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Sports Medicine | Sep 24, 2018

Planning your First Marathon? Here are 10 Things to Remember

Running your first marathon can be in equal parts exciting, liberating, exhilarating – and just a tiny bit terrifying. You’ll be pushing your physical, mental, and emotional limits. Chances are once you’re done (regardless of your final time) you’ll find that marathons are like potato chips – you can’t run just one!

Here are ten things to keep in mind when leading up to your first marathon:

1: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Marathons are more about pacing than they are about speed. Breaking away from the pack at the end is far more rewarding than at the start. Remember, seconds gained in the first half can turn into minutes lost in the second.

2: Build up Gradually

A long run of 20-25 miles is ideal but start at the beginning and do five miles a day for a week (with two days off to recover), then seven and a half, then ten, and work your way slowly up to your goal over the period of a couple of months.

3: The Brick Method

If you don’t have time to build up gradually, try doing two “brick” sessions each week. Run long on two sequential days, so that the total is a full marathon or more, so your body and mind get acquainted with the idea of running while tired. Then take two days off before doing it again.

4: Mix it Up

Mixing up your daily training with different routes, speeds, and slow vs. fast runs can help you stay interested and prevent boredom from setting in.

5: Break in Your Shoes

Rotate pairs of shoes, and break in your race-day shoes by wearing them on days you run at or faster than marathon speed and on similar terrain. You want your race-day shoes to be broken in but still relatively fresh. Don’t forget to try different kinds of socks before the race as well.

6: Hydrate Your Way

Find out what electrolyte drink they’ll have on the course, and make sure it works for you! If not, have your own ready to go, and don’t forget to carry emergency water and salt tabs.

7: Be Kind to Your Body

A healthy diet, smart training routine, cross training, a strong core, and watching for early signs of soreness or a cold and addressing them promptly can help you get your body “marathon fit!”

8: Dress Down

A common rookie mistake is to pile on a heavy sweatshirt or jacket on race morning. Instead, consider a hat, arm warmers, and gloves – with maybe an old hooded top that you won’t mind discarding along the way to avoid overheating.

9: Taper Off

At least ten days before the big event, slowly decrease the length and intensity of your training so you can be well rested and in top form for your first marathon.

10: Plan Ahead

Having everything planned and packed in advance for the big day can help you arrive at the starting line with a clear head and a ready body.

Have fun running your first marathon! Even if you don’t finish or can’t quite hit the time you hoped for, your first marathon is just that – your first. Hopefully you’ll have many more in your future! If you need advice from a medical professional before beginning your training, call Strasburger Orthopaedics for an appointment. Dr. Strasburger can help you develop a sensible marathon training plan that safeguards your fitness and health while helping you expand your limits.