Running is a fun recreational activity most suited to a wide range of athletes ranging from newbies to the sporty veterans.
In the case of a beginner runner, running your maiden marathon may seem like an intimidating affair. And it certainly is one. But with proper planning and preparation, you’ll be able to complete your first real foray into the world of marathoning.
From your pre-marathon preparation to pre-marathon research, there are plenty of things to do (and not to do) when it comes to joining your first official run.
This is fairly obvious and straightforward. You’ll need to register for a marathon if you want to join one. This is particularly important as there are myriads of marathons held throughout the year. The key to success is to then do your research and register for the one you think you can complete.
The Training Plan
If you’ve been on the training grind for a while, running your first marathon shouldn’t be much of an issue. But if you aren’t, then you ought to first take a step back and evaluate your fitness levels.
Coming up and sticking with an appropriate training plan will be the blueprint to your first marathon’s success. You definitely won’t be able to run the whole distance right out of the gate, so it’s important to get a plan that will aid you in developing stronger stamina over time.
Fuelling Your Body And Recovery
Equally as important as your training is your food intake during your training, as well as before and after the run.
Try to avoid overeating. And carb-loading is a huge no-no. Similarly, also try to avoid undereating as your body needs fuel to keep going. The key is to maintain a balanced diet which comprises just enough calories to keep your body revving.
Oats, bread, tortillas, waffles, bagels, and yoghurts are some options that are easy to digest. Just be sure to avoid overstuffing yourself with food the night before your first marathon.
Your Mental State And Organizing Yourself
Aside from food intake and training, organizing yourself (and your mental state) is vital to ensure that you have what it takes to complete the race — mentally.
To make it easier for you, here is a simple checklist of potentially essential items you may need before embarking on your first (or any marathon, really) race:
- Race bibs and safety pins
- Race timing chip (if any)
- Running outfit including dry shirts, socks, extra socks, hats, shoelaces, and shoes
- Wristwatch/GPS watch/fitness watch
- Anti-chafing products like Vaseline
- Blister care products
- Race fuel such as energy gels
The Day Of Your First Marathon
Come race day, you should endeavour to arise earlier than necessary to get a good spot at the starting point. At this point, you should’ve already scouted the route you’re going to take, and if not, do so with the time buffer you’ve given yourself.
Otherwise, make sure to stretch lightly before the race to loosen yourself up. Though, you should make sure not to overburden yourself and burn yourself out before the starting whistle.
Once you’re ready, run to your heart’s content!
After weeks of preparation, you’ve finally finished your race. Congratulations!
But if you did not complete it, no worries. It isn’t the end of the world, and you can do better next time.
However, finishing (or not) the race doesn’t mean you may just throw everything you’ve learnt up to this point out the window. Far from it, your marathon preparation extends to beyond the finish line!
After-run care is always welcomed to keep the inevitable delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMs) at bay. And dehydrating with good old H2O will do wonders for your exhausted body. Oh, and it’s best to also eat something light to replenish your diminishing glycogen levels after the race!