On June 28th, myself and Mike completed our first ever marathon. As with most things that I do, I decided not to choose a nice, gentle, flat, road race but to enter a gruelling, rocky, mountainous, trail marathon! And I loved it!! After this incredible experience, between the two of us we have put together a list of our top ten tips for your first marathon.
1. Drag a friend along with you. There's nothing better than having someone you know to share the pain with you. Great moral support and someone to congratulate you immediately as you cross the line. And throw energy gels at you when you are looking weary!
2. Its all in the mind. If you have done the necessary training and you believe you can get to the end there'll be no stopping you. Feeling positive and holding your body tall, with a positive posture will make you feel less tired and more confident.
3. Carry enough water. If you enter a marathon that doesn't have a constant stream of water stations then don't underestimate how much water you will need to carry. It's better to have too much than too little. Even if it's not hot you will be sweating a lot!
4. Make sure you take plenty of energy gels or whatever type of energy product you like. You don't want to run out at the end when you are feeling your worst. But make sure you try the energy products before race day. Vomiting while trying to complete a race is not fun!!
5. Test out your kit before the big day. Preferably quite a while before the race so that if you find out that something isn't right it can be corrected or changed.
6. Understand the pain your body experiences. Know what is the kind of pain you can push through and what is the kind of pain thats leading to an injury. It will hurt, its a marathon. You will need to continue through pain if you want to finish. But don't push on through pain that is going to leave you seriously injured. I guess you gain this knowledge through experience.
7. Be prepared. Have all your kit organised the night before so you know where everything is and you aren't running around getting stressed trying to find things the morning of the race when you should be relaxing. If you are carrying a pack make sure that you know where each item is in your bag and the things that could be needed quickly are easily accessible. For example, snacks in waist pockets, blister patches near the top.
8. Don't sprint off at the beginning. Its a long race! In fact, it's probably best to go really slow at the beginning, you will have plenty of time to pick up the pace later if you are feeling fresh. And then overtake all the people that did sprint off at the start!!
9. Do the training! If you haven't put in the time and mileage then its all going to be way tougher for you than the other competitors, and you could be risking getting injuries that won't be pleasant. You only get out what you put in.
10. Enjoy it! Enjoy it! Enjoy it! You have more than likely paid to enter this event so make the most of it. Unless you are Paula Ratcliffe you probably aren't going to be breaking any world records so just enjoy the experience.
Emma and Mike