Seven Things to Remember During Your First Marathon

While you’ve done your train­ing and you’ve (hope­ful­ly) pre­pared ade­quate­ly food and water-wise for race day, the actu­al race is full of jit­ters and men­tal bat­tles that might take you by sur­prise. So hang in there, and try to remem­ber these tips after you cross the start­ing line:

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Start out slow
Between the jit­ters and the mass­es of peo­ple sur­round­ing you at the start line, it’s easy to make the mis­take of start­ing out too quick­ly. While it might feel OK for the first cou­ple of miles, it’ll def­i­nite­ly catch up to you. A marathon is a long race, and run­ning a slow­er first half and a faster sec­ond half is the smart way to tack­le the 26.2 miles.

Save your emo­tion for later
In most marathons, there will be awe­some spec­ta­tors cheer­ing you on the entire dis­tance and though giv­ing high fives every time you see fam­i­ly, friends or strangers out there sup­port­ing you might seem like the right thing to do, you’ll need to be care­ful not to exert too much emo­tion­al and men­tal ener­gy too ear­ly in the race—because at mile 18, you might find it a lit­tle hard­er to keep going than at mile 10.

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Break it up
Just the thought of run­ning 26.2 miles is exhaust­ing, so try to break up the race into small­er seg­ments in your head. A marathon is only about 13 and a half 5ks, for instance. Or at mile 20, you only have a 10k to go. What­ev­er works best for you to try to make the end goal seem less daunt­ing will help pre­vent you from hit­ting the wall along the way.

Bat­tle boredom
It’s a long race, not just in dis­tance, but also in time spent run­ning, so chances are you’re going to get bored. If you need music to help keep your mind occu­pied, then lis­ten to it. Or maybe make up some sort of men­tal game involv­ing count­ing run­ners or spot­ting things in the scenery—whatever it takes to keep your mind busy.

Focus on things besides your body
At some point dur­ing the race, things are going to start to hurt. That’s just what’s going to hap­pen. So instead of focus­ing pri­mar­i­ly on how stiff your legs are start­ing to feel or about the blis­ters cur­rent­ly form­ing on the ball of your left foot, pay atten­tion to the spec­ta­tors, the scenery or any­thing besides what’s hap­pen­ing inside your body. Yes, it’s impor­tant to lis­ten to your­self so you don’t get seri­ous­ly injured, but there’s def­i­nite­ly a dif­fer­ence between a real injury and the sore­ness that hap­pens on a long run.

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Don’t for­get to hydrate and eat
Drink water when you need to and have snacks and elec­trolyte mix­es. This kind of race is no easy feat for the body; so don’t expect it to run with­out the necessities.

Psy­che your­self up
Towards the end of the race, you might find some men­tal strug­gles creep­ing through. So start set­ting small mile­stones or even, begin remind­ing your­self how strong you are. Lit­tle mantras, as cheesy as they sound, can absolute­ly be the rea­son you make it through some of the hard­er, maybe lone­li­er, miles. Tell your­self how awe­some you are for even attempt­ing a marathon—and how badass you’re going to feel after­ward when you can tell peo­ple you’ve run one.