My First Marathon- Part 3
This week I’ve been recapping my first marathon experience.
Today I wanted to touch on some of the things I learned through this whole process.
First, if you are thinking about running a marathon- Do it.
So many people have told me that running a marathon was on their bucket list. That is normally followed by, “but I never could because I’m too old, or my knees are bad, or I don’t have time to train.”
And true, some people will be told by their doctor it’s just not an option for them. But other than that, I say if it’s on your bucket list, find a way to make it happen.
So how do you start? Just pick a marathon that is four to six months out and sign up. It’s really that simple.
Now you have your deadline. And it’s time to figure out how you’ll get there. That takes me to step two…
Find a marathon training plan and follow it.
There are lots of plans out there and they don’t have to be expensive. Runner’s World has some great plans that start at $9.99. You can find one that fits within the hours you have to train in a week and your goal for the race.
If you like the idea of training with a group, reach out to your local running store and see if they have a training program.
Before I got hurt, I joined a training program through my local Fleet Feet store (they are nationwide). I loved meeting new people who were passionate about running and following the training program.
And now that you are running always remember to…
This is seriously the biggest thing I learned. No matter what people tell you- it doesn’t matter if you stretch before you run, stretching really doesn’t help you, a quick stretch is fine- don’t believe them.
I know because I said all of those things and this philosophy earned me a stress fracture and six weeks in a walking boot.
You must, must stretch. Every day.
I recommend 5 minutes before you run, 10-20 minutes after run and another 10-20 minutes in the evening, even on non-running days.
Your body will feel a billion times better, you’ll prevent injuries, and you’ll likely get faster.
If you’re crunched for time, cut back on your miles for the day and make time for the stretch.
And speaking of caring for your body, it’s important to…
Learn how to fuel
Until I joined a running group, I didn’t think fueling was important. Now I can’t imagine running more than 90 minutes without eating a breakfast first and taking in a gel during the run.
As you’re training, test out some different gels, other fueling options, and ways to hydrate. You’ll start to find what works best for you. Everyone is different so you won’t know if you don’t give different things a try.
And I know it’s been said by a million other running bloggers and running publications, but don’t try anything new race day.
If you’ve been training by eating a donut every morning before your long run, eat a donut the morning of your marathon.
And after that marathon, really look into changing up your eating habits!!
And don’t keep this marathon a secret! Definitely…
Share your goal with family and friends.
When I signed up for my first half marathon in 2012 I was so nervous to tell anyone. What if I failed???
I remember the day before my race starting a fight with my husband in the hopes he wouldn’t want to travel to the race.
I was that scared of failure.
And I was totally wrong. He and my step kids came and it was an amazing experience. Having them at the finish line meant the world to me.
For the marathon, instead of keeping it to myself, I told my family, friends, blogged about it, and put it on my social media platforms.
The support has been amazing and meant the world to me.
My cousin and her husband even surprised me by showing up to race.
They live in New York, and because I had shared that signed up for marathon in San Diego, they changed up plans they had to be at a wedding in California and flew out early to cheer me on.
Even better, it was a complete surprise, because I didn’t know they were there until I saw them holding a sign on mile 11 of the marathon course.
I’ll never forget the moment I saw them. Never.
And that leads me to my final tip…
Enjoy the race.
I know 26.2 miles can seem overwhelming. And no doubt you’ll have a bad race that you can’t enjoy, but if at all possible, just enjoy it.
This is your victory lap!!
You’ve put in the hard work and now all these people are cheering you on. That just doesn’t happen every day!
During the race, I waved to people cheering us on, I thanked volunteers when they handed me water, gave thumbs up to the police officers that were along the course.
I made my own Spotify playlist with all my favorite, upbeat songs and enjoyed them. I even sang along sometimes.
I looked around at all the areas I got to run through and when times got hard, I looked down at my sobriety date that I wrote in marker on the inside of my arm.
This whole process has been such a blessing. I hope to train for and enjoy running many more marathons to come!
Have other suggestions or ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below.