My Top Five Tips for Surviving Your First Marathon

A year ago, while training for the Eau Claire Marathon, I shared a total of 20 tips for training for your first marathon. There’s no marathon on my calendar until fall of 2020 at the earliest (except for the marathon of labor) but I wanted to narrow those tips down to what I think are essential for surviving your first marathon. And not just running the 26.2 miles itself but getting through training without injury and with the most excitement for race day.

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!

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. Or you could have to run on the treadmill for a 20 mile run because of an April blizzard like I did while training for the Eau Claire Marathon which I felt was great mental training.

Practice running without music

My headphones died at about mile 23 of the Twin Cities Marathon and I was not prepared for that. I’ve always had something going in my headphones, whether music, a podcast or audiobook and it was rough going in pretty much silence (because of the rain the crowds weren’t giving out that much energy). So be prepared to be in the toughest part of the race and not have your playlist.

Focus on finishing over a time goal

If you decide to have a time goal, don’t make that your A goal. You should be focused on making it to the finish line uninjured over pushing yourself to run a new distance at a fast pace. Even for the Eau Claire Marathon,  I had an A and B goal. My A goal was to finish under 5 hours (with my first marathon time of 5:02:58 it’s was very much in reach) and my B goal was a stretch of a 4:45 finish time.

Stretch out with yoga

When training for both my marathons, I used yoga as my rest day activity and I’ve continued doing it even now. It’s a great way to get in some movement and stretching without having to be intense. And you don’t even have to leave your house, check out some of my favorite Youtube videos!

Want to check out all my marathon training tips? Read 10 Tips for Your First Marathon and 10 More Tips for Your First Marathon. Not sure if you are ready for your first marathon? Check out 13 reasons why you might not be ready to run a marathon (at least right now).


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