5 Tips for Running your First Marathon
With the temperature dropping below zero, it might be hard to believe marathon season is right around the corner. If you are training for your first marathon, January might seem like the worst time to pick up marathoning, but it could also be the best time ever.
Below are 5 tips that will ensure that you have a great first marathon experience. Even if you’re not a newbie, these tips can be beneficial to any runner.
1. Think of Yourself as an Athlete
The legendary University of Oregon track and field coach, and Nike co-founder, Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”
As you begin training for your first marathon, it becomes important to realize that you are no longer “just” a runner or a jogger. Adjusting your thinking to the idea that you are an ‘athlete’ helps you feel more accountable and puts a higher priority on your training. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish with this new mindset.
2. Better to be Undertrained than Overtrained
Overtraining is one of the most common mistakes that new marathoners make. The thought of running 26.2 miles leads a lot of athletes to over-prepare for the distance by running more miles or more workouts than ever before. This will likely cause you to become fatigued, burned out or injured.
I confess that I fell into this same trap when I ran my first marathon. I tried to log more miles and push myself to accomplish harder workouts than I ever did before in my life. At the start of the marathon I was tired and burned out. Sadly, the race did not goes as planned.
Instead of forcing miles or workouts, opt for a more manageable training plan that doesn’t overload your running with too many new things.
3. Get to Know your Marathon Pace
As a coach, I get the opportunity to work with athletes of all ability levels and running backgrounds. No matter the athletic ability or goals of my athletes, training runs at marathon goal pace are an absolute must for marathoners. It’s hard to have a successful marathon if your body is not used to running the pace you set out to complete the race.
Spending time getting used to the pace you will run during the marathon will allow you to assess your level of fitness and decide if the time goal you have is realistic for your current fitness level.
Of course, this assumes you know your goal pace. If you’re unsure what your goal should be, take a recent race result and plug it into a VDot calculator to get a rough idea. If you’re still not sure, email me and we can chat!
4. Find a Training Partner or Running Group
If you live and train in Minnesota, I don’t have to tell you that it can be hard to find motivation during the winter months to get out the door. Training with a group can make running a very fun social event, and give you that extra motivation to keep logging the miles week after week.
If you need help finding a group, one of the best places to start is your local running specialty store.
5. Tell Friends and Family
Letting your friends and family in on your marathon goals is another great way to stay motivated. It may even give you a free pass when training gets in the way of family or social time. Plus, having your goal out in the open makes it feel more real. As a former elite athlete, I often felt comforted knowing my friends and family were behind me during all of my training runs and races.
Friends and family may surprise you by rallying around your goal. They might tag along on a bike during long runs, put up with LOTS of pasta, go to bed early on the weekends, and have a little more grace when it comes to extra projects around the house.
Running Your First Marathon
As you decide to embark on your first marathon, what things are you still wondering about? What scares you and what excites you? I’d love to be a resource however I can, so leave a comment below. I’ve also written this free training plan for anyone starting their 26.2 journey. I can’t wait to root for you as you tackle this amazing goal!