How to run your first marathon
Tips and tricks for tackling your first marathon running race.
So you’ve decided to run a marathon. 26 miles is a very long way and not just something that can be done on a whim. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help you conquer this momentous challenge.
Talk to people.
You’re not the first person to run a marathon and you certainly won’t be the last! So don’t be afraid to ask someone for advice. Seasoned marathon runners will have a vast vault of tips and tricks to give you a more personal insight into the challenge you’re taking on.
Check you’ve got the right gear.
You may not think it but running equipment requires more thought than you’d think. As part of your training, you will want to work out what clothes you feel most comfortable running in.
Running shoes especially can contribute massively to your enjoyment on the run. Do lots of research to ensure that the shoes you run in have the right amount of support and are comfortable enough that you would be happy to spend 4–6 hours running in them.
Check out this handy guide on all the other equipment you may need to tackling the 26 mile beast!
Make sure you’re physically and mentally prepared. You should start your training at least 16 weeks before the big day to give your body enough time to get accustomed to running for such a distance.
Make sure you taper for 3–5 days before your marathon. You won’t lose any fitness or conditioning in this time and the last thing you want to do is go into a huge run with fatigued legs!
A short and gentle run the day before your marathon is also a good way to calm any last minute nerves and relieve any tension in your legs from your training.
You’ll need to make sure that you’re got all your logistics sorted before you leave the house. Do lots of research on the event website so you know exactly when and where you have to be to ensure you don’t get left behind!
Make sure you plan your travel to the start line so you can get there in plenty of time. The last thing you want to do is get to the start line with 5 minutes to spare and no time to relax and compose yourself before the big run.
Plan your run.
If your training has all gone to plan, you’ll know what sort of performance you can produce on the day. Set yourself a realistic goal and plan how you can achieve it. You don’t want to go off too fast and risk expending all energy in the first few miles of the race and then not being able to complete the run. But at the same time, you don’t want to finish the run with energy to spare. Leave everything out on the course! It also helps if you have a running buddy so you can stay with each other and keep one another on pace.
‘Don’t be an idiot in the first half, don’t be a wimp in the second’Let’s Do This Co-founder, Sam Browne
You wouldn’t go for a long drive without properly fuelling up your car, so don’t treat your body any differently. Running nutrition is crucial to ensuring a comfortable and sustainable run. Many runners will eat too much on the night before the run — this can be counterproductive! The trick is to have your last big meal 36 hours before the big run so that your body has time to process it and get all the energy from it.
Carbs are key. This means lots of pasta and potatoes and rice to make sure you give your body all the energy it needs to complete your marathon.
Your final dinner before the run should just be a normal balanced meal, meaning a healthy combo of protein, carbs and some fats. You’ll also want to avoid caffeine and alcohol or other drinks that will dehydrate you or interrupt your important final sleep.
And last but not least, enjoy it. The atmosphere at these events is always electric. Try not to be too nervous, you won’t be only first-timer so don’t get intimidated by all the keen beans. So just stay positive, believe in yourself and enjoy it. Good luck!