Here’s Our Top Tips & Training Advice For Successfully Completing A First Time Marathon
Whether you are thinking about running, in the middle of a long training plan for a marathon or even just a few days before race day. This guide has relevant, useful and handy tips and advice for running your first ever marathon.
In today’s World, you often are stuck at a desk or a mundane job. You may also be gripped in a boring routine. Morale can easily be lost and work isn’t always the most interesting existence, but exercise is a fantastic escape. Particularly running.
Whether you are running on a treadmill at the gym or outside (which is so much more fun than the gym!), running is an amazing way to push life’s rest button. The human species evolved to do it. This natural movement helps you stay fit and healthy, gives you endorphins and gets you out in the open fresh air.
But since you’re here for marathon tips, I’ll assume you already know that! The following tips are here to be of reference when you’ve decided to run your first marathon. Well done you.
Initial Training Tips – Start Early & Train Slow
I found this lesson out the hard way. May 2019 was my first ever marathon and I’ve been a consistent runner for a few years previously, with a half marathon and several other events under my belt.
The first marathon tip you always here, start training early. This is very useful and relevant. However, do not assume because you have been running for a long time that your body will instantly be able to cope with consistent long distances!
I made the mistake (my flatmate as well) of upping our distance too quickly, within the first week of training we were hitting 10 miles at 8-8.30 minute pace. Having only ran 6 miles consistently before this I soon found the error of my ways with an injury.
Several hundred pounds of physio later and lots of training and I was ready. But all this could have been avoided, here’s how:
- Know your body and what you are capable of. If you run consistently when you start training start at that same level of distance and pace.
- Create a training plan based on this. Having a plan for your training that gets you to marathon distance is key.
- 16 weeks is a good amount of time to train for a marathon with 3-4 runs per week.
- Increase distance slowly and decrease pace as distance increases if needed to ensure you feel comfortable at longer distances.
- Don’t over-do it. Pushing for that extra mile early on in training can be a real knockback to your plan if you get injured. Stick to your increases in distance and even if you feel fine after them, don’t overdo it!
Remember, every single person is different when they run. Focus on your body and how you feel when you run and tailor your training based on this.
Warm Up Before Running
It is so important to warm up! Stretch out your legs and back thoroughly before getting out there. The best way to do this is to get a Foam Roller. These were recommended by my physio. They have been essential to me for loosening up those difficult leg muscles when combined with the correct stretches.
Making sure all of your leg muscles and feet are ready to go has to be one of the most important things you do throughout your training. Without a proper warm up the chances of injury significantly increase. Injury is your worst enemy when long-distance running, especially for marathons so you should do everything possible to prevent it! Which brings us on to our next tip.
Rest & Recovery Marathon Tips
Perhaps as important as warmups when training for a marathon are your cooldowns, rest time and recovery periods. When you finish a long run it is important to replenish your body with lots of water and electrolytes, as well as protein. The easiest way and the most successful way to do this for me was run recovery drinks combined with lots of water.
Hydration is essential for your body before, during exercise and after to ensure that you can recover quickly and effectively. Carbohydrates and protein are also highly important to maintain energy levels and recover muscles from the constant impact exercise. Supplementing a healthy, balanced diet with run recovery drinks after exercise can be an excellent way to recover, ready for the next run and eventually your marathon.
Sleep is also another consideration. You will perform better, run for longer and be less fatigued if you have a good sleep routine, and get enough of the stuff! Be mindful of this during your training plan.
Preparing Your Mind For A Marathon
People often forget this one. Preparing your mind, as well as your body is key. This is because there will always be times when you feel like giving up, or you don’t want to carry on during a marathon. They are simply natural feelings to have, that in order to complete the run, you have to overcome.
Part of your training should include thinking about your focus, and length of time you can focus for. This will help you stay in the moment on your marathon and not drift away to negative thoughts about how far you still have to run, or how tired your legs are. The more you can focus, the better you can do. It is also a benefit for everyday life too.
Preparing your mind for something like a marathon will get you great mental strength, the strength that you can draw upon in dark times to keep going. Never giving up is how you get through the run, and that is also a good life lesson.
Ready for Race Day? Tips to Stay Fuelled
So you’ve trained the mind, body and spirit and you’re ready for race day. Something you may do throughout training is to take extra fuel for those long runs. This is essential when running a marathon as your body doesn’t naturally store enough energy to complete one. Running energy gels were our favourite method of staying topped up with electrolytes and energy while running.
This is the choice of many athletes in running, cycling, triathlon and other endurance sports and I could see why. Easily stuffed into a pocket or bum bag whilst on the go, you can easily take on board extra carbs and electrolytes with a few of these over the course of a long run or marathon.
Combining these with regular sips of water will help them absorb quicker and you’ll really feel an energy boost from taking them. Every person is different but I took one at just over 1 hour of running and at 6 miles intervals following this. If you want to know how you will best react to them, try them as part of your training plan.
Additionally, runners will use other energy sources like jelly sweets, malt loaf and other sugary snacks. I preferred to stick to something liquid and isotonic as it was easier on the stomach for me but you may find otherwise.
Have Fun Running Your First Marathon
Hopefully, these marathon tips will help you. Remember lastly to enjoy it and smile. I did mine for my dad, who has Alzheimer’s, he gave me a huge amount of motivation and inspiration. If you choose a cause to run for, big respect for you. Make a difference, raise some money and good luck smashing that marathon!