Race day nerves are a big part of running marathons, no matter whether it's your first or your fifteenth. Even when you've ticked off the training miles without a hiccup, the thought of having to run 26.2 miles for the very first time, is pretty terrifying. But it's not all bad news! We might not be able to get rid of your nerves or make sure you get through injury-free, but we can give you these awesome tips and tricks, plus a few things to avoid, that will help make sure your first-time is a much more enjoyable experience!
Watch the Weather
Sure, it sounds obvious, but it's an easy detail to forget that might make or break your race day. An unexpected heatwave or torrential downpour could really put you off, especially if you're not wearing the right kit - which brings us on to our next point:
Don't Run In New Gear
Race day is not the time to try anything new, be that a new pair of running shoes or a fancy new top. Make sure you stay comfortable for 3+ hours by giving your race day outfit - from your sun cap to your top and shoes - a test run. Otherwise you could have some seriously unpleasant chaffing coming your way...
Line Up Your Entertainment
Whatever method of distraction is your favourite - music playlists, podcasts or even audio-books - make sure you've got your killer roster ready and waiting. A marathon takes a long-time to run, so mix things up with some of your favourite playlists, plus an energy-boosting music line up too - it's all about keeping your mind busy so you don't focus on the pain!
Get Organised The Night Before
Whatever you do, don't add any unnecessary anxieties to your already stressful day! Find out where the bag drop is, look at the race route so you know where things will get tough, and get your kit organised the night before too. Having your race bib, outfit and snacks all ready to go will help to keep you in the zone when you rock out of bed. We like to have our pre-race overnight oats prepped in the fridge and ready to eat too...
Running a marathon doesn't have to be all bad! Carb-loading is definitely one of the best parts about the whole experience, and possibly the only part we're certain we'd excel at! When it comes to choosing your dinner the night before, don't make it too complicated. Go for something carb-heavy, but that is familiar and simple too. You don't want to go for anything particularly spicy or unusual when your stomach is already jittery with nerves! Plenty of pasta, rice or potatoes will make sure your carbohydrate stores are filled up ready for the big day – it’s just like filling up your car with petrol ready for an epic road trip!
Gather Your Support Team
It's the little things that make marathon running a whole lot more enjoyable. Whether that's a stranger cheering you on or when you catch one of your loved ones cheering you on from the sidelines. It'll be the emotional boost you'll need when things start to get tough.
You've already planned your pre-race carb-load, but how are you going to fuel up halfway round the course? 26.2 miles is too long to run without extra energy, so make a plan as to how you'll take on water and plenty of carbohydrates mid-run. You need to try out what works for you on long training runs, but we recommend sipping on water little and often, rather than gulping it back when your thirst is strong.
In terms of food; taking in 40-60g of carbohydrates per hour of something easily-digestible (such as an energy gel or handful of jelly beans) is ideal. For more on how to use energy gels, and even some alternative ideas if they don't work for you, check out our post here.
Keep Your Head Up
One of the biggest factors into having a successful race day, is in your mental game. It's easier said than done, but try to avoid talking to yourself negatively. Remind yourself of the hard-work you've put in and times where you've pushed through the pain barrier to succeed. You can even have some positive mantras ready to chant in your head!
Similar, to the above point, try to start off chilled. One of the biggest mistakes made by first-timers is getting swept up with the crowd and starting off way to fast. By keeping to a steady pace, you'll avoid burning out later on. It's much easier to speed up when you have energy left in the tank, than it is to fight the pain when you hit the dreaded wall...
Unsurprisingly, running a marathon isn't easy, and there's always going to be tough moments when you start to question everything! But it's also an amazing experience that you'll never forget. Remember to enjoy it; to take in the crowd and really appreciate the other runners around you who all have the same goal. Plus, feeding off the crowd's energy will help motivate you through the pain! So take your headphones off for a while and soak it all in…
How are you getting ready for your first marathon? What are some other top tips that you wish you knew on the big day? Leave us a comment below or give us a tag on Instagram...