanced runner would. Ease off the training with two weeks to go, and don’t be tempted to do just one more long run. There’s nothing more you can gain in this final fortnight, but there’s plenty you can do to damage your progress! Be confident that you’ve prepared well, then rest up and focus on getting your mind ready for race day.