Monday, February 7, 2011

Unsolicited Advice for the First Time Marathoner

I've been stalking reading a lot of blogs lately about women out there conquering their first marathons.  I'm proud of you all.  You're all going to be amazing.

Uh, on that note-

Dudes, you all need to RELAX!

The marathon will come to you, you cannot rush it.  So all this worry about "how do I know how to pace myself" nonsense going around, is just that... nonsense.  Listen to your body and you will know the answer to your pace.

I recommend running your first marathon at what I like to call your "happy pace".  If you are going out of finish, then you should look back through your training log/run journal (you are keeping one right?  along with a food journal/diary?) and look at your average for your 16, 18, 20 milers.

For me, on my first marathon, this would have been around a 10:30/11 minute pace.  And yet somehow I thought that I was going to head out on race day and run a blistering 9:50 pace.  The reason?  Well one of those online calculators said I could, based on my Half Marathon PR.

Never mind that when I ran that Half Marathon I was trained to perfection, had peaked at the right moment, the weather was more than perfect, and was doing the hilliest routes I could find to prepare for a pancake flat course.  I somehow thought that because that calculator said it, it would happen.

Consequently, I went out a bit too fast.

(snicker snicker... that's probably the understatement of the century right there)

So for those of you looking to FINISH your first race in a way that makes you proud, accomplished, have you smiling at the end, and, probably the most important thing of all, shouting from the rooftops that you are a MARATHONER, might I suggest just taking for what it is?

A 26.2 mile learning experience.

Because nothing you ever do before hand will prepare you for the things that will happen on race day.  Some of you will go out and have a PERFECT DAY.  Some of you will not.  There is no telling which of you will fall into one category or the other.  But at the end of the day, if you run your happy pace for the first 20 miles or so, you will finish the race, and you will be a MARATHONER.

AND no one, and I mean this, even an elite level athlete, is going to EVER say, "oh, you only ran your first marathon in XYZ amount of time?"  No I assure you, what people will say when you mention that you ran a marathon is:

"Holy CARP, seriously?  YOU are AMAZING!  Did you know that only less than 1% of the population will ever do that?"


Kim (Book Worm Runs) said...

Thanks for this! :) My goal is definitely just to finish with a big smile on my face!

Heather -Momma Running Amok said...

I feel like you may have been writing this to me? ...a week 1/2 too late? yeah yeah I know I finished and I need to be happy with my time. I paced myself quite crappy...BUT I finished and now I get to move on and take all of your AMAZING advice and find my inner speed demon!

ann said...

great advice! I finished my first marathon on Halloween - marine corp. You cannot run that without being motivated and inspired by all the marines that run it.

I did not finish in the time I wanted - but I finished! I will always have that to brag about :)

Amy W said...

Delurking to say thanks for this! I am running my first marathon in less than two weeks, and am feeling very unprepared and have no idea what pace I should "try" to run.

Katie said...

Thanks for the advice and the comment on my blog. I have stressed about my pace and I had a feeling that it should fall somewhere around a 10:30/11:00 mile . . . I consistently run my long runs somewhere between thouse paces and I feel good afterwards and I feel fine the next day.

I love hearing advice from marathon veterans! Sorry you cannot run National!

Pam said...

Awesome advice!

(Do you follow Kate? She BQ'd in her FIRST MARATHON yesterday! How's that for awesome???)

Margie said...

This is exactly what I needed to read this week! while I'm not training for my first (it's my second), I am worrying way too much about pace and being behind on my plan. Realistically, I need to go out there to have fun and make sure that last time's amazing finish wasn't a fluke. Thank you thank you!

Meredith said...

I'm going to have to remember this post and read it again in June when I run my 1st.

Run with Jess said...

Fabulous!! Thanks for this post... going for my first marathon in October!

Disney_Casey said...

Great advice!!

Oh please stop by my blog tomorrow as I will have an award for you!

Anne said...

Thanks for this awesome post! I've definitely noted that many many people end up taking longer than they expected when they run a first marathon. I'm trying really hard to not set the bar too high. Finishing with a smile on my face would be great...under 5 hours would be awesome! :)