10-Tips to Conquer Your First Marathon
Are you training for your first marathon? Have no fear. Our Bear Jonny Mellor has a few tips and tricks to help you!
1. Have your kit prepared
The day before the race, do a final kit check, pin your number to your vest and make sure you’ve not forgotten anything you might need on race day. I like to make notes on my phone the week before the marathon to make sure I’m prepared. This can be as basic as you want and include a kit check, times you plan on waking up, eating and travelling to the race. I also find it helpful to write down my goals one last time and any process-orientated goals throughout the race.
2. Make a Plan
Make a plan to meet friends and family after the race. The finish line is often very congested, and not everyone likes to run with a phone so arrange to meet loved ones at a set place after the marathon to celebrate the occasion.
3. Get plenty of sleep days leading up to the race
Wake up in plenty of time on race day to give yourself sufficient time to go to the bathroom, eat and get to the start line, so you’re not rushing. Don’t worry if you don’t sleep well the night before the race; this is very normal! Try and make sure you get some extra sleep in the days leading up to the race to compensate for any lost sleep on the eve of the marathon. Once you wake up, you’ll be high on adrenaline and excitement, so any lost sleep the night before won’t have an impact on your performance.
Read more about Tapering here.
4. Go with what you know
Don’t wear anything new in the marathon. This includes trainers and a kit. While it might be tempting to wear a brand new pair of trainers for the race, this is a big mistake to avoid, resulting in a painful experience with blisters and chafing! Instead, try breaking new trainers in even if they are the same as your old pair for a couple of weeks before racing in them. I like to do a final dress rehearsal two weeks out, including running in the kit and trainers I plan to wear on race morning.
5. Train your food
The same goes for food. The final week before the marathon isn’t the time to change your diet. Instead, eat foods that you know are good for your stomach. If you’re travelling to the race, I’d recommend booking a restaurant you’re comfortable with before setting off as lot’s of the ‘marathon friendly’ restaurants can be busy on the eve of the marathon. Another tip is porridge pots if you’re used to training with porridge. Not all hotels provide porridge, and sometimes you have to order, which takes longer. Having a porridge pot in your bag is a quick and easy way to stick to your tried and trusted pre-run training meal, and often you can make it from the comfort of your room without having to queue at breakfast.
6. Remember your goal!
Based on your training, you will likely have a target time or pace in mind. You must stick to it and run well within yourself for the first half. It is easy to get carried away by the adrenaline from the crowds and hearing your family and friends on the road, so be smart!
7. Remain positive
Tough patches are inevitable in a marathon. They may come earlier than you think, so it’s good to think about how you will overcome them with positive self-talk and reminding yourself of all the hard work and training you have put in. If you have done the work, there is no need to panic, so simply slow down and allow it to pass.
8. Break it down
The overall distance can be daunting so break it down with process goals. They can be landmarks along with the way or distance markers, e.g. every 5km, where you can treat yourself to your favourite fuel that you are carrying or the drink stations along the course.
9. Fuel little and often
If you have eaten and hydrated well in the 48hrs before, your glycogen stores will be optimised, but you will still need to drink and fuel along the way. Try to sip at drinks at regular intervals and take on some fuel either in the form of a sports drink or gel/sweets at least once every hour.
Read my blog about fueling for your marathon here
10. Be proud of yourself!
Make sure you enjoy it! We all know the marathon is challenging, whether you are a seasoned pro or a beginner. However, you can still enjoy it by soaking in the incredible atmosphere along the way and sharing the journey with fellow competitors out on the road. So smile when you start to suffer….if it works for World Marathon Record Holder Eliud Kipchoge, it is worth trying!
Head over to JM Coaching for more training advice and a range of training plans.