10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Marathon

  

1. Have an 8 mile base before you start.

Arguably, you should have trained for a half marathon by this point. Marathons happen to be something that you can’t just jump into without some type of prior training or running experience. The thing about a marathon and it’s training is that it’s completely unpredictable. You could have an awesome training, and then a shitty race. Or your training could be one of the hardest things that you’ve ever done in your life, and you just stop. It takes a lot to run a marathon. 

Having that comfortable 8 miles as a base is great because you’re almost halfway done with your distance right there. Plus, that the distance of your first long run!

2. You need a fuel belt or hydration pack. 

Running any distance carrying a water bottle can suck. Problems arise, like the extra weight hurting your arms or maybe being a jerk-bag litter-er.

You can look on Amazon, at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, any running store, or even Dick’s Sporting Goods. There’s all types of varieties. The main difference is usually bottle size. For me, I have a hydration Pack that holds normal size water bottles. For some people, that’s too heavy. There’s a lot of options in size. It just comes down to how much weight you’re comfortable carrying, and how much water you believe that you need.


3. Invest in Gu or Jelly Beans
 

Believe me, on a long run you will feel fatigued and tired. Those little jellybeans or nasty gu can give you the energy to push you through to the very end. Sometimes, water and a pre-run meal don’t finish the job!

The cool part about these electrolyte carrying goodies, is that a lot of them come in sizes that you can carry in your field. It doesn’t really add any extra weight. And, so that actually do taste good. I choose the jellybeans for that option. However, salted caramelGu, is, from what I’ve been told, the Mecca of runner run foods. 


4. It costs more than an entry fee, but the pay off is worth it. 

Shoes, clothing, the sudden increase in pasta, Olive Garden, pizza, essentially all items that require food prices going up, having to take time off from work for recovery days, and, last but not least, all of the stuff that you didn’t realize you needed that you find at the expo add up.   Running is an expensive ass hobby. Much like dietary changes, it is a lifestyle change in itself. Something that you definitely have to budget for. I would say the most important thing you don’t budget for is how much you von love with running. That “you-time” is priceless.

5. You may need multiple pairs of shoes.

 As I said before, you definitely have to keep shoes and mine. It’s not good to just train in one pair. Having a variety will also help your knees get used to different feelings of shoes. They say you’re never supposed to run a race and new shoes, but by trading off shoes, that happened to not be of the same type, you’re really helping yourself become a stronger runner and saving mileage.

6. You NEED to follow a training plan.

Experienced runners, or people that I’ve had training in running may not need this. But, having a training plan requires accountability, and helps you set goals for yourself. Knowing that you’re going to have a 10 mile run at the end of the week definitely helps you reconsider a couple of choices. Maybe you won’t stay up late binging on Netflix, or you think those hot wings might be a bad choice before 20 mile run. Knowing what you have coming and seeing what types of runs that you can do for yourself helps the marathon become easier. Not too many people can just go out and run a marathon. 

I’m only a month removed from mine, but in that month I rested, was sick, and have just started getting quick again. It takes time, and I probably could run a marathon right now. It just wouldn’t be at the time I wanted it to be. Your body needs to get used to what you’re putting it through, and training plans are safe route to do it.
 
7. You need to ignore the scale.

You’re going to gain some weight marathon training. I have been lucky in the fact that in the weight I’ve gained, it’s really bad muscle mass. So I’ve actually been looking like I’ve lost weight. However some people pack on the pounds.  Don’t worry- your body needs that fuel. That energy is not fat. It is something that your body will feed off of. And you’ll find that once your marathon training is over, and you’re resting it’ll fall right off because your body is just so fatigued. The scale is not your best friend. Your goal time is. 

8. You’ll develop a race ritual.

This may sound weird, but many runners already have one. It’s something that you don’t really notice until you think about. I have to fit in active waffles with butter and syrup, I sit with my dog and share them with him, and then I go drive myself to a race, parka ballpark Village, and then jog to soldiers memorial and go to the starting line. That, so far, has been my pre-race ritual for my two marathons.

my dog being judgemental before a long run

My long run ritual, includes the same shirt and shorts, waffles, and, most likely, Forest Park.  You’ll find what helps you groove. Whether it’s music playlist, a favorite pair of socks, or just an area where you feel at home. It all becomes a part of the ritual.

9. Carb load 2 days before a long run.  

Don’t ask, just do it. It kind of goes along with the whole “don’t listen to your scale” thing.  Before it 18 or 22 mile run, you’re going to eat about 4000 cal the day before, and even the day before then don’t be afraid to eat some carbs. Your body needs it. It is your only excuse to ever just pack on the food.

10. Post Marathon resting is just as important as cross training and resting.

Me and the rest day don’t get along. I run at least 3 miles a day. Currently I’ve been on the 3 to 6 mile street for the last week and a half. This coming week I’m pre-training for my next marathon so I can begin to get the fee of what I’m in for. 

 
However,  after winter where I  was essentially side mind for a month and a half, I have learned to take pure pleasure in a rest day. I may only run a mile, but I’m still doing something. However, I run a lot so my body reacts differently. For new runners,  this day is one of the most important because it allows your muscles to grow. 

Embrace the rest day. It is your friend, just like running.

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