5 Tips for Your First Marathon1 Comment
So you’ve decided to run your first marathon. A decision not taken lightly, with preparations likely well under way. You probably have many thoughts and emotions running through your head and might not be sure what to expect come race day. Whether you’re just starting out or are already well into your training, these tips will help to you prepare well and make your first marathon experience a success.
1. Plan your runs ahead of time.
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover that training for a marathon can feel like a part time job. You can expect to be on the road for multiple hours/week with varying distances and speeds. Make sure to set a plan ahead of time so you never have to rely on any particular day’s feelings or motivations. Include varying distances and speeds and try to limit yourself to one long run/week. There are multiple resources out there to help you set an appropriate training schedule for your fitness level, including local running groups or apps that offer sample training courses for all race levels.
2. Don’t ignore injuries.
If you’ve been running for any length of time, you already understand that running doesn’t come without its own set of aches and pains. While post run soreness and slight discomfort in your hips, knees and ankles may be common, it’s important not to ignore serious or persistent injuries. A good rule of thumb is to stop your run and seek medical attention if you ever have pain that is sharp, progressively worsening over the course of your run, or is persistent for days following a workout. Learn more by reading this blog on avoiding red lights in marathon training, or this one on ways to prevent training injuries for additional information. Thankfully, many running injuries are repetitive use injuries and are often treatable with conservative care. Reach out to your local Athletico clinic to set up a Free Assessment and have a qualified clinician check things out to make sure you get the appropriate care your body needs. I always tell my patients, if it’s not getting better without help, why would you expect it to get better without help?
3. Know your race route and rules.
What is the layout of the course? Are there multiple hills? Do they allow ear buds? What time does it start? How many participants are they expecting? The more crowded the field, the larger of a choke point you can expect in the first mile or two. You can improve your comfort level on the day of the race by understanding what to expect and training under the conditions that you will be racing.
4. Give your body the fuel it needs.
Make sure to carb load a few days before your long runs as well as before the big race. Carbs will be the first source of energy you use and will help to fuel you throughout the run. Most races will hand out some sort of carbohydrate/energy shot or gel. Make sure that you find out what will be offered through the race beforehand to determine if you will be using that product or if you need to bring your own fuel for the duration of the run. Don’t let race day also be experiment day when it comes to fueling your body for the run.
5. Have an after-race plan (be prepared for the fall out).
You’ll likely be exhausted after completing your first marathon. Sore muscles and fatigue may ensue for the upcoming days. Make sure you don’t have any heavy activities planned at home or work (long walks, repetitive lifting, etc). You may even want to consider getting a massage within a week after the marathon to promote healing. That said, it is normal to experience soreness after the race, so plan on getting appropriate rest. Read our marathon race recovery blog for more information about recovering after the big race.
Most importantly, remember to have fun and enjoy your first marathon!
If aches and pains persist during marathon training or after race day, schedule a free assessment at your nearest Athletico location so our experts can help you heal.
Free assessments are available both in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.