26 Tips for running a Marathon
About to run a marathon for the first time? If you are, chances are you're nervous, excited and wondering what you’ve got yourself into....
RunGo's founder and experienced marathon runner Craig Slagel shares his tips for running your first marathon:
- Have fun. Don't worry about time, the slower you go the easier it will to get a PR in your next one.
- Try to get a good sleep the Friday before or days leading up to the marathon. It’s often hard to sleep the night before especially when some marathons start early. But don’t worry - the energy of the race will keep you wide awake on race day.
- Have a light dinner the night before the race. If you want to carb load, do it at lunch the day before the race. You don't want to run a marathon on a full stomach or have to stop along the way for bathroom breaks.
- Don't eat anything that could upset your stomach the day before and be careful of those high-fiber samples at the pre-race expo.
- Get all you gear ready before you go to bed, including attaching chips and race numbers so on the day all you need to do is get dressed, eat breakfast and go.
- Slowly run or walk the last few miles before the marathon if you don't know the route. This will help you know when you are close to the finish and you won’t have any surprises.
- Join a pace group, but remember pacers are human too and sometimes make mistakes and go too fast or too slow. You want to run a pace that feels a little too slow for a half marathon.
- Most people go out too fast and slow down. Running a perfect pace means lots of people pass you in the first half, and you pass a lot of people in the second half. Passing people means you aren't slowing down--and it's fun!
- Make friends. Runners are really nice people so say “hi” or “good job” to the people you are running alongside passing or are passing you.
- Post your bib number on Facebook and Twitter and link to the live tracking page (if offered) so your friends can follow you virtually.
- Write your name somewhere on your outfit or bib so people can cheer your name. Hearing your name called out will spur you on.
- If feel like you are slowing down, try running fast for 10-20 seconds to shake out your legs. Running fast uses different muscles and actually gives you a break and makes you faster. It’s a win-win.
- Smile. You’ll feel better, look better and it makes everyone smile back at you. Plus you’ll look great in those race photos.
- The best way to drink from paper cups is to hold the top between your thumb and finger and squash the rim into a spout, then drink from the spout. It allows you to drink while running and not throw water over yourself.
- Enjoy the experience of the race. Take in the view, high-five some spectators, and just enjoy running with (often thousands) of other people.
- Say thank you to spectators and volunteers.
- Relax, wave your arms around or anything to keep your muscles loose. A little run-dancing when passing a band or some music is a great way to loosen up.
- If you need to walk for a bit then do it. A lot of people walk through the water stations or take a walk break to catch their breath. Do whatever it takes so you can run through the finish line.
- Have friends and family along the route to cheer you, especially in the last 16k (10mi).
- If your legs hurt going down stairs, go down stairs backwards. It uses different muscles and isn’t as painful.
- Stay positive. Finishing you first marathon is an amazing, life-changing experience.
- When you finish walk around a bit, hydrate and eat within 30 minutes to aid a fast recovery. A marathon burns around 3000 calories.
- Write a race report. It’s a great way to remember the experience and inspire other people to stay healthy and exercise.
- Listen to your body. Slow down and stretch for a bit if things are getting tight.
- Get a post race massage, it can really help and it’s an excuse to lay down for a bit.
- Wear your medal all day the day after finishing, so people know you just ran a marathon.