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Debbie Rubel

Advice for First-Time Marathon Runners

Photo by Rich Kenington

Photo by Rich Kenington (Creative Commons License)

I’m running my first marathon this weekend at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. I’ve done the half marathon four times, and now that I’ve fixed my shin splints and tweaked my running posture, I’m ready to go for the full.

Luckily, I have several friends who have run a marathon as a stand-alone race and/or as part of an Ironman. I asked them to share some advice with me and anyone else who is running their first marathon.

Absolutely nothing new on race day. No new shoes, no new clothes, no new foods, nothing.  Race day is not the time to find out those socks your friend recommended chafe and you don’t want to discover at mile 15 that orange flavored Gatorade makes you nauseous. If you didn’t train with it, don’t race with it. – Ben Schorr, Marathoner

Put your name on the front of your shirt.  – Peter Shankman, Marathoner and Ironman
(People will cheer for you by name if you do this.)

I would say to trust the training that you’ve done so far. Don’t overdo it the week before, but also be sure not to shut down completely. For me, I did an easy paced 5 or 6 mile run the day before the race with a long cool down and stretch. Get a long night’s sleep and make sure to hydrate well the morning of the race.  – Marian Grucky, Marathoner

If you look to the right, and you are standing next to a guy from Kenya, you are in the wrong corral. Okay, some more practical advice.  If you are feeling really good at mile, 5, 10, 15, or 20, DON’T speed up.  Just keep running your usual pace.  At mile 22 or 23, if you are feeling good, you can start to pick up your pace.  – Kolby Granville, Marathoner and Ironman

My advice for a first marathon is to go to enjoy it.  Go to feel out the distance and to see how your body responds to going that far. Stay well within your physical limits in the moment. Relax.  If you want to push wait until the last 6 miles or so when you have a sense that you will make it. Run with someone who has done it before and is not bound to a time. – Debbie Rubel, Marathoner

Assuming you have a target pace in mind, if the race has professional pace runners, stick with them or near them. Race day excitement usually makes me start too fast, and pacers keep you on track from the start, plus they put you in the starting pack at roughly the right place.  – Rick Ortmeyer, Marathoner

Thank the volunteers. The race would be much different without them out there to help us.  – Ben Schorr, Marathoner

Don’t worry about your time — your goal is to finish!  – Chad Belville, Marathoner

If you are reading this because you are preparing for your first marathon, have a great race! I hope you feel awesome when you cross the finish line.