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On running a successful first marathon

Posted Mar 16 2013 11:37am

Thoughts on running your first marathon

My head has been swarming with details to talk to Debi about … LA 2013 is her first marathon and really first race environment and I feel like there are a lot of little things that I have learned on my marathoner journey that I want to share with her.

Its a fabulous distraction from the girl inside my head who is freaking out about the marathon she’s also running in less than 48 hours.

Tips for a successful race

Water Stops

  • Stop at nearly every one and at least take a sip of water – Even if you aren’t thirsty.  Dehydration once felt is too late.
  • Walk them.  Grab a cup from the lovely volunteer and walk while drinking it.
  • I’ve walked the water stops at every single marathon I’ve run.  A 4:20 marathon and a 3:35 … 7 marathons in I am finally going to try not walking.  On your first marathon, or even 2nd.  Walk them.
  • Watch your footing around the water stop.  Cups + water = slippage
Water stop


  • If you plan on running with your iPod don’t switch it on immediately.  Wait for at least a few miles, ideally as many as possible.
  • Use your music as a treat when you really need it.
  • Turn off your music in the last mile, soak up the energy of the finish line!

Make Friends

  • Race day camaraderie is the BEST part of running, everyone is on your team and ready to support you.  Smile at those around you while running and say HI you never know what friends you will make
  • This is another reason for leaving your music off

Fueling and nutrition

  • Have a plan – if you ate 3 GU Chomps every 4 miles during training do the same in the marathon.
  • Pay attention to the miles as they go, they may fly by … but don’t forget to fuel.
  • Don’t eat or drink new items on the course – If you have never had PowerAde in your life, don’t choose the marathon to try it.  Stay away from anything that you didn’t train with.
  • That also goes for the candy that people are handing out on the sidelines.  Maybe its the Mama in me … Don’t take candy from strangers, folks.

Your Fan Club

  • You will want to see people, ask your friends and family to come spectate, maybe even at multiple locations on the race course
  • Know your approximate pace so that your spectators can gauge when you will hit certain mile markers
  • Know where your spectators are going to be – this will accomplish 2 things: it forces them to plan in advance where they will be and it will give you something to look forward to
  • Have them bring signs or something that is easily spottable – balloons, fireworks … whatever!
  • If you ask your spectators to bring you something on the race course, have a back up plan.  You don’t want to be depending on a banana at mile 15 to find that your peeps got stuck in traffic.
Photo 3

Course Strategy

  • Be careful of banking – some courses have heavy banking (meaning that the road slants at the edge). Try to avoid it, your knees will thank you.
  • Run the tangents – the course is designed to be run as a straight line.  Meaning that you don’t have to curve around on a winding road, you can just run in a straight line.


Porta Potties

  • if you gotta go, you gotta go.  There will be port potties on the race course.  Typically the first few miles there are lines for the potties, but if you can hold it until you see one without a line.  It will save you time and anxiety.  There is nothing more anxiety inducing than standing in line for the bathroom while the race run past you.

First Aid

  • Medical tents will be sporadic throughout the course, however if you have a medical problem and don’t see a med tent, just stop.  The medical volunteers will find you … and the crowd will help you in the meantime.


Marathons are like the ocean  


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