Learn from my mistakes – your first marathon

Last winter I ran my first ever marathon – Dubai Standard Chartered Marathon, and this year I am stupid enough to repeat the same recklessness over again! During my last year’s race I managed to commit all the possible rookie crimes that made my “marathon virgin” experience far from pleasant, if running 42.2 km can at all be pleasant.

So lets say you have trained as hard as you could and nailed the majority of your scheduled runs, you have chosen and signed up for the race and you are ready to rock it! What else could go wrong?

1. Not having enough sleep the night before. This is a tough one… It is so very normal to be nervous and excited, but the best thing you can do is have a good night’s sleep before the race. If the race is early in the morning – try going to bed and waking up early for several days prior to the race to get your body used to this regime.

2. Follow your usual long run morning routine that worked for you before. Last year for some stupid reason I decided to have oatmeal for prerace breakfast though I had never eaten it before my long runs. Believe me, you do not want to know the consequences…

3. Having a good hmmmm… bowel movement… the morning of the race is so very important, that I will say no more here.

4. In case you are not very well familiar with the course, try to drive down it several days before the race to learn the route. It will help to know in advance where your water-stations and porta potties are.

5. If this is your first race – don’t overwhelm yourself with time goals or at least try to be as realistic as possible. Just finishing a marathon is a great achievement and setting the wrong time goal and not achieving it can be very disappointing.

6. DON’T start out too fast. Very obvious, but many, including myself, fall into this trap over and over again. It is going to be a long run, longer that you have probably ever run before, and killing yourself during the first 20-25 km is not the best race strategy. Someone said that marathon is just a 10 km race with a 32 km warm-up. It is true for most of the runners out there, rookies and experienced alike. So be smart.

7. Try to stick to your nutrition and hydration strategy, but still be flexible and adjust it according to how you feel. Last year I was planning on taking gels every 45 minutes. Then, at some point of time my stomach refused to work – it was grumbling, cramping and generally misbehaving (read point 2 above) .I still shoved a gel into my mouth despite all those signs and oh boy did I feel sorry about it later. So again – adjust your strategy if it is absolutely necessary.

8. If you are travelling for the race – have a contingency plan to help you manage any unexpected situations like change of weather or unavailability of your favorite gel or sports drink in the local stores. My general advice is to be as much self-sufficient in terms of your nutrition as possible and not to rely much on the race organizers.

9. Taper! Training hard and going super-long 2 weeks before the race will not give you any extra fitness and will just tire you out both mentally and physically.

10. Push yourself harder towards the end and don’t give up. You will be tired and exhausted, probably bonking, legs won’t listen and you will hurt. But try to push yourself through this misery and believe me, you will feel awesome when crossing the finish line and knowing that you have done everything that you possibly could on that day! It is a much better feeling than thinking that you did not do enough.

And another advice – go out there and enjoy and do not forget to thank all the volunteers and race organizers for the amazing job that they do!

Dubai Standard Chartered Marathon countdown has started. 8 days to go!

Bring it on!!!

3 thoughts on “Learn from my mistakes – your first marathon

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