I’ve found disclosing my race training status to friends and acquaintances is a lot like telling people you’re going to do natural childbirth. People generally have one of three reactions:
- I could never do that!
- My cousin/sister/aunt/neighbor did that and (insert horrible experience here.)
- Wow! You’re nuts.
There’s also a comparable amount of first-timer advice out there, although it’s a relief to know this time it’s not as high stakes. I feel confident in the amount of training I have done so far, but it’s still tempting to read the advice of others, so I thought I’d share an amalgam of the weirdest, most common, and intriguing things I have read from former first-time marathoners.
Most Common Advice
- Don’t do anything different on race day. This is so true, and I know because I have made this mistake before! You may have a really great idea for your gear or fuel during race week and want to throw it in there, but if you haven’t tested it, don’t do it.
- Don’t set a time goal. Sorry, I have to. I do have a high-end and low-end goal, though, so I’m not being inflexible. For me, training would mean nothing without a goal.
- Don’t go out too fast. This may be hard, but I have heard there’s a crowd at the race I am doing, so sheer numbers may keep me from blowing it in the first mile.
- Wear a trash bag. This is suggested as a cheap and disposable way to keep warm while waiting for the start and until you warm up, but I think I’d rather just get a sweatshirt at Goodwill that I can toss once I warm up.
- Have a spectator plan. A spectator plan? It would be great if I got to see my husband and three girls along the way, but I’m not going to count on it. Kids are unpredictable, and I need my head in the game.
- Write your name on your bib. I have been at races where your name is printed on your bib, and no one calls you by name. There’s just no reason to unless you know the person.
Best New Advice
- Hydrate early and often. I discovered after a few hard shorter runs in training that you have to fuel before you need it. This is great advice and makes a world of difference in how the miles feel.
- Dress 20 degrees cooler than it is. Again, planning on purchasing throw-away clothing to compensate for this factor.
- “Memento Mori.” This is my new motto: “Remember you will die.” Hopefully not during the race, of course, but we all will, and we don’t know when. Maybe I’ll get another marathon, another chance to make better time, but we don’t know the future. If this is the only time I get to run a marathon, I want to run the hell out of it.