Preparing for Race Day: Six Tips for First-Time Marathon Runners

Marathons pic
Marathons
Image: halfmarathons.net

Timothy “Tim” Shields serves as a program and portfolio manager for UBS in Chicago, Illinois, where he provides management for complex long-term process and technology projects. Outside his work with UBS, Tim Shields enjoys running and participating in marathons and he previously provided an anecdote about his first experiences for a 2003 book on marathon running.

The following list includes tips for individuals participating in their first marathon.

1. Taper training. Start slow when training, and gradually increase your running distance. Follow a careful training schedule until the week before the race. Slowly decrease your mileage in the last one or two weeks before the race, and use this time to recuperate and rest your body.

2. Wear appropriate running gear. Invest in a pair of comfortable running shoes and socks for the race, and wear them during at last one 10-mile training run at marathon pace to break them in. You can also benefit from wearing real running clothes in place of casual, everyday clothing.

3. Stay hydrated. Remember to stay hydrated during training and the race itself. If you plan on consuming athletic or energy drinks during the race, drink them while training, as well. Hydrate well before the race, and don’t wait until you feel thirsty.

4. Warm up. Perform complete warm-ups before each run, especially on race day. Recommended warm-ups include about 10 minutes of light jogging followed by a series of dynamic stretches.

5. Pace yourself. Pace yourself during the race, and focus on finishing it rather than your speed or run time. Run at a pace that feels most comfortable and conserves energy without overexerting yourself.

6. Find your motivation. Identify a source of motivation for yourself to focus on during the rough patches of the race. You can dedicate each mile to a cause or person, create a list of mantras, listen to your favorite songs, or station friends and family along different points of the route to cheer you on. Setting up a reward for yourself for finishing can also help.