So, you’ve finally done it. You’ve gone and plucked up the courage to click ‘submit’ on your online entry. You’ve paid your fee, agreeing to run your first marathon, and worst of all, you’ve told all your friends you’re going to do it.
There is no backing out now – and now the real challenge begins. How on earth do you prepare for something as mind blowingly gruelling as 26.2 miles of hard running?
Well, we’ll be honest – it isn’t going to be easy. It wouldn’t be a marathon if it was. But it is do-able. Here are our tips for marathon first timers.
Get the right training plan
Notice the key word here is the ‘right’ training plan. There are countless ones out there – just search online – but they are for a myriad of different abilities and time scales.
So, think about how long you have to train before the big day. And have a very clear (and most importantly, honest) sense of where you are at in terms of fitness – and then choose your plan accordingly. Also, it’s probably well worth getting yourself checked out by a doctor if you have any doubts about your health.
Never increase your mileage by more than 10%
It’s a simple rule, but an incredibly important one. Keeping any mileage increase to 10% at the most is a great way to balance both pushing yourself to run further with protecting yourself from injury. So, if you run 10 miles one week, run no further than 11 the following week.
Use those rest days!
When you’re really getting into running it can be very tempting to do it all the time. You’re feeling great, and you can see the improvement you’re making. Then along comes one of those boring days with an ‘R’ for ‘Rest’ next to it in your training plan, and you decide that one more little run won’t harm you.
The problem is that those rest days are absolutely crucial – they allow your body to recover, but also to embed some of the fitness that you have been building up while you’re running. Don’t miss them out – they’re there for a reason.
Enjoy the day itself
It sounds ridiculous to say when you’re running well over 20 miles, but do try and enjoy the day. Yes, it will be unbelievably tough, and you are probably going to have more than a few dark moments.
But it is also really important to try soak up the experience of being out there for your first marathon – after all, you may never do it again!
So, while you are out there, look around you. Soak up the adulation of the crowds, high five the kids as you pass, and enjoy the luxury of being able to eat as many jelly babies as you feel like.
You have earned every single last one of them.
Jürg Widmer Probst