What are the best ways to run your first marathon?
The runner I respect the most, outside of my wife, is Emil Zatopek.
Emil was a Soldier in the Czeck Army who had to undergo a great deal of hardship.
He is the only three-time Olympic champion in three distance events.
The 5000m, 10,000m and the marathon.
An incredible feat that no one has duplicated since.
The military isn’t the easiest occupation to have when trying to run well.
It takes time and an extraordinary amount of will to work through the demands of a military work week while working toward running goals.
Zatopek was quoted as saying,
We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.
Regardless what your occupation, the truth is, you can prepare to run your first marathon.
You may be a sprinter or never run a step in your life. The key is to be patient and give the marathon time to grow on you.
I will be sharing 10 tips that can help you overcome concerns that you may have about running a marathon.
We all have strengths and can give back. It could be fitness advice, plans and operations advice, tactical experience or just motivation that others around us can use.
Running is what I have done since I was a teenager. It is what I have dreamt and thought about for every second of the day for the past 27+ years.
I want to see you feel the effects of the healthy benefits running long distance can provide in your own life.
Furthermore, I began running marathons in 2002. My first marathon was the 2002 New York City marathon.
I had just run a then-PR of 53.21 at the 2002 Army Ten-Miler and was sitting on an athletic high.
Think Long-Term When Running Your First Marathon
My best time previously was the 55.23 I ran in college.
The email read,
Would you like to be a part of an Armed Forces Marathon team competing for Lung Cancer Research at the New York City Marathon? You will be starting in last place with aims of passing as many people as possible. $1 will be donated for every person you pass. Would you like to participate?
It was a blessing because running marathons was never something I thought I was capable of doing. It took one person and a little opportunity to get involved in a sport I never thought I was be involved in.
Marathons are about tenacity as much as talent – John Bigham
I don’t think people realize how easy running can be if the willingness to run consistently is placed within their schedule.
All things seem hard at first but the more practice is put into the activity the more routine it gets. Running is no different.
I hope the following ten tips will get you out the door preparing to run your first marathon
Believe In Yourself
You need nothing more to run the 26.2 mile distance. It doesn’t matter if your overweight, not an ‘athlete’ or running your first marathon.
The marathon is a running event every person can complete regardless if they think so or not.
You can’t live your life listening to criticisms and negative news.
Imagine participating in a sport that makes you feel better.
It is a fact that so many miss out on because they think running is too hard and not fun. Of course, it is not fun if you are not prepared to run one.
Be patient, let it come to you. I promise you it will get easier.
You will lose weight and running will become automatic.
Life will be more enjoyable and you’ll see attempting to run a marathon as a target goal that you will have no problem achieving.
Motivation helps us get through the tough parts of life and if you ever need my help don’t hesitate to ask.
Think in Smaller Segments Running Your First Marathon
Think of the marathon in segments.
In addition, think of it more in the lines of many little races linked within a larger one.
My friend, 2.06 marathoner and Olympian, Ryan Hall, puts it like this,
I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road or the mile I’m on right now. In addition, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.
You have to start each day with the initiative to just get out the door to run a few miles.
In addition to that, you don’t have to run everyday, nor do you have to be running high mileage to run a marathon.
Running 100 mile weeks is not needed to run your first marathon.
Make The Commitment
Start out running 2 days a week and build yourself up to running 4 days a week. Think of this as a long-term process and you will succeed.
Are you a believer in delayed gratification?
We live in a results-oriented culture here in the United States. Our philosophy doesn’t relate well in other cultures, where patience and long-term thought is the rule.
Running a marathon and especially, finishing, takes a patient individual.
Focus on You
You don’t have the build. You have thought about doing it but it is too far to run.
Think of the strengths you have. What passion do you have? What are you good at?
The trick is to study what successful people do and simply duplicate their work habits.
Take each day and patiently give your utmost to yourself.
I respect anyone who simply tries. I don’t expect my readers to want to train at the level I compete at.
Your willingness simply to try is far more impressive than fast times and should be respected equally.
I see an older heavy set gentleman (probably 60 years old) who is out running at 5.30am. I think of that man’s initiative, not the world-class athletes I have trained and lived with.
To see a beginner out trying to do something, which takes a great deal of initiative says a lot. It is much harder for others.
