Whats the one thing you wish you'd known before your first marathon...

Hi everyone,

 Looking at another thread, I saw a great comment from someone that you should think about the 20 mile mark of the marathon as the 'half-way' point in the marathon - so get to 20 miles and then start the second half of the run!

As a marathon first-timer (FLM08) its so useful to see some advice from experienced marathoners.  I bet that there are a lot of other people on these forums that have knowledge of running marathons that you can't learn about till you've actually run the distance. so...

 What one piece of advice would you offer to a marathon first-timer? Whats the one thing that you wish you'd known for running a marathon, that you have learnt through experience?



  • Most importantly ...

    Have a number of goals from 'best I could ever hope for' to 'gone pear shaped'. Adjust you aims and expectations as the race goes on. If you only have one aim then you may be badly disappointed. For all that training, time and effort you should be able to take many positives away. 

    on a practical note

    1) cut your toe nails one week before hand (very serious)

    2) carry lucozade pouch lids and water bottle lids as they are provided already open

    3)  boys should tape up their nipples.

    4) smile and enjoy it

  • That it's OK to be glad when it's over
  • Make your main target to enjoy it, then start thinking of target times for future marathons - you will be hooked!!!
  • You can never have enough Vaseline, Going to the loo after might be a problem (if anyone reading this has had a baby think of that level of pain), If this is the FLM make sure you don't go to the loo on the mosque before Canary wharf (it's not very well sign posted, it's both wrong and the look of contempt will put you off), you will have the best pint of your life after & mostly enjoy yourself!!!!! image

    p.s. There is another Owl on here hurrah! image

  • Mr PuffyMr Puffy ✭✭✭

    Re the vaseline- I put some on my forehead to stop the sweat running into my eyes and it worked really well until on the embankment I poured a little water onto my head to cool off as I often do, and it just washed pure salt into my eyes-agony!

     Also I untucked my vest from my shorts at one point-couldn't get it back in the way I wanted it for miles.

    The tiniest thing that would be inconvenient in a 10k becomes a major problem at marathon distance. Everything is magnified.

  • Everything is magnified mmm just thought regarding the vaseline how shall I say this depending on boxer shorts and chaffing you might need to put a bit on your errr... groin area and I'm not just talking about your legs image
  • Be prepared to cry at the end. In front of all your hard as nails mates. image

    If you wear a bum bag, make sure it doesn't wear a large hole through the skin in the small of your back. It stings a bit afterwards.

    Don't EVER go for a time on your first go. Very important.

    Get to the start early and enjoy the moment.

  • Mr PuffyMr Puffy ✭✭✭

    Well not everything is magnified!, but definitely on that area yes!   

  • I had a 50p piece in the key pocket at the back of my shorts (can't remember why).

    I was left with a 50p shaped abrasion.

    Grease everything. Bodyglide is better than vaseline, but you can top up as you go round from the nice ladies with handfuls of vaseline held out.
  • Bodyglide - seconded. Vaseline ain't great, but still useful!
  • Enjoy it! Not just the Big Day but the training and the hard work and effort, be proud of yourself.

    Be organised - plan everything, think about what energy drinks/gel you will use (poss do your last LSR as a pre-race 'dress rehearsal'), what you will wear (in cold and hot conditions), have you packed safety pins etc, pre race transport, anyone to look after a warm top for the end etc!!! The minor details can make a difference.

    Plan what pace you set out at and STICK TO IT!!!! Re-assess that if needed and do that fairly early (I knew after 3 miles last year that I needed to slow down just a teeny bit, only 5 secs per mile but it made a difference) Have three time goals in mind, it's impossible to know what will happen on the day.

    I did have time in mind for my first attempt last year and I got within 2 minutes of that time so it can work, even on your first marathon. Granted though I had done a lot of training.

    Believe you can do it, I think this matters more in the marathon than for shorter distances, you have to have that mental strength in the last 6 miles no matter how fast you go or how much training you have done that you can continue at that pace until the end.

    Be prepared to laugh and cry and feel elated and it all to feel slightly surreal afterwards.

    Be prepared to feel knackered the week after!!!

    Be prepared to feel a bit flat the week after that!

    And practise going down the stairs backwords!

