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3 Things I Wish I Did Before I Ran My First Marathon

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Yep, not my most flattering photo out there

Yep, not my most flattering photo out there

In case you haven't figured it out yet, the above photo was me, after almost six hours of running/walking, on my first-ever marathon. This was in February 2020, during the time when COVID-19 was just starting to reveal its wrath to the world.

Yes, I trained for my first marathon (thanks to Jeff Galloway's method). But I never planned on running (and lots of walking... okay, some crying included) a marathon for more than seven hours.

I did finish my first marathon victoriously, albeit a veeeeeeeery slow 7 hours and 33 minutes. I almost didn't make it to the 8-hour cut-off, but who cares! I just ticked something off my bucket list... and I will do this again, and then some more!

Things I Should Have Done Differently for My Marathon

Looking back at my official race photos, my entire marathon experience was one for the books. Months of training and meeting new friends were the highlights of that unforgettable experience.

However, there was also a part of me that was not satisfied. I could've done better and cut my running time in half. Reflecting on my experience, I should have done some things differently–may this be a lesson for those who are planning to run their first marathon!

Mandatory pre-race marathon OOTD (outfit of the day) flat lay

Mandatory pre-race marathon OOTD (outfit of the day) flat lay

1. I Should Not Have Used New Shoes on Marathon Day

My husband bought me new shoes as somewhat of a Christmas gift for me. I thought I would use my new shoes on the marathon day itself.

Boy, that was one of the worst decisions I have ever made in my life.

Lesson learned: NEVER use new shoes on marathon day. Either you use the shoes you've been training on for months or ensure to break in the new shoes before marathon day.

The same applies to leggings, running shorts, or whatever you are planning to wear on the big day.

Anyway, make sure to find shoes that fit your feet as well. Check out this list if you are looking for the best running shoes for a marathon. Find out if you have wide or narrow feet, which is also an important factor in choosing the right marathon shoes.

Meanwhile, don't forget to apply petroleum jelly on your feet, inner thighs, and nipples before running to prevent chafing. Yes, including your nips. Unless you want to end up with a bloody bra or shirt after the race.

2. I Should Not Have Gone So Fast at the Start

Another lesson learned is that NEVER go too fast in the first few kilometers or miles. Remember that marathon running is not about speed (unless you're Eliud Kipchoge), but a test of your endurance.

In other words, the main goal of marathon running is to last 42 kilometers or 26.2 miles of running/walking. To do that, you must conserve your energy and keep it going until you reach the finish line.

And no, it is not a sin to walk in a marathon. It can even help you finish a marathon faster than you think. Most importantly, you will suffer little to none of the major injuries (except sore thighs and calves afterward, but no biggie!).

Obviously not me.

Obviously not me.

3. I Should Have Thought About My Food Intake and Sleep Schedule

Proper nutrition is important before running a marathon. Eating carbs and protein, and staying hydrated are crucial in finishing a marathon. Even if there are hydration stations in most running events, make sure to bring your own, too.

There is also a thing called carb-loading, which is also important when you are running long distances. Rice, bread, and pasta are carb-rich foods that will help fuel your run and secure a successful finish. Make sure to plan your meals days or weeks before your race day.

You also have an excuse to enjoy your proteins the more you get closer to marathon day. These will help build your muscles to endure the grueling race. So go ahead and enjoy your burger or steak before your run.

A Note About Energy Gels

There are energy gels available in the market intended for intense activities such as marathon running. While these can be effective in increasing your running energy and stamina, not everyone may have a positive experience using such supplements.

So if you are planning to try energy gels for your next run, make sure to acclimate yourself first to it. NEVER take one during the race or you might end up with a messed-up stomach in the middle of your important event.

In my case, I never took gels or drank coffee before or during a run. Only water, Pocari Sweat, or Gatorade. I am not used to drinking coffee anyway, so I didn't risk it!

Get Some Rest!

Don't forget your beauty sleep, too. A lack of sleep can make you dizzy during intense activities. I've been there, and never shall I let it happen again. It was hecka scary! So go ahead and take your time to rest your body and mind a few days before the race day.

My Last Marathon? Heck NO!

I know I am not the fastest runner nor even look like a "runner." All my life, I have been on the heavy side and never had a sport back then. Now, I consider running as my sport.

I also had my regrets following my momentous achievement. But it’s still an achievement, right? It's not easy to run a marathon, for crying out loud!

One thing is for sure, though: it won’t be my last marathon. I will run a half-marathon though this coming March 2023. Yes, my running journey is just beginning. Good luck with yours!

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2023 Giselle R