Crush Your First Marathon | Marathon Training Tips

26.2 Miles.

Everyone says you’ll never forget your first Marathon!

When I ran my first Marathon, my first goal was to finish. My second goal was to run a #sub4 hour marathon.

I faced an unexpected problem by hitting a wall at mile 18 and dealt with it.

Remember: it’s not about making a plan and executing it to perfection; it’s about facing adversity and dealing with it!

The 2015 NYC Marathon was my first Marathon. The weather was cold. I had zero ideas how to fuel for the race correctly and had a very loose training cycle. My long runs consisted of three consecutive self-coached unofficial ultra marathons around Manhattan’s parameter.

In my previous career working in digital ad tech, I spent my three last Saturdays before transitioning careers running my 30-mile ultra-marathons around NYC. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not!

I wanted to challenge myself both mentally and physically. Putting myself to the challenge and completing it shaped my aerobic fitness. I remember thinking that if I could run 30 miles three times with my own two feet, I could do a lot more than I’m doing now. And the worst-case scenario? I have setbacks along the way and pick myself back up, the same way I would during the last third of each of those 30 mile runs. I kept moving forward. Isn’t that how life’s supposed to work anyway? We move forward!

The first 17 miles were perfect. I was slowly easing into my paces and finding my groove with the crowds cheering. It was bliss. But somewhere between miles 18-20, I hit a WALL.

Can you relate?

My hips were aching, I had tightness in my core and lower back – I knew this race might be looking different than planned. I kept pep-talking myself and remaining positive. I felt like Thomas the Train saying out LOUD, “I think I can, I think I can,” turning those words into “I KNOW I can!”

Seeing my family after the 20-mile marker boosted my spirits and motivation to get to the 26.2-mile marker, even if I had to walk! And I did walk for 0.5 miles. I mentally shifted and kept going.

There is no sugar coating it; by 20 miles, it was a grind, and it was pain.

My mental game turned into a mental battle. But, I kept saying to myself, get to the finish line. YES, WE CAN!

Thank you to the Grandmother who tapped me on the shoulder at Mile 23 while passing me and saying, “70 years young, and we’re still going. You’ve got this!” My heart filled back up because that runner gave me the boost I needed to keep going.

Crossing that finish line is so hard to explain…a mixture of pride, fulfillment, confidence, joy, relief, excitement, complete and utter exhaustion, and a heart so in love with running!

I had no Garmin to stop. I had no idea what my finish time was at the time, but I didn’t care.

Plan A was to finish. Plan B was #sub4 anything, and I achieved both. I cried. I smiled. And I caught the marathon bug, running three sequential marathons one year after that.

I’ll be riding that first Marathon high for the rest of my life.

Specific runs are imperative while training for your first Marathon.

There is SO much information on the internet that it can get overwhelming quickly. So, let’s make it simple for you!

Five staples to include in your Marathon training program:

1) Create a structured 6-8 month program to follow with a variety of runs, recovery, and workouts

2) Incorporate a higher volume of slower and longer runs

3) Maintain proper nutrition around and during your runs! Indulge in carbs and fats 2-weeks before your first Marathon! You need carbs for fuel to help you run further!

4) Get consistent sleep. 8-9 hours a night! And maybe even sneak a 15-minute power nap or two, work permitting! Full disclosure: I mainly work at my desk in my home office, too, while not out on the roads running on them. Literally!

5) A cheerleading squad to help lift you when you mentally need it the most or a run coach!

Once you have these staples in place, you can personalize your running program in a way that works for you!

35 Marathon mantras to help YOU keep going while running your next race:

1) One step at a time!

2) Stay in the mile you’re in.

3) Nail your pace and nail your race.

4) Focus on the good.

5) Yes, I CAN!

6) Keep on going!

7) I am going to feel so freakin’ good at the end!

8) Did I have enough pasta last night?

9) I’m going to take my next gel now. I hope there are porta-potties, just in case I need to GO!

10) Pace yourself.

11) It’s a Marathon, not a sprint!

12) I cannot wait to eat after this.

13) The ice bath at the end is going to feel OH SO GOOD!

14) Run slow to run faster.

15) Quality over quantity.

16) Remember your why.

17) Run like you stole something.

18) Control your breathing, control your mind, and control your body…

19) One more mile, don’t forget to smile.

20) I have power.

21) I am a runner.

22) A slow mile is still a mile.

23) I can; I will, I must.

24) Short-term death, long-term gains.

25) You can do anything for another 20 minutes.

26) Do now what others won’t; do later what others can’t.

27) It’s okay. YOU’RE fine. Just slow down a bit.

28) Be uncommon among common.

29) Just keep swimming.

30) Embrace the suck.

31) Head down, eyes forward.

32) If you’re not challenged, you won’t change.

33) You’re not going to die; you’ll pass out before you die.

34) The hard is what makes it great.

35) I don’t have to do this. I get to do this.

Can you add #36?

These mantras helped lead me to a 03:02:48 Marathon this past October, reflected in the picture below while running and placing sixth in overall for the women in the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon!

Still on cloud-9!

By the nature of the beast, your first marathon is uncharted territory.

Never stop chasing your goals, and take the necessary steps that you need to get there. If you need help, just ask!

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