  • Stairs backwards lol. Be prepared to walk like Douglas Barder for a week  image
  • or even backwards - sorry
  • Ive only done the one ( FLM 07 ) but check the weather forcast . Theres nought you can do about it but the mental understanding of knowing if your going to be running in any extremes might make some of those " what the fcuk am i doing here" a little easier to deal with , and if i may add a second its how brilliant the massive crowd are every foot of the way but  i found it  a bit over whelming in places    ( tower bridge  ) all i can say is take it all in and enjoy every last second of it and keep the memories for they are truly special  

  • Sue didn't even notice was laughing at the pain of trying to walk after pushing yourself that hard for 26.2 miles image see user stats image
  • AnnajoAs Sue C says, plan and prepare meticulously for marathon day-- e.g. what time will I get up, what am I going to wear, when will I have breakfast, what will I have for breakfast, how will I get to the start, what time should I arrive at the start, how shall I pass the time while I'm waiting at the start, what is a realistic target/pace, what should I do if I'm struggling with my intended pace, what fuel (e.g. gels, lucozade) should I take and when, how will I adjust my target if it's very windy or hot?I write all of this down (now is a good time to do it) and review this list from time to time, and wherever possible practice my race day routine. Why bother with all this obssessional nonsense? Because on marathon day you're going to be very nervous (this will be my 5th FLM and the nerves don't get any easier) and you're going be asking yourself, can I do this? If you have a well worked out, familiar routine, it's going to be easier for you to calm your mind with the message that this just another run, and most importantly you can concentrate on enjoying the whole occasion. It will all be over in a flash.Have a great marathonITFAC
  • 1) Bodyglide

    2)sunglasses, hat, oldes comfiest bra, short and top all practiced in

    3) disposable camera in your kit bag. My fav photos ever are the ones me and hubs took jsut before the start and just after the finish.


    5) DO NOT be disapointed if you are slower than you planned. It's just too bloody long to be sure how you will cope.

    6) There is no such thing as too many gels. Especially if the buggers fall out of our belt during the race.

    7) My personal mantra after bitter experience is : Don't stop, stretching will not help the pain go away.

    8) If doing FLM just write off the first couple of miles - everyone stops at least twice in the first mile.

  • Oh yeah - you will be a bit depressed the week after but you will cheer up when you sign up for the next race.

  • annajoannajo ✭✭✭
    so much good stuff here - thanks guys image
  • This is great - keep it coming please image

    Many thanks to all contributers. 

  • M..o.useM..o.use ✭✭✭
    I still have a scar from 6 months ago where my bum bag rubbed the waist band of my shorts into my back.  It does indeed sting a bit!
  • You don't necessarily have to drink at every station look at the conditions - I spent about 25 mins in various queues for the bog in NY
  • Amen to that G.A  i was down for a month and couldnt really get motivated for a couple of months .

    The more you can plan the easier EVERYTHING will be  

  • You need to be able to easily engage in conversation until at least half way; if that's hard you're going too fast.

    You do not HAVE to eat and drink.  Plenty of people don't.  I suspect that sports drinks and gels are probably the single biggest cause of people having a bad day.  Regardless of what you've done in training, treat your digestive system with extreme care during the race.

    Nip tape and vaseline, under your arms as well as between the legs.  A thin layer over the whole foot also prevents blisters.

    Tower Bridge is NOT nearly the finish.

  • M..o.useM..o.use ✭✭✭

    Actually, my best piece of advice is probably here already somewhere.

    Make sure you have run a long run in your chosen kit for the day at least once so that you don't end up carving a groove into your body during the race.

    ouch ouch ouch 

  • SezzSezz ✭✭✭

    Mouse, I have exactly the same scar!   Annoying as it's just where I wanted a second tattoo.

    I wish I'd understood about pace a bit more and I wished I'd been brave enough to look at my watch in the last few miles as I might just have squeezed out a little bit more oomph and got under the 5 hour mark. 

    I also wish I'd looked more closely at the temperature beforehand as I was far too hot and didn't realise how hot I would get.  I hadn't worn my charity vest before the race as I only got it a few days before which was very annoying.

  • I'll let you know in a few weeks...image
  • Thanks for all these great tips *wibble wibble*!
  • Get a good night's sleep and lie-in on the Friday night/Saturday morning. Laze around on the Saturday. You may not sleep much on the Saturday night.

    The after-effects last longer than you first think. I think my race times in late May were much slower than expected.

  • I didnt realise how emotional I would feel when I turned at the statue at the top of the Mall to see the finish line in front of me.

    Be prepared to cross the finish line with tears running down your face.

    Have a great day.

Sign In or Register to comment.