I’m not the sportiest of people, I have never been. I didn’t start running until I was in my 30s. I didn’t even own a pair of trainers when I signed up for my first marathon. People laughed and thought I was insane but I ran it 6 months later.
The challenge of running 26.2 miles made me feel sick but also a bit excited. It was not something that I ever believed I could do, but not only did I do it, I enjoyed it (That’s actually a lie, I said ‘never again’, but came round to the idea / was talked into running a second a year later).
In a few months, I’ll be running marathon number eight… and I’ll be honest, it doesn’t get any easier – probably because I know what’s coming.
I’d say the marathon itself is actually the ‘easy’ bit. It is the months of preparation and training that’s tough. It takes as much mental strength, if not more than physical strength. Friends have said they wish they had my focus and determination, as once I set myself a goal – I crack on and do all I can to achieve it. I’m too stubborn to quit – which definitely helps in this endurance malarkey.
Here are my top tips for training for your first marathon:
- Find a training plan and stick to it. There can be an element of flexibility, I tend to look at the week ahead and work out what run I can do which day. I fit them in around work and other commitments but you do need to get that weekly mileage in. Bupa and Asics do some great plans for beginners and intermediates.
- Most plans are 16 weeks long which is enough time to train. If you run regularly already then you’ll already have a good base level of fitness so you can probably get away with 12.
- Depending on your goal you’ll need to run 3-5 times a week with your long run being on a Sunday or the same day of the week as your marathon.
- If you can’t hold a conversation on your long run then you are going too fast.
- Use your training to try different breakfasts so you can work out what you run best on. The same goes for energy gels, use your training runs and see what works best for you. Some gels can upset your stomach so it’s best to have worked out which ones to avoid in advance.
- You’ll never cover the full marathon distance until the day itself. This is normal, most plans will have your longest training run 20 or maybe 22 miles. However, I have run a marathon with my longest run of just 15 miles.
- Don’t forget to taper. This will be shown in your plan. The two weeks before the race you will probably feel like you’re not doing enough. Take this time to rest before the big day.
- Wear something on race day that you’ve trained in that you know won’t rub in all the wrong places. Have your name written nice and big on your top. There’s nothing like a complete stranger shouting your name, to really keeps you going.
- Enjoy the day, and soak up the atmosphere. Have friends and family dotted around the course so it gives you points to focus on.
- I tend to break the course down into smaller parts. First I focus on 0-16 miles because, in my head, that’s the bulk of it done, just ten to go! Then I focus on 16-18, 18-20, 20-22, then I count down each mile to the finish.
- Remember to smile for the event photographers – you paid to do this.
- Cross that finish line feeling awesome – because you are! ❤️