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First Time Marathon - Final Tips

Oct 24, 2023

If this is your first marathon, you are probably already overwhelmed by all the conflicting advice you have been given this week. From the media, to your work colleagues, everyone seems to be an expert on marathon running. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information.

Its important now that you stop reading up about all the things you could have done a few weeks ago. Now is the time to rest, relax and prepare yourself mentally for the day ahead. 

It’s less than a week until the marathon. Lets keep it simple. 

How to enjoy marathon day

1. Wear your name on your T-shirt : Trust me. The support will carry you through tough bits. (Although its wasted if you are wearing headphones as no one calls your name as they assume you can’t hear them!)

2. Take it all in – nothing beats the ‘First’ Marathon feeling. This will be your fastest marathon, it may also be your only marathon. Aim to enjoy it. That should be the first priority.

3. Think Tall and Relaxed – When feeling tired, practice your Running Posture and remember any running technique tips you have worked on. Whenever you are tired, go back to basics and think about being tall through your body, but relaxed through arms and legs. 

4. Start Slowly – no medals for the first 10k. It’s so easy to get carried away by the atmosphere at the start line. Your first mile will feel very easy, and its tempting to run faster. Don’t. It will catch up with you later. Decide in advance the pace you will run your first mile – and stick to it !

5. Trust your Training – Dont compare yourself to anyone else. No two runners have had the same path to the marathon, so you cannot compare training, times or result. We all overcome different obstacles on our marathon journey. There will always be faster runners (who do less training than you). The only competition is with yourself.

6. Don’t stress about the time it takes – Do you really want to finish your first marathon and feel disappointed with yourself ? Make sure any time goal you set is realistic, and not based on someone elses time. There is always the next marathon to beat your time. You don’t know how your body is going to feel at 22 miles – so be sensible and realistic.

7. Break it into small chunks  Dont overwhelm yourself with the numbers. Take it one mile at a time. Only think about the mile that you are in. Avoid stressing about whats ahead. You will have plenty of time to worry about 20 miles when you get there.

8. Be grateful – you are so lucky to be able to do this – enjoy it ! There are so many people who would love to be in a position to run a marathon. You are one of the lucky ones. Appreciate the fact you can line up at the start line. That, in itself, is a privilege.

9. Smile : If you are feeling tired, stiff, in pain, nervous, anxious or generally overwhelmed along the route just slow down , relax and smile. Its amazing what a smile can do to trick the body into feeling better. Not only that, more people cheer you when you smile, your body will relax, and you might just start to feel better !

10. Manage the doubts :  There will probably come a point in the marathon where you want to stop, where you wonder why you are doing this and where you feel your confidence decrease. Accept this is going to happen at some point, but I promise it’s a temporary dip. Plan in advance what you are going to say to yourself when this happens. And practice saying it to yourself. The wave of negativity will pass, but you can help this by reminding yourself of the hard work you have put in, and picturing yourself feeling strong and finishing the race.

So now you got a plan for race day...

It's Time for the Race Expo

Arriving at the Dublin Marathon Race Expo is the moment where you might feel the real wave of emotions. The marathon is real. You are actually running a marathon! 

It’s the first sight of the runners leaving the expo with the race bags as you arrive in Ballsbridge, the buzz as you enter the hall, the lump in your throat as you get handed your race number with a smile and the good luck wishes of a smiling stranger behind the desk. It hits you. There is no going back now.  After all the training its finally here!

How the expo works: When you arrive you land right into the main hall full of stands. To your right, there is a stairs up to the race number collection point. (well, it used to be like that, it might be different this year). My advice would be to go up there first, get your number, collect your goodie bag and look then take a little bit of time to look around.  Be sensible, dont spend the whole day walking around.

 My Main Tips for the Expo

– Dont buy anything new to wear (or eat) on Marathon Day : Buy whatever you wish. But, remember the main rule. Anything you buy at this expo should not be worn on race day. Simple. Even if it is the same brand or style as you are used to, it is not worn in and may cut or chaff and destroy your marathon. 

– Go Friday if you can  : This will give you all Saturday to relax, and you will be able to know you have everything you need, you can read the material, pack your bags and be confident you have everything. (also a better selection of clothing etc if you are tempted by some impulse buys!)

– What to Bring: Bring ID, Race number Confirmation Slip, Money for impulse buys!

– Keep Calm : You will see lots of ‘athletes’ and also lots of people wearing tracksuits, country colours and a surprisingly large amount of people looking like they are dressed to go running. I’m not sure why! Wear comfy clothes and shoes. Dont be intimidated thinking you are going to be last to finish the marathon as everyone else looks so professional. They are not.

-Don’t be brainwashed :  The expo can be quite overwhelming. So many ‘experts’ in everything there, and remember they are all there to sell their wares, and with so many specials deals, discount offers, free samples, Its easy to get carried away. Its also very easy to start thinking you have missed out on huge components of your training, when you see gadgets and running items you have never even heard about.

 Talks / Seminars : Lots of interesting speakers , but once again, dont panic if they are talking about something you have not done in your training. Trust your own training. A really good talk to listen to is the one where they walk you through the route.

-The History of the marathon : Check out the mini marathon museum down the back which show photos of the history of the marathon and is very inspirational.

Its all ahead of you - It’s time to get excited. Its almost marathon weekend !

I look forward to seeing you along the way! 


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