running a marathon
photo: iStock/Pavel1964

There are plenty of reasons to set your fitness sights to completing a marathon. Perhaps you're ready to take your workout routine to the next level, or perhaps you're jealous of those post-marathon brunch photos plaguing your Instagram and you want in. Whatever your reasoning, we give you tons of finger snaps for pushing yourself toward a pretty noble goal.

But before you lace up your running kicks, you need to prep for the physical toll a marathon can take on your body, especially as a first-timer. Lindsay Meyers, managing editor of The Active Times and marathon runner, has a few prep tricks to help you own that marathon like a real running boss. Just follow her lead with the tips below! 


Start slow

"Run the first two to three miles 10 to 15 seconds per mile slower than goal pace. This stores energy so you’ll be able to finish the race strong."


Do a half-marathon

"Completing a good half marathon, and running it slightly faster than your marathon training pace, can help you get in the right physical and mental state for the big race you're working toward."


Set healthy expectations

photo: Giphy

"This is your first [marathon] so just enjoy it. Soak in all the energy of the spectators; don’t focus on breaking records. Set a realistic time goal but have fun. Lots of things can happen on race day — stomach problems, wind, rain, injury. Aim for a strong finish, meaning the second half should be faster so start out slowly."


Practice taking in calories and fluids is crucial

"Not all formulas work for everyone so you’ll need to try different gels and nutrition to see what works best for you. Your body will need the calories and you don’t want to find out the hard way that your body won’t absorb what you are feeding it."


Don’t wear anything new on race day

"Yes, you want to look good, but feeling good is way more important. Try on your new outfit and run in it. Body Glide and Vaseline are your friends to avoid blisters and chafing. DON’T wear new sneakers."


Taper your training

photo: Giphy
"Follow your plan. Rest is key when your training is done. One more long run or a few short ones are not going to help at this point. Let your body recover and cut back on training and intensity. Have faith in the work that you’ve put in and enjoy taking it easy."

Review the course

"Download the course map and do a training run on it. Mentally run it a few times before race day so you know what to expect. It will help you get physically and emotionally ready to tackle the race."


Avoid unnecessary stress

"Get there early on race morning. Make a list and check it twice. Have your nutrition plan. Go to the bathroom. Meditate and just breathe."


Carbo-load, don't fat-load

photo: Giphy
"During the last three days, concentrate on eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and fruit juice, low-fat milk and yogurt, low-fat treats, and sports drinks. It’s the carbs, not the fat or protein, that will fuel you on race day."

Drink early, drink often

"Start drinking water or energy drink a few miles into the run and at every aid station after. Taking in fluids early will help postpone or prevent serious dehydration or carbohydrate depletion later and will lead to a better and stronger race."