10 Things Every Runner Should Know Before Their First Marathon

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Planning on running your first marathon anytime soon? Then you'll surely want to read up on these tips from Equinox's renowned running coach David Siik before race day. Like Siik says, training for a marathon begins many miles before the actual race. You'll need a proper plan to tackle the 26.2 mile challenge, as race preparation goes beyond just running a few miles a day. From rookie mistakes to avoid to race day prep, we have you covered with everything you need to know before taking your first plunge into the marathon world.

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Starting and Planning Early is Key

This is the grand prix of distance running, it takes a little time to prep for a race this long, but the training is half the battle and half the victory. The experience of a marathon starts many miles before the actual race!

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Find a Running Group or a Running Buddy

First timers are often unaware that there are marathon training groups all around them, in nearly every town. Do a little search and reach out to the coaches or leaders of the group. We coaches love when someone shows interest in running, and if we can’t help you we will likely help lead you in the right direction.

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Emotionally Invest

Decide why you want to run a marathon, even if it’s just because you think it sounds cool, it’s for a great cause, or you want to prove to your kids you can. You never need to tell anyone why, but YOU knowing why and investing in that is the greatest motivator you’ll have, and will help keep you on track.

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Be Careful Jumping Distances

I see many first timers get excited and jump ahead in a training program. Build your mileage gradually (most programs will suggest this). Jumping ahead too soon could lead to injury and possibly burning out before the big debut.

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Training is More Than the Run

Taking care of yourself pre and post run workouts can make or break you. Cleaning up your diet, proper hydration, stretching and making sure you are resting and recovering can be the real game changer leading up to your first marathon. You’ll feel better, perform better, and for so many people, you’ll make healthy life changes that extend long after you cross the finish line.

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You Aren’t Going to Win

And it’s OK! It’s ok to be competitive, but create realistic goals. I also recommend you don’t set a time goal until you are closer to race day. You’ll learn a lot in your prep and will have a much better idea of where you stand toward the end of your training.

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Choose Your Sneakers Carefully

Don’t decide to try new shoes a day before the race. You’ve heard it before, but it’s sound advice. Many runners don’t realize even if they buy the exact same model in the exact same size, it may be just a few millimeters different in fit, and without time to break it in, a simple blister can devastate your run on race day. Know your shoes, love them and be comfortable in them several weeks before your race.

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How to Handle the Start Line

I have gone to watch MANY runners I have coached, and almost always the ones that have the best experience are those who are patient off the start. It’s likely going to be crowded, like you have never seen, and you’re going to get excited. Half of the people in your pace group are going to take off like they are going to break the world record, and well, they aren’t going to. Trust your gut and be patient. The race will open up before you know it, and you’ll settle in. Don’t forget you have a long race to pick up pace.

Supplement Your Run

We live in a new area of “running classes” and I have seen so many people add these classes to their training program with great success. Precision Running at Equinox is a perfect example. It is a track and field based interval class on the treadmills, which can provide you with supplemental endurance speed training during toward the end of your marathon training, with real time coaching and observation. Equinox also offers RunCross, a great outdoor strength and cross training class good for the early stages of your training, or Run Club, which is more mileage based, good through out your training. Lastly, round out these supplemental classes with the regeneration and recovery offered in Runner’s Reset, a myofascial self-massage class to reset the body and avoid injury. These are new and fun ways to spice up your training.

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Be Fully Rested

Many runners panic and try to squeeze in last minute runs a day or two before the marathon. Relax, you’ve done the work. Working out hard just before the race isn’t going to make you stronger in such a short time, and is likely to have a negative affect on race day. Be fully rested, energized and excited to run your first 26.2 miles!

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