A reader, Monica, emailed me with this question:
“I just wanted to know if you had any advice for my first marathon in a week? I have run 2 half marathons but this will be my first full...”
Oh yeah, sister. I have some advice for you. Prepare to soil. Or is that just me?
First of all, you are ahead of the game. When I ran my first marathon in 2009, I hadn’t even run a half before. I had no time goal, no watch, goofy clothes, a mixture of random gels safety pinned to my shirt. No mantra, no pace band, no cute clothes, no clue – really – except that I did not want to pass out or die on the course. I didn’t.
I used the shorts as a tent later in the summer. And don’t even ask why I had that ribbon tied around my sleeve. Maybe I was trying to be in the “present.”
Here are some tips that work for me:
Days leading up to the race:
- Limited or no dairy or fiber three days before the race unless you want to make a mess. Or is that just me? If you don’t tend to have GI issues when you run, then don’t sweat it, but I tried to follow this (from Dean’s book 50/50) for both fueling, rest and running:
- Learn about course. There are so many unknowns about race day, so at least this is one thing you can know for certain - the one thing that will not change. When checking out the course, I always visualize myself running the race strong, smiling and at my desired pace.
- Have a time goal? Make it known. I make my goals public. There were times when I really wished I hadn’t done this because I felt like if I didn’t get there, I’d be a failure. But in the end, I think it made me work harder
- Sit on your ass. The week before the race I watched inspirational movies like “The Spirit of the Marathon” and “Race for the Soul.” These help get you motivated and in the right frame of mind.
- Trust your training. You’ve put in your time. Don’t psyche yourself out.
- Check and re-check the weather. Do not be ill-prepared. Go to Goodwill and buy a fancy outfit to throw away. Wash it well in hot water and Tide before wearing. Don’t buy underwear from Goodwill. This was my best throw away ever. I got very attached to it and almost couldn’t toss it:
Day of the race/during:
- Wait on the tunes. If you are going to run with music, try waiting until the half way mark to put your buds in. This will give you something to look forward to and will give you a boost in the later miles.
- Turn off auto pause. If you use a Garmin, be sure it’s not auto pause or your total time running will be off.
- Have faith. Even when things fall apart, it doesn't mean everything's going to hell. Always have hope. NEVER lose sight of your goals. Keep the faith. If you don’t get them this time, try again. They’re yours for the taking.
- Stop worrying about what other people think. Do what’s right for you. Have confidence. Run your own race.
- Be kind to yourself. A time at the finish line is only hours and minutes. It doesn’t define you. You are not “good” because your time is “fast,” and you are not “bad” if you run at the back of the pack.
- Expect highs and lows. This is one I think you learn from experience. Now when I run a marathon and I get frustrated, tired, etc. I know it will pass. I don’t get sucked in.
- When the going gets tough:
- Distract yourself with spectators, participants, and the scenery of the course. Think about your form. Tweak it a bit to take your mind off of pain.
- Stop negative thoughts dead in their tracks and change them to positive affirmations.
- Think about how proud family members and friends will be of you and your accomplishment.
- SHUT UP AND RUN!!
- Have your family/friends there in the later miles. Knowing you will see them will get you through some hard spots.
- Hold your head up. When you cross the finish line, don’t look at your watch or you’ll miss your photo op. Here is a picture of Ken at the RnR Denver Half. Notice how he stops his watch, but looks up for the photo. I married him because he can multi task.
**How about you? What advice can you give Monica or the blog world about running your first marathon? You know you’ve got something up your sleeve.**