I've never run a marathon before, and while I cannot express how excited and honored I am to run on Team USA Endurance*, the official New York marathon team of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and conquer 26.2 miles, the farthest that I've ever run is 13.1 miles just a few months ago. The idea of plowing through and doing two of those in one day gives me serious heart palpitations.
I've been reassured that if I trust the training and do every workout, then I will cross the finish line. However there are other things to know, so I asked two trusted experts, who are heavily experienced with marathons, for their top tips for first-time marathoners.
Track and field elite coach Andrew Allden, who's also a coach for Team USA Endurance, offered these five nuggets of wisdom:
1. Do not test your gear on long runs. Don't try out a new pair of sneaks on a long training run. People often buy new shoes and gear when they start a buildup, but try them on a shorter run first.
2. Start your diet and hydrating plan with your first long run. Early in training is the time to experiment a bit and figure out what works as far as how you're fueling yourself and keeping yourself hydrated. Tailor as you go and find what works for you.
3. Choose softer surfaces. If possible, run on dirt, grass, or gravel. And when you have a choice, pick asphalt instead of concrete.
4. Get a training partner. By working together, you will train better and miss fewer workouts.
5. Don't read ahead. Follow whatever training program you are on and build up gradually. Don't anticipate what's to come or work ahead; just follow the plan day by day. (And expect a little bit of a hump or bump to work through around week three or four.)
Michelle Portalatin, an ITCA-certified triathlon coach said her best advice is:
1. Strength train. A strong skeletal muscular system will better-sustain all the impact endured from the running, and helps prevent imbalances and injuries.
2. Rest.Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
3. Fuel properly for your workouts. Eat a light energizing meal or snack one to two hours before your run. (For more on how to properly fuel yourself, check out my blog on what serious runners should eat.)
4. Run with correct form. See the video below for how to have proper running form.
5. Make training fun. Try different courses and outfits. Mix up your playlists and add different songs. Try running without music if you always listen to tunes. You will be logging many miles during your marathon journey, and changing your environment can help break up the monotony and keep you on track.
*Team USA Endurance was formed this year by the U.S. Olympic Committee to support fundraising efforts for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes at the upcoming games. If you would like to support the U.S. Olympics and Team Endurance as we run the NYC Marathon, you can donate here.