On our way back from Bayshore I met two young ladies who asked me some advice. They are planning on running their first marathon this fall in Grand Rapids. Mike gave them our card and said to look to our web site for advice.
Since Sarah, Argenta and I are leading groups of new runners to (for almost all of them) their first 1/2 marathon at the Brooksie, I though we could put down some good advice for ALL first time marathoners.
As always the top goal for all of us is to get to the start line healthy with no injuries.
I'm asking all those who have run the full marathon distance or longer to put down some words of wisdom to help get our fellow runners to their first goal (healthy start!)
I'll post more but here is my first tip:
#1 Resist the urge to over train. Running is like a drug, the more you do, the more you want. Choose a plan that is best for your time and ability. Everyone has their max miles weekly that they can run with out injury. How will you know what it is. Well that's the problem, you won't know until it's too late, so don't over do! Once you have plan don't be afraid to tweek it to work for you (for example if you are running a race instead of a long run or skipping a day do to family activities, switching long run or speed work days).
The great thing about running with a group is that there is always someone to run with however don't be tempted to add more miles than your body can handle. Yes I know, we are all hard core and our bodies can take anything, but don't push it often. Get to the start healthy. Marathon training is 18 weeks for a reason. Enjoy the journey.
Training for and completing your first marathon may indeed be the hardest thing you ever do. Take it seriously, but try to enjoy the process. After completing your first marathon you will never be a virgin marathoner again and you will look back on your first with a sweet nostalgia, no matter how it goes. With marathoning, the journey is a major part of what makes the destination so rewarding. So tip #1 is to savor the process. Tip #2 - listen to your body and don't be a slave to the schedule. Let the schedule be a rough plan, but listen to your body and be sure to take it easy when your body is complaining. Conversely, pick it up or take it a little further when your feeling great. Just make sure you're staying roughly on track with the schedule so you build mileage gradually and sufficiently to meet your goal. The ability to pick up on your body's signals and react appropriately are the most valuable skills a marathoner can learn.
Since so many club members have signed up for their first marathons this fall I wanted to call attention to some of the posts in this section. As a club we are all so happy that you have chosen to share your first time marathon experience with us and hope that we have fun this summer training together. That being said so many of you have jumped from 5k races to marathon in such a short time that I want to add this disclaimer.
Know that you are going to be sore, you may very well have some (hopefully slight) injury, and that weather and health will not always go hand in hand with your training. DONT PUSH IT! No really! I know you see so many folks who are running long long distances and are thinking you should be too. Don't! Some of our club members are running their 2nd, 6th or 12th marathon. Your body does have limits and has to learn and adapt to the changes you are asking of it.
DONT PUT A TIME GOAL ON YOUR FIRST MARATHON. I know it's tempting when you hear others talking about race pace, track work with splits and long pace runs to put a finish time in your head. Just enjoy the fact that you will be part of 1% of Americans who have completed a full marathon.
Sarah said it best...COMPLETING a marathon is an enormous accomplishment in itself. The LAST thing that should happen is for you to look at the clock, realize you didn't make your "goal" and feel disappointed. You should feel an amazing amount of pride for what you have just accomplished - celebrate it! You will never know what race day will bring - nerves, stomach issues, cold, heat, wind, snow, rain, poor nutrition, dehydration, cramps. Getting to the finish line is fabulous...enjoy! :)
Thank you Sarah - keeping this in my head helped keep my sanity during the 85+ degree Chicago Marathon!! :)