The Casual Runner

Top 10: First Marathon Need-To-Knows

So, you’ve decided to make the commitment and run your first marathon? Or, well, at least you are thinking about doing so. The Casual Runner Team put our collective experience together to bring you these Top 10 Need-To-Knows for you as you are setting out to run your first marathon.

Reserve - Mike - 2014 Pitt Half Race Review Pic I10) Running marathons is HARD. As in very hard. Do not assume that just because a marathon is twice the distance of a half marathon that it will be twice as hard, its actually much more difficult than that. The higher miles add heightened challenges in terms of physical and mental endurance, risk of injury, recovery, nutrition, and hydration. But, if running marathons were easy, everyone would do it. So embrace and respect the challenge, it will make your accomplishment that much more rewarding.

9) Running marathons is not for everyone. Roughly half of the Casual Runner Team are marathon veterans and the other half have zero interest in ever running one. Be honest with yourself, is this something you really want to do? If it is, commit yourself to the experience and enjoy it. If you aren’t certain that you want to do it, you may not have the requisite commitment to train in a way that will empower you to succeed. So make sure you are taking on the commitment with the right frame of mind.

IMG_84838) Be prepared for long training runs. When it comes to marathon training, while you will have some short runs, you have to make time to for some long runs. We aren’t talking about squeezing in a few miles before or after work or while running the kids to baseball practice, we are talking about committing several hours to getting out and do nothing but running. So plan your schedule accordingly.

7) Its OK to be a little selfish. But in a nice way! We’ve found that marathon training schedules can be all-consuming. Its not only the time you commit to your training runs (see #8), but you will also need more time to rest and recover. Communicate this with your family and significant other throughout the training process, while they may not always understand, you still need to try to communicate with them that you will need to make some seemingly selfish decisions (and sacrifices such as going out on weekend nights) to accommodate your training plan.

IMG_34096) You need your rest. Casual Runners who are comfortable with their usual training distances – whether it be 3, 6, 9 miles or more – can hop out of the post-run shower and continue on with their day. Running longer training and race decisions will exhaust you in ways you don’t expect. Don’t fight it, this is your body’s way of saying to take it easy and rest up so your body can recover. Plan your schedule accordingly to increase your chances of success.

Mike has this to share: While training for my first marathon, I ran my first ever 20 mile training run on a Sunday morning. I finished, showered, and then headed straight for the couch to watch the Browns game at 1pm. I watched the entire game, and then the 4pm game, and then the Sunday night football game. It was halftime of this last time before I got off the couch for anything other than a bathroom or snack break. 

5) Become a hydrator. If you are one of those people who go out for runs without carrying water or sports drink, stop that habit now. Go out and buy yourself a hydration belt or backpack. Hydration is always important when running – regardless of the air temperatures – and is even more so when you get into the higher miles run. So bring your fluids with you and drink them.

IMG_28944) A little snack goes a long way. Have you ever gone for a 3-4 hour car ride and not reached for a snack? Now, think about running for that long…your body is going to be craving some calories. Make sure you grab a light snack before you head out for your long runs and bring a little something along to eat along the way. Gels, gummies, even peanut butter works well for some quick energy to fuel your run.

3) Pick the right race for you. We’ve all endured races that failed to meet our expectations in terms of quality or course profile. Over 3.1, 6.2, or even 13.1 miles, its not the end of the world. Now, imagine doing that over several hours and 26.2 miles. Do your homework and pick the right race for you to increase the chances both that you will succeed and enjoy your experience. Choosing the right event for you and your interests for your first marathon can make all of the difference.

2) Training is everything. Do not expect to show up and toe the line at a marathon without having put in the time and having done the training. If you do, the 26.2 miles will conquer you. But, if you put in the time, did the work, trust in your training and the race will take care of itself.

IMG_83031) Have fun! After all, Casual Running (even over 26.2 miles!) is supposed to be fun. Take the pressure off of yourself and put yourself in the right frame of mind to enjoy the experience. At the end of 26.2 miles, no matter what, you will be a marathoner, and no one can take that away from you.

If you have any questions that the CR Team can answer, let us know, we’re here to help. Best of luck to you, enjoy your marathon adventure!

Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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Enjoy the freedom of going wherever your feet, imagination, & determination take you!

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