Advice For The First Time Marathoner

Written by Ann Brennan

dailymile-transparent-reflectedIn a little over a week, DailyMiler, Maggi will be running her first marathon. My friend Paula Kiger pointed this out to me.

“She’s nervous,” Paula wrote, “Do you have any words of wisdom?”

Before my first marathon I read everything I could get my hands on – all of the tips and tricks that were printed in Runners’ World, everything that was in the Annapolis Strider’s newsletter, and anything else I could find.

There were so many things to learn. Don’t do anything on race day you haven’t done before. Don’t wear new clothes, eat new foods, or drink new drinks. When you get tired take ten big strides to fool your legs into thinking they are not tired. Break the race up into pieces – two ten milers and one 10k. Have fun. Thank the volunteers at each water station and road crossing. High-five the children who line the course. All of these tips were wonderful and very helpful.

But the one bit of advice I offer every new marathon I meet?

There is only one first time. Soak it all in. For me, that means you should start enjoying the moment now. Start thinking about what you want from the day and start visualizing every moment of it.

Think about how excited you are going to feel when you wake up. How you will calm your nerves by heading to the kitchen for your pre-race breakfast and sitting calmly with your thoughts. Think about that feeling in the pit of your stomach that will become more and more defined as you begin your drive to the race. The excitement of the crowd as you begin to do your warm up, the nervous laughter as you stand at the starting line and the relief you will feel as the gun goes off and you head out onto the course on your way to become a marathoner. Think about how you will feel as the miles click off, as the reality sets in and you realize you need to stay outside of your head and enjoy every bit of the day. Think about how you will feel when you start getting tired and the tricks you will use to get past that so you don’t miss a moment. Think about those last six miles when instead of thinking of how many miles you have run, you can begin thinking of how few you have left to go. Think of having that finish line in site, hearing the crowd, and raising your arms in victory because you are a marathon.

Picture all of this in your mind and enjoy it now so that you can enjoy it then.

There is only one first marathon and you are heading into that whirlwind now. Start enjoying it ahead of time, because on race day, it will pass in the blink of an eye.

Good luck Maggi. I know you are going to have a great race. I will be cheering for you.

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About Ann Brennan

Ann Brennan is first and foremost a mom of three beautiful children. She is the managing editor of Beyond Limits Magazine and the creator of Ann’s Running Commentary. In 2012, Ann took Ann’s Running Commentary to new levels – first with a segment on the RunRunLive Podcast, chronicling her journey to her first Ironman and second, with a new channel on YouTube. Currently Ann is working on a non-fiction book series and working hard every day to remind people to get up, get active and get out there.
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6 Responses to Advice For The First Time Marathoner

  1. Maggi says:

    Thank you! I’ve been doing everything you described, and I’m very excited!

  2. Great advice. I also think that you should relish the experience without *too* many expectations. At my first marathon, I envisioned crossing the finish line with tears of accomplishment. That didn’t happen for me…it was more like relief. I was bummed to not have the same experience as other first-timers. What I did have was MY experience. I did have those tears when I finally ran a marathon where I feel I ran to my ability.

    Great post. Good luck, Maggi! Enjoy it!

  3. Ann Brennan says:

    Lisa, I totally agree. That is why it is so important to think through the entire experience. Before my Ironman I was so careful to think of everything that could go wrong and how I wanted to react if it did. When I finally reached a point in the race where I had to walk (two miles from the finish) I knew what my reaction was supposed to be and I responded accordingly. I didn’t want to have to walk those last two miles but I was not going to let those two miles take the 138.6 before them go to waste. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the day. That is the ticket. Thanks so much for stopping by and for the awesome comment.

  4. I love it, great tips. Savor it before, savor it after.

  5. Great advice. I vividly remember my first marathon – all the experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s like the first time for many things. The second, the third.. the tenth time may be better in some ways. But there is only one first time. Enjoy it. Relish it. Remember it.

  6. MILF Runner says:

    I remember my first marathon so well even though it was 15 years ago! I read nothing. My only prep had been running – getting up to a 22 miler 3 weeks or so before the big event. The only advice (and the best advice) I got aside from the “soak it all in” was “don’t go out too fast”. I heeded the first bit of advice but not the second!

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