Be patient with yourself and give yourself a chance.
Hydrate Well and Often
Probably the second most important tip I can give is hydrating well and often. I have made countless mistakes in not intaking the proper fluid in my marathons. Furthermore, I waited until I was thirsty to start drinking and this is far too late.
Running 26.2 miles is something you can do but your body has to be hydrated. Why?Your muscle function will not be working at full capacity and you will quickly succumb to fatigue.
Grab a couple cups at the aid stations as you pass by them. Stop and walk briefly and take the time to drink down the entire content of the cups. Your body will thank you for it as you enter in the later stages of the race.
Don’t worry about getting a cramp. I have done this many times and never experienced it.
We do this all the time, worrying about things that never happen. The quickest way to finishing a marathon is drinking properly.
Increase Mileage Slowly
Don’t be in a rush. If your first marathon is 3 months down the road then take your time in building your fitness. There should never be a rush. You really only need 10-12 weeks to fully prepare to run a marathon
If you have never run a marathon think long-term.
Start running your first week with only 10 miles. Run 2 miles a day, 5 days out of the week and the other two days just stretch.
It can be that simple and build your mileage from that. Expect to be sore early on but don’t let it hinder your confidence.
Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and you’ll soon be running 10 mile runs without a problem. I don’t care if your overweight or don’t consider yourself a runner. You can do this.
Enjoy The Experience
Nothing great was ever done without that individual enjoying what they’re doing. I know my strengths as a runner and athlete. It is what God gave me the ability do well.
I see others in the military enjoy doing things that I see as completely mad. Who would want to spend 10 days out doing military field exercises or stay up until 2am in the morning doing military plans and operations?
Someone who has learned to love and enjoy what they do. I relate to the people I work around in the same way as it relates to my own expertise with fitness and running. You have to have the joy or find joy in uncomfortable activities if you are to excel.
Do not get weighed down by times you want to run, feelings of uncertainty that running a marathon is just too difficult.
You can learn to like and eventually enjoy the sport but you have to be patient and take your time.
Listen To Music
I do not wear an iPod when I race but I do wear one during my easy and long runs. Furthermore, I have found running with some music to be extremely helpful on days where my own motivation is running low.
Lastly, I have done runs as early as 2am and having music playing has got me over the hump of rising so early.
The majority of marathons around the world permit runners to wear their iPods which is a great way to get you to the finish line of your first marathon. I am certainly an advocate of listening to music as you run.
Some of the worlds fastest marathoners wear headphones in training. You may never see them wear them in a race but they do wear them in training.
They are a great way for runners to get through the tough mental blocks that pop up from time to time during the duration of a marathon.
This may be what you need as you’re running in your first marathon. Food for thought.
Never Underestimate Your Ability
You came to the right site and post because I will not allow or permit anyone visiting this site to underestimate their ability.
From today on, running a marathon is a goal you will reach. You will exceed your expectations. Running a marathon wasn’t my goal until 2002.
I had run a 1.13.41 half-marathon in a time trial my coach had set up. I needed to run 1:15:00 or faster to qualify for the NAIA National Marathon Championships.
Patience is everything
I saw running the then-Olympic Trials Marathon standard time of 2.22.00 as humanely possible. That being said, I was unsure I was capable of putting not only one 1.11.00 half-marathon let alone two back-to-back half’s to qualify together.
We doubt ourselves at times. I would go on to run 1:07:06 for the half-marathon and 2:19:35 for the marathon.
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think. – Tim Ferris
I hope you can take away some of this advise and use it in your preparation to run your first marathon. I look forward to hearing your story.
You have all the capability in the world to run and finish your very first 26.2 mile . Take your time, enjoy the experience and don’t be afraid of the distance!
Think of it as a 26.2 mile journey that countless supporters out along the course will help you get through.
Volunteers out on the marathon course are some of the most caring and considerate people you will ever meet. Embrace their support and get to the finish line as the champion you already are.
Make sure to subscribe to the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel. I create new videos each week to help runners such as yourself get to the next level. There are also running courses and monthly, online coaching available here at rundreamachieve. You can view these options by looking at the navigation menu at the top of this website. I hope this post on how to run your first marathon has been helpful to you