9 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

9 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

by Sue Jones
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Honerkamp also suggested a straightforward, but crucial, C goal: Get to the starting line healthy. As in, you’re injury-free, you feel well rested, you feel confident in your training, you trust the gear and footwear you’ve got on.

If your goal is to stay healthy, consider this bonus: You’ll have an immediate mood boost just by standing at the starting line, feeling good. You’ve already achieved your C goal! Consider how much you’ve already accomplished simply by showing up every day for your training and making it to the race.

Other non-time goals could be more tangentially related, for instance: Cutting back on drinking in the weeks leading up to the race, or prioritizing sleep and focusing on healthy foods—whatever that looks like to you. Another option? Make it your goal to run your fastest, hardest, and smartest on the day of the marathon.

On Race Day…

Treat it like a long run—and don’t change a thing.

Repeat after us: Nothing new on race day.

“Take the risks when there’s nothing at stake,” Désir says. “You don’t want anything to compromise that experience.” Other experts agreed.

“Don’t wear anything you haven’t worn before on race day. Never wear any brand new sneakers, socks, shirts, pants, shorts, tights, any of that,” Mashia says. Furthermore, Mashia emphasizes that you should avoid wearing anything that you haven’t already done a long run in. Running 26.2 miles is totally different than running two miles. So if you’ve only tested a particular shirt or headband on a shorter distance—don’t expect it to necessarily hold up for the long haul.

Keeping things consistent on race day also has an added bonus of keeping you mentally where you need to be. Getting ready the morning of your race should feel just like any other long run morning (though admittedly, you might be up a tad earlier).

Be prepared for it to get hard, and know that you can push through it.

At some point, all of our experts pointed out, marathons get hard. Really hard. Often referred to as “the wall,” most marathoners tend to hit a point in the race where they feel like they can’t go on. Whether it’s aching legs, a burning in your lungs, or the overall heaviness of fatigue—there’s a point where you may want to stop.

But here’s the thing: For the most part—barring of course, an actual injury—most runners will push through the difficulty and finish their race. (Seriously, according to NYRR, over 98% of runners who started the NYC Marathon in 2019, finished it.) So what gets you through?

“So much about running is your inner dialogue and self-talk,” Diboun says. “You get to do this. Our lives are so good that we have to pay money to do this. And you are doing something that only a very small percentage of people on this planet do. Running with gratitude is a powerful tool and that’s one of the things I’m always stressing people to reflect on.”

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