February 13, 2014

Tips for first time marathoners

We're approaching spring marathon season and I've had adequate time to reflect on my first marathon experience (and also my second in January!).  Not surprisingly, I learned a lot in my first marathon.  And after I begged people for advice leading up to the race, I wanted to share some of my advice for first time marathoners.  And while much of it isn't new or terribly unique, it's worth taking in if you're approaching the starting line for your first marathon.

1. Have fun!  No really.  EVERYONE told me to enjoy the race.  In my head, I quickly moved that input aside for the more technical stuff like how to start the race, pace-wise and whatnot.  But I tried to really take in the moment. 

2. Start slower than slow.  I watched friends pace the Chicago and Grand Rapids Marathon in the two weeks leading up to my race.  Some of them struggled the last 6 miles.  For my first marathon, I had no idea what the last 10k would bring so I wanted to make sure I had gas in the tank.

3. Look around.  Another "fluffy" tip.  I made mental notes to look around at key points during the race.  I looked at fellow runners and the scenery and tried to take it all in.  This was important to me and I definitely have a few notable memories from Marine Corps Marathon.

4. Ditch the goal times.  Sure it would be fun to BQ your first marathon (like my friend Kass), but your first is really about crossing the finish line intact.  I had a general goal time of 5 hours but really wasn't sure what the finish line clock would say when I crossed the line.  Not having a time goal also eased the pressure of a pace and made it easier to just run.

5. Pay attention to your fueling.  One thing that I believe helped me avoid the dreaded wall was consistent fueling the last 10 miles of the race.  I made sure to get Gatorade at the water stops and also chomped on a Shot Blok every few miles to keep my energy up.  And another thing to consider - check out the fuel served on course and try it during training so you know your stomach will be happy.  I actually broke this rule when I snagged an orange slice around mile 10 but I know orange juice sat ok in my stomach so I took a risk.  Luckily it paid off!

6. Take a few photos.  I'm not necessarily recommending that you take photos during the race, but make sure you commemorate your day.  I am forever grateful that I have a few great shots from before and after the race.  
This one will never get old
Are you getting ready for your first full?
{Christine}

14 comments:

  1. Christine, my marathon goal is Dopey 2015. I don't have a time goal, my only real goal is to ride Expedition Everest in the middle of the marathon. So I guess I have to be faster than the balloon ladies. I love your tips!

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  2. I think taking photos is essential, whether you're preparing for your first full, first half, or first race of any distance. We took the majority of our pictures during the Disney World Half during the first half of the race, and because I was so focused on pushing through the frustration of the course crowding, and then later some physical pain, we didn't take any pictures after we left Magic Kingdom until we got back to Epcot. Part of me wishes that I had even more pictures than we came home with, but I'm definitely thankful for the ones we did take before, during, and after the race.

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  3. Thanks for the advice, Christine! My first marathon is actually two weeks from Saturday, so this is exactly what I needed to read now that I am tapering! :0)

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  4. It's great to get tips from a variety of people and hear what worked and didn't work for them! After PHM weekend I will be embarking on a big journey and this tips will come in handy! Love the picture of you with the military man! That totally portrays what that race was all about!

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  5. All great tips, Christine! I think any new runner doing a long distance for the first time can learn from what you've shared.

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  6. I just LOVE this pic of you getting saluted at MCM - that race is on my to do list!

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  7. I agree that your first marathon should have no time goal - finish smiling should always be goal number 1.

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  8. Nope, not a runner, but if I were, these are great tips! (:

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  9. LOVE the "ditch the time goal" bit of advice. I was told that many times before the WDW Marathon and I'm so glad that Cyanne and I followed that advice. It was an important part in making our first marathon a success :)
    Karen @karenlovestorun

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  10. Love this! Thanks for the words of wisdom! I think it's important to remember that it's a big moment and to relax and take it all in.

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  11. Love these! The no goal time, I agree with Karen, it was key to our success. I also fully agree with the fueling piece. I forced myself at times to take a Gu even if I didn't think I needed it,because I knew my body was not itself in that environment and needed to be powered up.

    I'd also say, if its a new city, go check out the actual course. Even if you know it, you might not. In RnRPhilly this fall, I'd run the route dozens of times, but never the road, always the path, so I was blown away when the road was so pitched and it killed my knees.

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  12. Great tips! I'm currently training or my first full and I can use all the expert advice I can get! :D

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  13. Great tips! I just ran my first Full a couple weeks ago with my friend Karen and I am glad I did because we had so much fun. We took pics/video along the way and still came in Sub 5 :) A Great ,Fun, Experience #roadto26.2 Claimed!

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  14. Great tips! Especially the one to start slow and the one about taking it in! While the finish line is the goal, the journey really is worth savoring (ok some points probably more than other!). I am not sure I'll ever really be ready for a first full marathon, but if I do your tips will be invaluable!

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