Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Marathon!
We all start somewhere, and for many of us that might mean just lacing up our shoes and going for a run! This is a great start, but the more you catch the “running bug” you start to learn there is a lot more that goes into the sport than most people realize! In fact, we asked our AMPT Ambassador Team for some insight on things they wish they knew before their first half/full marathon, and we’ve compiled their answers below. Whether you’re a brand-new runner or an experienced runner looking to brush up on your craft, we hope these tips help you feel more prepared come race day!
- Be prepared and have a plan!
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, never do anything new on race day. Having an all-encompassing training plan was the common answer among all our AMPT Ambassadors. According to Quincy Johnson, AMPT Ambassador who also suggested the topic for this article, “any experimentation should be done early in your training plan so that in the last few weeks of training there is no doubt in your mind about the race day plan.” This is especially true with nutrition, Quincy continued “I wish someone would’ve told me not to eat so many gels! Stomach distress is a real thing, so everything you plan to utilize on race day should be incorporated throughout.” This is great advice, and you can learn the why behind this in our previous article around race day nutrition!This sentiment was echoed by fellow AMPT Ambassador, Charles Allison, who suggested “Always have a plan of attack when running a half or full marathon. Do not stray from that plan.” Things that could be included in your plan of attack are not only the training mileage, but also nutrition as mentioned above, and even down to planning your race day outfit! The more comfortable and prepared you feel going in, the less stress you will have on race day!
- “The race is the easy part – enjoy it!” – AMPT Ambassador, Meghan O’Gorman
AMPT Ambassador Meghan O’Gorman, who has run hundreds of races, also calls upon her training come race day. “The race is the easy part, enjoy it! You put in the hard work through all the training miles, early mornings, and dedication… now enjoy the experience and have fun!” Meghan also encourages new runners to “forget about time and just complete the distance.” She shared “Part of the reason I didn’t have any fun on my first half marathon was because I was obsessed with meeting a certain time. If it’s your first half or full, it’s an automatic PR, so forget about time. There will be other chances for improvement.”While running can be a very competitive sport, it is important to remember this advice from Meghan and have fun! As runner’s, we can get caught up in the “you vs. you” mentality and become hard on ourselves, constantly pushing to be better. At the end of the day, it is important to remember why you run. Maybe you started for weight loss or to become healthier overall, but most of us stay for the love of running, so remember that come race day. Trust your training and have fun doing the thing!
- Running shoes aren’t the only gear you need!
There’s a big misconception that all runner’s need is a pair of running shoes and while that might be true at a basic level, there are a lot of accessories that can be very helpful in training and come race day. For example, Charles Allison recommended using body glide to prevent chaffing when running vs. Band-Aids which can fall off when you sweat.Additionally, finding an on-the-go hydration solution that works for you is also helpful, whether it be a Camelback, handheld water bottle designed for running, or a carrying belt. Whichever you choose, staying hydrated in your training and on race day is crucial. In addition to water, Charles also suggests having “a go to source that helps you replenish electrolytes and sodium levels.” His favorites are pickle juice and Pedialyte, but Gatorade, Nuun, and Powerade are also great options!
- Pay attention to the weather, but don’t let it de-rail you!
Remember, you can’t control the weather, so while it is important to pay attention to race day conditions, don’t let it mess with your mindset. Meghan O’Gorman has a great mindset about weather conditions going into a race: “they are unpredictable, so just make the best of it!” If you see it might rain, Meghan suggests bringing a trash bag as a throw away rain poncho and a zip block bag to protect your phone.
- Finally, running is just as much mental as it is physical.
This was another commonly discussed theme among our ambassadors! As Meghan explains it “For my first ultra, advice that I got was to train like you would a marathon. If you do that, the rest is all mental!” This rings true for a marathon and half marathon too, trust your training and the stay mentally tough come race day – that will get you over the finish line!
Charles Allison has a great suggestion for breaking past these mental barriers “Find someone to befriend that is going your same pace. It will go a long way for both of you when things start getting tough. I’ve met some great people while running a half marathon and this helped me mentally push through when I was getting tired.” This is excellent advice for both mid-race and during training on those long runs. Either way, Charles continues, “make sure to give them a high five at the end!” Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
We hope this advice guides you as you prepare for your next long-distance run! Special thanks to AMPT Ambassadors Quincy Johnson, Charles Allison, and Meghan O’Gorman for sharing their insight and experience! We hope to see all of you soon at the Hot Trot Half/10K/5K!