3 Things To Know When Running Your First Marathon

via Sheena Dinga – AVAC


I just completed my first marathon and it was the most strenuous and accomplishing thing that I have ever done. I have always been a runner, but 5K’s and 10K’s are usually my forte. I did do a half marathon 2 years ago, but I didn’t train and walked most of it. When signing up for the Surfers Path I knew that this was going to be a horse of a different color and walking most of it was not going to be an option. I probably did more research on how not to kill myself then I have on any other thing in my life. I figured that since I probably won’t be doing another marathon anytime soon I would write everything down to help out anyone else that may be taking on this task for the first time, but also so I wouldn’t have to re-look everything up. Here are my top 3 things that I have learned.

sheena race

1. Find A Race – This is one of the most important things to start out with. Remember that you are going to be running that course for roughly 6 hours. If you are not interested in the course you are running, that is going to be a very long 26.2 miles. I remember being so excited to do the Disneyland half marathon and loving the first 5 miles of weaving in and out of the park and the next 8 miles being the most boring run I have ever done. I promised I would never let that happen again. Also look at the course in general. See what obstacles you are going to have to train for. If your not too keen on hills maybe don’t look into the San Francisco Marathon. On that note, let’s get to the next point…

2. Training Plan – There are a million different training plans out there. Find one that works for you. I used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training plan. Some have you rest after your long run day and others have a recovery run the day after. Find one that works for you and your body, but remember that every training plan is more of a guideline then a play by play. Take that plan that you like and work it into your schedule. If it’s saying to run 4 days a week with one long run and 3 short runs, MAKE SURE YOU DO THE LONG RUNS!!!!!!!! and if you need to cut one of the short runs that week, no worries. There were weeks where I only had time for one short run of 3 miles and my long run was 12. I made it work. But I can not stress enough that you cannot skip your long runs. Stretching 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after will help with the soreness and recovery. You should also go out and purchase a foam roller. That will be your new best friend. Pacing yourself and practicing your starts and stops are very important. Everything I read said that when your training it’s smart to stop and walk when you want to not when you need to. But at the same time that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself a little. Use your 8 and 10 mile runs to see how far you can go without stopping so you can start to learn when you should stop.
One more important thing to remember is that any marathon training plan is going to be about 4-5 months long. So if you think you can start your training one to two months before, you are way wrong. Marathons cannot be a procrastinated thought there is a lot of prep and planning that goes into it.

3. Nutrition – Carbo Loading and Gu…2 things you hear constantly, but how do you know you are doing it right? Well here is everything I found…
Pre-race nutrition also known as carbo loading is probably the most fun part. Most people think that it is only done the night before the race. Actually you should start at least 5 days before the race. This way it gets you used to having this kind of food in your body and your not figuring out the day of the race that it doesn’t quite agree with you. But more importantly, It takes your body time to break down the food and store whats needed. A little science for your you — the carbs you eat turn into glycogen and it get’s stored in your muscles. Glycogen is your fuel, your energy. When you run out of glycogen your body turns to fat for energy. This of course takes longer and your body has to slow down to do so. This is when you hit “the wall”. Ok science lesson over — pastas, rice, bread and baked potatoes (without skin) are a good source for carbs. Fruits like apples, peaches and pears are also a good source, but you have to remove the skin for the skin contains a lot of fiber. And we all know what fiber does. Bananas would be a good low fiber choice.
During race nutrition is a little easier. I just used the GU packs but there are soooooo many choices for you. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for you. With the GU packs there are so many flavors and different brands to choose from. Cliff and GU were my favorite brands, but there are so many others. There are also Cliff Shot Blocks and Jelly Belly Sport Beans that I have heard great things about. Honestly, just figure out what options you want to try out and take them with you on your training runs. You should consume the energy pack of your choice about every hour. It’s also good to take it with water for it helps it go down easier. Some can feel a little heavy after running for that long.
And of course DRINK WATER! Before, during and after. I tried to drink a gallon a day for a whole week before. That might be a little extreme, but running 26 miles is also on the extreme side. Because you are constantly sweating, you need to drink during the run to replenish the liquids. And of course after because you have to continue to replenish.
Well I hope this helps for all of you new marathon runners. I am no doctor or anything so everything I have here I found from personal experience and google, but I think it is a good compilation of information. Good Luck to all of you and see you at the finish line!

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