My first marathon was an accidental run. Unplanned and involuntary. My friend enrolled my name for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2011 and that’s how my running journey started.
Come to the D-Day, I was anxious and add to that my friend who enrolled me into this, could not make for the run. So, I was on my own. With the nervousness getting over my head, I had almost thought to quit. However, maybe fate has some other plans.
I ran my first Marathon in January 2011. And today, I have been a part of 50 plus races. What happened as an accident, has now become my passion. Every marathon has been an experience. Trust me you will learn something new with your every run.
Let me tell you that my first marathon was a DNF (Did not finish). Yes, I could not finish the marathon. But it was a great beginning as I discovered peace in my first run. I realized myself in those 26.2 miles.
“Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself, you can learn in 26.2 miles – Lori Culnane”
The learning I had from my first marathon are the golden lessons which till date I am following on or before every marathon.
Here is the list of key lessons I learned from my first Marathon:
1. Proper training plan
This is the biggest mistake I did. And in fact, most of the first-time runners do the same. A proper training plan is a must before you decide to run a marathon.
The focus should be more on strength training. Also, you need to train your joints, esp. knees. Be the best friend of your knees and they will be your perfect run companion. Your training plan can also include various other exercises like yoga, meditation, cycling, swimming, etc.
Now, its easier said than done.
You will also require a lot of determination and motivation to stick to your plan. So, have a strategy in place for that also.
And finally, keep practicing. As it is said, the more you sweat during practice, the less you bleed during the race.
2. Listen to your heartbeat
This point is my personal favourite. Let this 26.2 miles be yours. Allow yourself to listen to your heartbeat and you will fall in love with the silence. As you progress with the run, this will allow you to be present at the moment. Trust me, you will discover your true self.
So, just disengage with your favorite gadgets on the run day. Switch off your mobiles, drop your earphone and reframe your run.
Also, running without headphones helps to stay alert on the road and aware of the traffic. This also helps to focus more on your body and your thoughts.
3. Always run on the opposite side of the vehicle and Be Visible
One of the important tips I received during my initial training days. During practice, always try to run on the opposite side of the vehicle. This will avoid the chances of you getting hit by the vehicle from behind.
Also, always wear reflecting band/clothing while running in the early morning or late in the evening. This helps in visibility and avoid accidents.
4. Vaseline – Runner’s Sanjeevani booti
After crossing 15 km, I started getting redness and irritation of the skin. This is called chaffing which occurs when you sweat and your skin rubs against clothing or other skin.
A fellow runner suggested me to apply Vaseline on my body and offered a small Vaseline tube. This worked like a wonder and eased my irritation.
Vaseline is Sanjeevani for Runners. Always apply Vaseline in the areas where you feel chaffing and keep one small tub handy while going out for long runs.
Include this in your list of running gears, and you will thank me for this. This little thing can make or break a run.
5. Avoid blisters
Blisters are a common problem for long-distance runners. The cause of blisters can be friction between your skin and socks/shoes if it’s too tight or loose.
Apply Vaseline, on your feet before the run to avoid blisters. You can also tape your fingers before the run; this will lower the chance of getting the blisters. Keep a tape handy while going for long runs.
This needs no explanation. Keep yourself hydrated before and during the run as your body sweats constantly. Always carry a bottle filled with electrolyte whenever you go out for a run.
When you practice for long runs, identify the water stations before the run where you can refill your bottle or try to run in loops.
Remember, as a thumb rule your body needs on an average 600-700 ml per hour, so fuel it properly by keeping it hydrated.
One of the best feeling I got while running my first marathon was the gratitude & motivation shown by fellow marathon runners. Since the day you decide to run a marathon, you will meet people who will encourage you, motivate you, and even come to cheer for you.
You just look around and you will find lot of positivity. On the track, you will find people who don’t even know you, cheering for you. So reciprocate. Show Gratitude to them and your friends and say, ‘Thank you’.
8. Make buddies
Don’t be deadly serious while running. Say Hi to your fellow runners and buddy up during the run.
Make it a point to make a new friend in every marathon.
Your running buddies will not only push and motivate you but also support you through the joys and struggles of running.
9. Listen to your body
Your body will provide all the signals to you. You need to understand those signals and react to them on time. Whenever you feel tired, wait for a couple of seconds, sip some electrolyte, and then start your run.
It is OK to lose those few seconds, rather than risking your life.
10. Don’t experiment anything new on the race day
Please avoid experimenting on your race day. As a habit, people keep the best for the D day. Don’t make this mistake. Just make sure you run with the same gears you had used during your practice. Your running gears include your shoes, t-shirt, your running fuel, etc.
This sums up the learning I had from my first marathon. Please note this is not a definitive list. As I said, with every marathon you will learn something new.
As a final suggestion, if you want to achieve effectiveness, it is useful, to begin with, the end-goal in mind. That will help you to streamline your efforts ensuring that you are always taking steps in the right direction
Thank You for reading it through. I hope the learning I had from my first marathon will help you to smooth your marathon experience.
And in case, you have accomplished your first marathon goal, we are all ears to listen to your experiences and increase our lessons count.
Also, if you find this useful, help us to spread the learning by sharing it.