Advice for New Marathoners-to-be

Resolutions and goals are flying. In the past several weeks I’ve gotten text messages, Facebook messages and emails about half marathon and marathon training. Most of them contain the same questions: what do I need? What are compression socks? Do I need xyz?

So, I thought it the perfect time to share my top pieces of advice for people thinking about training for and completing their first half or full marathon this year.

1. Get the right shoes. Seems simple enough, you go pick some shoes in a color you like. At least that is what I thought when I first started running. To get the right shoes, go to a store where they will analyze your gait and arch. From there they will make sure you are fitted in the right shoe to provide you with the support and stability you need to prevent injuries.

2. Find a good training plan. I only use the Less is More Plan because it works for me. Hal Higdon has some great beginner plans that I often tell people to look at. You don’t have to run every day, or even fives day/week unless you want to and can do so without an overuse injury.

3. Be careful about increasing mileage too quickly. The golden rule is not to increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. For example, if you ran 10 miles last week, this week you shouldn’t run more than 11 miles total. The same is a good idea for long runs. I’d say if you’re not already running 10-15 miles/week, build up to that before jumping into training. On that note, you do not have to run every day. In fact cross-training is really important in order to avoid injury.

4. Mind your paces. When I first started running I thought I had to run as fast as I could during every run. It took a few years and some injuries to figure it out. While I use week day runs for speed training, long runs should be at conversation pace. It sounds counter-intuitive I know. If you don’t have a running partner to shoot the breeze with, sing aloud your favorite song as you go. This is my favorite site to figure out the paces for different distances and workouts.

5. Don’t go crazy buying stuff. There is so much stuff for runners these days. New runners are especially vulnerable to the marketing. Even I am prone to getting super excited about the latest gear…until I look at the price. All you really need are good shoes, good socks and proper fuel. A GPS watch is nice, but you can easily use an app on your phone.

6. Practice makes perfect. Practice fueling throughout training. Try all sorts of fuel options from the various gu flavors and brands, to gummies, honey sticks, etc. You never know what will work with your body.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I think one of the big fears I had when starting to train was asking questions that I felt like were stupid. There is no such thing as a stupid question. In fact, if you’re thinking it, someone else has before you.

8. Find a buddy. A running group, your neighbor, a friend. It is more fun to run with someone and have someone to hold you accountable. It also helps keep your long run paces in check.

Very basic tips for that first round of training. What are your best tips?

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