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10 things to know before you run your first marathon

Is running a marathon on your bucket list? Do you feel like challenging yourself? Or do you just love to run and you think it sounds fun? Either way, running your first marathon can be a little intimidating. I have put together some training tips, must have gear, and tips on how to stay fueled during your 26.2 mile race.

Get the Right Gear

  • Running Shoes

If you have never had your running gait analyzed (the way your foot strikes the ground), I highly suggested getting this done. We all have a unique steps and your running shoes should be right for you. Also remember that running shoes typically last for 300-500 miles of running.

  • Moisture Wicking Clothes and Socks

It is important that your clothes are made of a moisture wicking fabric. This fabric is designed to pull moisture away from your body and allows your body to cool off more quickly through sweat evaporation.

  • Distance Tracking Device

When you are training for a marathon you will need some way to measure your distance runs. This could be done a number of ways (Ex. phone app, GPS watch, GEO distance, etc.). Measuring your runs will allow you to achieve specific training goals and boost your confidence on race day.

marathon running

Training Tips for Success

  • Duration and Base

Your training plan duration is dependent on your specific race goals and your starting performance level. Most training plans will range from 8-22 weeks long. To begin training you need to be able to at least run 3 miles with ease and be up to running 12-20 miles a week. Throughout your training you will build up to 30-100 miles a week.

Learn more about cross-training from Boone Barrow, MD, a primary care and sports medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – College Station in the video below.

“Explore."
  • Strength, Speed, and Rest

It is very important for all runners to incorporate strength training into their week at least two times. This helps with strength endurance and injury prevention. I also suggest that you incorporate at least one day of speed work. This could include interval training and tempo runs to increase your aerobic capacity. And finally, rest. Rest is very important for muscle recovery. Make sure to add rest days or light days into your training.

rest

As you’re training for a marathon, you may experience muscle aches or soreness.

“It’s not unusual to have some aches and pains as you’re training, or even on the day of the marathon or half-marathon,” Dr. Barrow said. “These are unavoidable and shouldn’t be unexpected.”

Learn about which anti-inflammatories are safe to take while training for your marathon in this video.

Fueling up Your Energy

The day of the race can be a stressful time.

“You want to try to do as many things as you normally do them, so that there’s one less stress to think about in the morning,” Dr. Barrow said.

  • Hydration

You need to aim to rehydrate around 70-100% of sweat loss. This means that if you are sweating more (on a hot day or tough workout) you will need to drink more fluids. You can always gage your sweat loss by weighing yourself before and after a practice run.

  • Pre-Run Fuel

If you are eating a meal before your race, make sure to allow 3-4 hours for your body to properly digest it. Snacks take about 1-2 hours to digest and you want to aim for a protein and carbohydrate snack combination.

running food

  • Mid-Run Fuel

You goal during mid-run fueling is to refill your glycogen stores (fuel our body converts to energy). Every 30-45 minutes you need to consume 30-60g of carbohydrates. However, if you are not running more than 60 minutes it is not necessary to refill your glycogen storage until after your race.

  • Post-Run Fuel

After you run, you will want to replenish with carbohydrates, protein, and electrolytes within 15-60 minutes. However, you need to be careful not to overeat.

The Biggest Mistake Made by All Runners…

  • Starting too fast!

The biggest mistake runners make is starting too fast. I’m sad to say I am guilty of this a time or two. When the race starts you have endorphins running through your body that give you an invincible feeling which gives you the urge to take of running faster than normal. The problem with this urge during the start of a marathon is that it will run out and you will hit a wall. And nobody wants that.

About the author

Holly Greer
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Holly is a Wellness Coordinator in the Health and Wellness Department at Baylor Scott and White. She has over 3 years of experience in corporate wellness and health coaching. Holly has a Bachelor's of Science degree in Kinesiology from Tarleton State University, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Weight Loss Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

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10 things to know before you run your first marathon