I ran my first full marathon (26.2 miles, baby!) in 2008 on the beautiful island of Honolulu, Hawaii. My cousin and I were so inspired by my brother’s 2007 Honolulu Marathon finish that we vowed to run the following year’s race together. It’s amazing how far I’ve come in my marathon journey. It’s hard to imagine almost a decade ago I huffed and puffed a couple miles, let alone complete 26.2 miles.
Since then I’ve run three half-marathons (four, in August), two full marathons, and a 200-mile (36-hour) relay. I’m by no means an expert–more often I feel faux than pro. I still struggle with motivating myself to run and each time I begin training it feels like I’m starting all over again.
Signing up for a long-distance race is daunting. But knowing what to expect can ease your race jitters and boost your confidence. Looking back, there are some lessons I wish I hadn’t learned the hard way for my first marathon. I wish someone gave me the low down on race preparation and day-of expectations before jumping head-first into the racing world.
If you signed up and ready to train for a half or full marathon, here’s what I want you to know:
What I Wish I Had Known Before Running my First Marathon // Part 1
There’s no perfect training plan, so find one that works for you and stick to it.
I’m a running delinquent when it comes to properly training for a marathon. This is something I’m working on. Yes, I’m training myself to train myself to keep to a consistent schedule. What I look for in a suitable training plan is not only a gradual increase and then tapering off mileage each week, but a mix of interval runs and strength training. For this half-marathon coming up in August, so far I’m on track and it’s a big thanks to the handy dandy Lululemon SeaWheeze 14-week half-marathon training schedule and their comprehensive training program to prepare the body and mind. I also give mad props to my better half who is voluntarily training alongside with me. He’s training for a half-marathon race that he won’t be running. What a keeper.
For those training for a full marathon (26.2 miles), I came across this PopSugar Beginner 18-week Marathon Training Program. Too bad this wasn’t around in 2008. I would have committed the sh*t out of this plan.
Strength Training, Cross Training, and Sprints are your friends.
I know, as if running isn’t hard enough, now you gotta incorporate strength and cross training and all that jazz? These are integral to help prevent injuries and build optimal strength so you can run more comfortably and with stronger form. Sprints aid in running faster and help you hit your goal time. However, you can’t have one without the other. You have to build the foundations of a stronger body before focusing on speed. My first marathon I made the mistake of only just running during training. It helped with my endurance but my body (lower back area) didn’t feel strong enough to hold a proper running form for long periods of time. Nowadays I love High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts to build strength and I’ve been regularly incorporating spin for endurance and hot yoga for flexibility.
Lululemon SeaWheeze created this Strengthen Your Stride workouts that are designed to support your run training. Give it a whirl.
Proper stretching pre and post workout is your other friend.
Stretching before and after a run helps ease your body into and out of a high-impact activity–focusing on hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, quads, glutes, and lower back. Activating your muscles before a run can help maintain good form while stretching after can help prevent stiffness and soreness from pushing your limits. Refer to Lululemon SeaWheeze Strengthen Your Stride workouts that cover warm-up and cool-down moves. Also incorporating sessions with a foam roller is a bonus! Giving yourself a massage 1x or 2x/week with a foam roller will help prevent injuries.
Here’s a foam-rolling routine that will certainly hit all your sore spots. Using a foam roller can hurt like a mother but it essentially works like a massage–rolls out your knots, hits sore spots, and eventually, you’ll feel relaxed. No pain, no gain, right?