Running a marathon is a huge challenge but there are certain things you can do that will help to make sure it all goes well. Here are 10 tips to help you run your best first marathon plus your essential marathon checklist download.
From about 3 – 4 weeks out follow a gradual taper and rest up. It can be tempting to continue to run long distances when you should be tapering but it’s much better to go into the race undertrained than over trained. If you’re under trained you can rely on adrenaline to get you through but the same can’t be said if you’re muscles are tired from over training.
Lay out your kit well in advance, that way, if you discover you’re missing something you still have plenty of time to get hold of it. Use my downloadable marathon checklist to help you make sure you have everything you might need during the day.
Try not to set yourself a finishing time, especially if it’s your first marathon. There are so many variables that can affect your performance on the day (wind, heat, rain etc). Instead set yourself the expectation of finishing strong and go into the marathon with an open mind about what the day will bring. Running your first marathon is all about completing the distance rather than beating the clock.
It’s a good idea to review the course map so that you’re familiar with it. Of course, there’s no need to memorise the route because you’ll be following plenty of other runners but studying it before the race will help you get an understanding of where the hydration stations and aid stations are. Knowing the route will also help you develop a mental strategy to help you get around the course.
There’s nothing worse than being rushed or feeling panicked before you run. Make sure you plan ahead to allow yourself plenty of time for warming up and last minute loo visits.
It’s not always easy to sleep before a challenge like the marathon. Try reading a good book or drinking herbal tea to help take your mind off the task ahead.
Having a mantra or two can help you stay positive and focussed throughout the race. Use your mantras to keep you going and get rid of any negative thoughts when times get tough.
When it comes to the kit you’re wearing and the food you eat, the best advice is to stick to what you know works and avoid anything new on race day.
Splitting the distance down into shorter blocks helps the race feel more manageable. This is especially useful towards the end of the marathon when the going might get a little more tough. You could even try dedicating each mile to a friend or family member.
As you start to fatigue it’s easy to let your running form fade. Set a timer on your watch or use the hydration stations as reminders to check your form. Are your shoulders relaxed, hips under your shoulders and feet landing with short strides?