It’s common to hear that the hardest part of a marathon is committing to the training, or maybe it’s the last 6.2 miles after you’re 20 miles into the run. For me, the toughest part of my first marathon had more to do with the fact that I took a free, untested GU pack from an aid station: my stomach went sour quickly and, after that, every aid station with a port-a-potty became a “finish line” in my mind! I’ll leave my description at that - I did finish the race, but I would not recommend this tactic as a viable tip. Instead, here are a few of my tips for surviving your first marathon:

  1. Commit to a race that’s several months in the future, then use a calendar to carve out time for the long prep runs. Your speed work and higher-intensity short runs require less time and can be moved around a busy schedule, but pick one day a week that is your time to unplug and run long.
  2. Test your nutrition supplements ahead of time (trust me, the ‘surprise’ food factor is not fun when trying to grind out your first marathon!). Buy individual packets, find what you like and what agrees with you, and then buy in bulk to save money. Your local REI offers a nice discount on performance foods when you buy 10 or more.
  3. Don’t decide immediately after your race if you’ll ever do another! It’s been said that it’s both the beauty and bane of humanity that we forget. When you cross the finish line, the pain you feel might make you question ever signing up again, but my advice is to give it a few minutes. The runner’s high will kick in while you’re in the beer garden, you’ll forget the pain, and you just might be ready for another.

So, those are my best 3 tips. I’m curious, what tips can anyone else in our community recommend for someone looking towards their first marathon?

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