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With the end of the year comes goal-setting for the year ahead. This year, I ran my first marathon. It was such an exhilarating experience that I would recommend to anyone considering it, commit to run one. If running a marathon is on your list for 2018, listen up to the following tips so you can make the best of the experience.  

First, let’s get on the same page right from the start. 

1.  It’s going to be hard.  

You’re running a freaking marathon. A distance that would take you a half-hour if you were driving 55 miles per hour on a highway, except you’re traveling on foot. Assuming you’re training for your first, expect to challenge your body and mind like never before. This is not meant to scare you or plant negative thoughts in your mind, but just understand you have a hard, long journey ahead. However, crossing that finish line makes it all worth it in the end. 

2.  It’s going to take a lot of your time.  

Expect training to pretty much take over your weekends. When training ramps up, you will be running more than a half-marathon each week. On top of that, you’ll have three to five other runs during the week. Oh, and you need to prepare for those long runs just as you would marathon day so that means your Friday nights will have a curfew and you’ll need to pay attention to your diet the night before. 

Okay, we got the cold, hard truth out of the way. Onto the good stuff. 

3.  Before you even start training, make sure you have good running shoes. 

Physically go into a running store and have them take a look at your running form to recommend a shoe that works best for YOU. Just go with the shoes they recommend and don’t get so caught up with colors/look because all running shoes are crazy colored. You should also switch out your shoes every 300-500 miles (around 3 months during marathon training). If you feel knee or shin pain when you run, your shoes are likely to blame. 

4.  Say hello to energy gels.  

Energy gels will be your friend, especially for your long runs. There are SO many different brands to try and each will affect you differently. Go to a running or sporting goods store and picking up a few of each kind to try during training. Remember for race day… NOTHING NEW. Stick to what your body told you it liked in your training… even if you’re getting freebies along the course. 

5.  And say goodbye to your toenails. 

Believe it or not, it is actually a “thing” to lose your toenails. Kind of gross, but it will likely happen to you. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it’s gross and weird. The only way to try and prevent this from happening is to buy shoes one size bigger than usual so your feet have extra room when they swell up during those long runs. Forget the pedicures too. 

6.  Find a running buddy or group. 

You’re going to be spending a lot of time hitting the pavement, you might as well find someone to do it with you. Join a training group. Not only will a training group give you people to run with, you’ll get a training plan, pre-planned routes for those long runs, and sometimes you’ll even have fitness professionals advise on nutrition, stretching and other things.  

7.  It’s about the distance, not the time. 

Training is just that… TRAINING. For your long runs, you should typically run them 1-2 minutes slower than your intended race pace. You should be able to hold a conversation without getting out of breath. Don’t kill yourself throughout training, especially if you’re training in the heat of the summer. Focus on tackling the distance and don’t get so hung up on your time. 

8.  Hydration will make or break you.  

When you’re running such long distances, you’re going to be sweating A LOT. Make sure you’re drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily, especially the few days leading up to long runs. Hydration is crucial while running too. For training, get a hydration pack to make sure you have accessible water.  

9.  Learn to control your breathing. 

Your breathing controls your pace. You should be inhaling for three steps and exhaling for two steps. It takes some practice to get down, but you can learn how to keep a steady pace just by listening to your breathing patterns. You’re also going to need to control it if you want to run for 26 miles. 

10.  Not all runs are created equal. 

You will have on and off days. You’ll have days where running is the last thing you want to do. You’ll also have days where you’ll be reminded why you’re doing this. What’s most important here is to not beat yourself up if you have a bad run. It’s called training for a reason; you are not going to be perfect. 

11.Listen to your body and take care of yourself.  

Listen to your body in every way possible. Stop for more water if you run out. Don’t skip stretching after each run. If you feel pain, take it easy. Seek medical attention for any pain that doesn’t go away after a few days. If you’re going to do this, treat your body as if it is gold. 

12.  Most importantly, remember why you started.  

As you heard earlier, it’s going to be hard. Training for and participating in a marathon will test you harder mentally than ever before. Make sure you clearly know whyyou’re putting yourself through this in the first place. Your why will get you to the starting line and through the finish of the race.  

Participating in a marathon is something only a small percentage of people ever do in their lifetime. It will be hard, but it will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Just remember to have fun, enjoy every step of the way, and take it all in on race day. Oh… and hit that darn wall before it hits you! 



Author: Ashton Maseth
Author Bio: Starting her fitness journey in college, Ashton developed such a passion for focusing on overall wellness and connecting with like-minded women. She is driven to inspire others to live a balanced life by sharing (sometimes hard) lessons learned throughout her fitness journey. Professionally, Ashton works as a Real Estate Agent in Maryland while also leading monthly ‘BBG’ work outs in Baltimore. In her spare time, you can catch Ashton blogging, golfing, or eating (ice cream).
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