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7 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

by Amanda on November 20, 2009
category: Healthy Mom

AmandaMarathon1-300x200 Last Sunday Dawn and I ran the San Antonio Marathon and Half Marathon! Dawn did a great job running her second half marathon. I am so proud of her.  She did fantastic! I completed my first full marathon. You can read more about the details of my marathon at this site. The race was harder than I expected, but I did it! I ran the race 8 months after having my second child. If you have ever wanted to complete 26.2 as a life goal, you can do it!

Here are 7 tips I learned from my marathon training:

1. Train with a group. When I got up to 10 miles in my training I found it difficult to create long routes from my house with water stops. It also gets lonely when you run for more than 2 hours by yourself. I joined a training group at my local Fleet Feet store that ran on Sunday mornings at 6:00 a.m. They had a marked route and water stations every 2 miles. I also loved the community and encouragement of the runners in the group. You can check to see if you have a USA Fit or Team in Training group near you. You can also ask your local running store if they have training group.

2. Learn how to hydrate properly. I once trained for a half marathon and didn’t drink enough water or eat anything to refuel. For water you can carry a water bottle in your hand or use a water belt. After about an hour of running you may feel hungry.  To refuel try different types of GU’s, jelly beans, or chomp blocks while training. I really like the GU gels. The other gel brands don’t taste good to me.

3. Have family and friends that will keep you motivated.
My friends and I kept a running blog together to detail out our struggles and triumphs. Follow other runners on Twitter. Make sure your spouse is on board to encourage you.

4. Spend money on a good pair of socks. One book I read said its like buying popcorn at a movie theater. Just spend the money and then don’t think about it again. A good pair of socks will save your feet from getting raw. I LOVE my balega socks!

roosterandAmanda 5. Make time in your schedule. Amelia’s husband, Jon, said that training becomes like a part time job. It is true! My husband would have to take off early from work to watch the kids so I could my mid-week long runs in. My longest run took over 4 hours to get done. The long runs will take a chunk out of your weekend.

6. Remember why you are running a marathon. At some point while you are running you are going to ask yourself why you are doing this to yourself. You need to have an answer ready or you will talk yourself into a funk while running. My answers to the question were “One, I signed up, because I believed I can do this. Two, I wanted to be able to tell people that I ran a marathon 8 months after having a baby, before I turned 30 in 2 months.” I know its pride, but it kept me motivated!

7. Don’t worry about your time on your first marathon. Almost every runner told me this advice and I didn’t understand it until after I ran my race. At some point in my run I didn’t care about my time, but to finish in one piece. I did have fun greeting my friends and family cheering me on along the way! I am glad I added a few minutes to my time to enjoy my race.

Have you ever ran a marathon? Would you ever want to run one? What about a Half Marathon?

11 Responses to 7 Tips for Running Your First Marathon

  • Comment by Sharon M
    November 20, 2009 @ 9:06 am

    Congratulations on doing the marathon, Amanda! That’s a HUGE accomplishment. Did you see anyone using a CamelBak while running? Just curious if those would be helpful or just weigh you down.

  • Comment by Amanda
    November 20, 2009 @ 9:09 am

    @Sharon – I didn’t see many folks using them, but they may have trained with them. I started next to a young couple that was using them. I asked the girl wearing a CamelBak the same thing. She said it was her first time using one! She said her husband uses one and insisted that she use one.

    My friend trains with one, because she trained by herself and she offered to let me try hers out. If I ever train for a 50K, I may consider using one!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Erica Maier
    November 20, 2009 @ 9:26 am

    I love it! And it reminds me I need to put my closing thoughts on our runner’s blog! None of us have yet, which is hilarious!

    I think for my Austin marathon, I am going to seriously consider the 3:1 interval … Running 3 miles, walking 1 mile, for the entire race. I think with such a hilly course, combined with it being my first full marathon, combined with it likely being cold, that’s probably a smart option. Some of the runners in my group have done this and said it made the 26.2 miles a lot more fun.

    I can’t believe our race weekend has come and gone! Is Daniel still thinking about doing Austin? Are you (the 1/2)?

  • Gravatar November 20, 2009 @ 11:40 am

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I’ve ran 3 full marathons and several half-marathons (I’ve lost count) and greatly enjoy running, however at this point in my life (I have a 4 and 2 yr old and my hubby travels 1/4 of the time) that 1/2 marathons and 10K’s are about as much training as I can fit into my busy schedule.

    Regarding the camelback – I would think that one of those would bounce around, rub and cause friction under your arms for a long run like a marathon. Can I say MAJOR CHAFINFG? I think they are more designed for cycling where there is less bouncing. There are so many water stops along the race route that I wouldn’t worry about carrying that much extra weight around and I would opt instead for something smaller and more light weight like a fuel belt.

  • Gravatar November 20, 2009 @ 11:42 am

    I just want to add that a camel back may be better suited for keeping you hydrated on training runs where there aren’t water stops.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Michele
    November 21, 2009 @ 8:09 am

    Congrats Amanda! I love 1/2 marathons, but can’t seem to find an ounce of desire to do a full even though my two good friends are training for one right now. These are great tips, especially the socks! When I slapped down $20 for a single pair of socks I thought it was crazy, but I can’t live without ‘em now. :)

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Laura
    November 21, 2009 @ 7:02 pm

    Congratulations! I have running a marathon on my list of things to-do in life, but haven’t put anything into action yet. It’s inspiring to hear stories like yours and I hope one day that I can get to where you are. Thanks for sharing your advice!

  • Gravatar November 21, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

    Training for a marathon is one of the best things I have ever done! I didn’t actually run the marathon but training for it was all I needed.

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Steve
    November 24, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

    Amanda great tips for first time marathoners, heck multi-time marathoners for that matter. As a “Sock Geek” I appreciate your advice on the importance of a quality running sock. When you consider the micro climate in a running shoe you have heat, friction and mositure. Let any or all of these variables get out-of-hand and the result is blisters, calluses, and hot spots. A premium running sock will manage mositure through the use of various hydrophobic materials, reduce friction and hot spots through improved fit and low coefficient friction fabrics. Also, they will improve the fit of your running shoes, and as you have learned with your Balega’s they are darn comfortable. If anyone would like to checkout what is currently available in running sock styles and technology they can drop by my running sock website, http://www.sockgeek.com. If anyone has any specific questions I can be reached directly through the Sock Geek website as well. Cheers and good running!

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Katie
    December 8, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

    Hi Amanda, I stumbled on your post and I would like to say “Thanks for the great tips!” I am running my first half-marathon this weekend (White Rock in Dallas) and I am beginning to get a little freaked out – AH! But, I enjoyed your tips and I look forward to my race and proving to myself that I can do it! -Katie

  • Gravatar
    Comment by Susan
    December 15, 2009 @ 8:50 am

    YEAH!!! I am a runner and have ran 3 halfs…..always working for a full, but tend to get injured on the way. ARG! I will keep your tips in mind and hopefully complete my first full soon. It is such a treat for me to run!!!

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