From a First Time Marathon Finisher, What I learned:

1. It Hurts
There is no way around it running 26.2 miles hurts. I remember crossing the finish line and watching all of the finishers having what I call the “marathoner walk” as we hobbled around. Yep, there is no avoiding the pain your body is going to hurt, especially your feet…they are taking a pounding for hours so it is simply inevitable. Your feet will hurt no matter how great your shoes are.

2. Know and Listen to Your Body
Sounds easy right? But it really isn’t. Knowing when to stop running is important. You always hear sayings like, “push through the pain”, “push past your limits”, but the reality is that is a great way to get injured if your body is sending you some strong messages to stop. Listen to what your body is telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, stop.

3. Hydrate and Nourish Your Body During the Race
26.2 miles is a long distance…your body needs water and nourishment. I made it my prerogative to hydrate at every water station, and to also have some fuel. Think about it, does your car run without fuel in it? Nope, and neither does your body.

4. Good Shoes Make the Difference
If you are going to invest in anything when training and running a marathon, invest in the shoes. Properly fitted running shoes will make a huge difference in the level of pain you experience in your feet during the race.

5. Losing Toenails is a Real Thing
Even with properly fitted shoes…running that far of distance might result in a lost toenail or two. Bright side, they will grow back. After my marathon I lost two toenails and I am sad to say the nails are still kind of funky looking, but they grew back.

6. Chafing Happens
Yes, the struggle of chafing is real and it hurts! It is much like rug burn and takes a while to heal. Know the clothing you plan on wearing race day and do not wear anything you haven’t worn before, you never know what and where you will get chafing if you are wearing new gear.

7. Oldies but Goodies
Somewhat repetitive of number six, but go with running gear you are comfortable in. I wore the same thing to run both my half marathons and my full marathon in 2015. It was familiar, it was comfortable, and I knew how the gear would rub/fit my body. Go with oldies, but goodies on race day.

8. Listen to the Crowd
The crowd is there to cheer you on, acknowledge them! Slap hands, smile, take the freebie candies, and pay attention to the crowd! Honestly, this was one of the biggest factors that kept me going, steal the crowd’s energy to keep going!

9. Train
Never listen to anyone who said they completed any race without training. This is an awful idea and you are just asking to get severely injured. Find a training plan that works for you and stick with it.

10. Set a Goal
Whether your goal is to simple finish a marathon or finish under four hours, have a goal. Having a goal in mind is really going to help you get through those training runs and during the race you will have that goal in the back of your mind for extra motivation.