Top 10 | Tips for running your first marathon

1. Stick to what you know

Adopting a new meal plan, sleep pattern, running shoe or warm-up technique on the day of your first marathon is a recipe for disaster. Follow your routine from training on the day of the race. Train like you plan on racing. Eat what you’re going to eat before the race. Marathon morning is not the time for even a slightest change in your routine.

2. Don’t over-carb it

By all means up your carb content during your taper – but be wary over overdoing it! If you’re not a big carbohydrate eater as it is, this is just going to make you feel pretty bloated and rotten come race morning. Your mileage is already going to be lower during this week, therefore your calorie burning is lower too. Be conscious of this, and stick to a good balance without going crazy on the spaghetti carbonara!

3. Do some pre-race map reading

This may sound silly, but if you’ve not managed to already get out on the marathon course during your training plan, it’s worth spending some time looking over the course map and familiarising yourself with some key points on the way round. This will give you piece of mind along the course

4. Don’t underestimate the amount of fuel you’ll need

As much as a good breakfast is critical to fuelling your energy levels before a marathon, it won’t keep you going the whole way around. Muscles use up carbohydrate, which will quickly deplete during your marathon. By consuming gels as you run, your muscles will take less fuel from your carbohydrate store to keep you going for longer. Keep things consistent with your training and what works for you – but as a good starter I’d say consuming 2 gels every hour to ensure a large store of carbohydrate will set you up for a strong finish.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

If you have a bad run, don’t beat yourself up about it! It’s common to have a ‘bad’ run a month or two before your marathon. We’ve all had that confidence shattering run, where we’ve struggled so much we’re left contemplating whether the race we’re training for is even in our reach. Struggling is natural. If your body is telling you that 12 miles is too much on that day, listen to it – there is always tomorrow.

6. Don’t start too fast on race day

A mistake new marathoners commonly make is getting carried away with the excitement on the day. The hype of the race often makes people sprint , I remember this back in Paris. If you take off flying, three miles in you’ll be tired with 23 more miles to go. Start off slow. Pick up your speed as you get going. Once you’re on the move, be aware of how your body feels so you can create your own rhythm. Take the time to decide what to do next – pick up the pace, or stay where you are. Don’t get caught up with everyone around you,. Listen to what’s going on with your own body.

7. Wear the right clothes

Just as I mentioned with trainers, finding and wearing the right gear is just as important as finding the motivation to get out there and get started. There’s something about pulling on a new pair of leggings or  investing in a fancy sports bra (so what if it’s only you that gets to appreciate it) that makes getting out the door that little bit inspiring, after all if you’re forking out on some Lululemon or Sweaty Betty gear you’ll want people to appreciate it right? As cliched as it may sound — theres a whole lot of truth in look good-feel good.

8. Keep your head high

Don’t let people who look like serious runners intimidate you. Many people look like they are about to race for a gold medal at the Olympics. But don’t get caught in that place of thinking that everyone looks so strong and fit. Looks mean nothing. Only your own inner determination to do your best gets you to the finish line. This is your race.

9. Write your name on your shirt or wear something unique

When I ran the New York Marathon in 2016, I wore a plain white running top and one fan actually yelled right to me, “Go white T-shirt guy!” In 2017, when I had my name plastered across my chest for the first time, the personalised “Go Lily!” cheers made a huge difference.

10. Bring warm clothes and a throw-away blanket to the start

Sitting on the ground in the cold for two to five hours is not a pleasant way to prepare to run a marathon. If you are cold or stiff before the race you are probably going to be in trouble. Although most marathons have race staff that will bring your clothes to the finish line, the bag provided usually isn’t big enough for the blanket, so bring something you don’t mind leaving behind.


The Habit Hunter x

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