10 tips for your first marathon

Now that I’m less than two months away from my second marathon, I thought I’d share some tips if you are in the middle of (or considering) training for your first marathon. I had a lot of fun training for the Twin Cities Marathon but it was tough and I learned a lot of lessons along the way!

Find a plan that works for you

I love Hal Higdon’s training plans so I knew I’d be using one of his plans for my first marathon. However, I knew that I wanted to do some speedwork to mix it up during the week which is why I went to the Intermediate plans. Take the time to find a plan that will work for you (and your life) while getting you ready to run 26.2!

Practice fueling on the run

You don’t want to make it to race day to find out you aren’t fueling enough or that by the time you get further into your mileage, your stomach doesn’t like what you are fueling with. My stomach handled Gu gels with no problems throughout the Twin Cities Marathon and I did a little bit of testing with timing and taking salt supplements.

Don’t try to lose weight

The purpose of running a marathon should not be to lose weight because you aren’t (and if you do, your performance will suffer). Your body goes through a lot of mileage training for a marathon and you need to be eating for that. Plus, you’ll gain weight from increased inflammation and carbs (if your body runs on higher carbs).


There’s nothing worse than being hangry (or rungry) because you aren’t eating enough during marathon training. But this doesn’t mean you should just eat everything in sight or eat all the junk food. I found that macro cycling works best from me to get enough food in on my higher mileage days without feeling bloated on lower activity days.

Don’t make this your first race

I would never suggest you go from couch to marathon. Running a marathon is one thing, running your first race is something completely different. I ran five half marathons before my first full. Now you don’t have to do that but I’d suggest running at least one so you know what going through a training cycle is like and get out those first race jitters.

Make recovery a focus

I’ve said it so many times but marathon training is rough on your body. Make time for foam rolling, stretching or yoga. Make time to soak in a bath (epsom salt or ice). Make time to sleep. Your body will thank you.

Study the race course

Now what’s in store for you, whether there’s lots of flat sections, rolling hills or anything else. Then, go ahead and train to what your race course will be like (although I’d suggest always running some hills to strengthen your legs even if the course is flat).

Run in whatever weather gets thrown at you

You can hope for perfect weather on race day but that might not happen. So run in the cold, the wind, the rain, the heat, the humidity. Whatever weather gets thrown at you. It drizzled (and rained) for at least half of my first marathon and I was not prepared to run in rain for that long.

Learn what food works (and doesn’t work)

You don’t want to wake up on race day with an upset stomach because you ate something different the night before and it is not agreeing with your stomach. Find out what works best for you to eat the day before and morning of a long run and make sure you’ll have those available on race day (especially if you are traveling for your marathon)!

Try out your race day outfit before

Make sure to wear your race day outfit on at least one long run before race day (nothing new on race day). You want to make sure nothing rubs or chafes on a run and that everything feels comfortable and temperature-appropriate.

Come back next week for another ten tips for your first marathon!

What did you learn from running a marathon? Share it in the comments!