Running Your First Marathon

It has been quite a while my friends! More like months! I am still alive & well. From my last post from the New York City Marathon, I have become a 2x ultramarathon runner (Blog to follow on that experience soon) and I have ran many more marathons and even made a big move from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest! Fortunately, I will be coming back home this weekend for a marathon that I hold close to my heart, The San Francisco Marathon.

Frankly- I just want to say thank you to everyone who used my discount code for this race. I am completely honored to be an ambassador and I have many many friends who are running their first marathon this Sunday. I will be running on behalf of San Francisco Parks & Recreation. I teamed up with my previous employer, the City & County of San Francisco, and raised $500 for this organization. Hopefully I get to see some friendly faces this weekend. In the meantime, here are some tips I gathered for my first time marathoners:

1. Eat Plenty of Carbohydrates

As you've been doing before your long training runs, you should be eating about 70% of your calories from carbs in the days leading up to your race. Don't you dare stuff yourself at dinner the night before either! Carbo-loading does not mean that you should eat three plates of pasta for dinner. Just keep in mind that too much loading can lead to a lot of unloading during the race. Eat amounts of food that you would normally eat, but eat a greater percentage of carbs. My go to is a linguine with clams dish with very light sauce! I even scarf down one beer (Lagunitas IPA is my drink of choice) since beer has the right amount of carbs (for me), but remember, nothing new the night before! Which leads to my next point....

 2. Avoid Any Unusual Foods. 

Stick with foods that have worked well for you before your training runs. This also goes for hydration/gels during the race. Nothing new on race day! You never know how your stomach may react and during a marathon is the worse place to find out!

3. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you're hydrating properly, your urine should be light yellow. I also like to fuel with electrolytes too. My favorite is Nuun and it helps that all flavors are awesome! 

4. Don't Overdo It

Stay off your feet, rest and relax. When you go to the race expo to pick up your race packet, don't spend hours walking around and eating free food samples. Spending too much time on your feet will tire you out. And if you do need to walk around, make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes or running shoes.

5. Go for a Short Run, If You Need It

You're not going to lose any fitness by resting the day before your full marathon. But if you typically get pre-race anxiety, or you feel like you need to stay loose, it might be beneficial for you to do a very slow, 20-minute run the day before. If you do run, keep your thoughts positive and keep telling yourself that you're ready for your race. Whatever you do, make sure that you don't do a significant workout that's going to leave you feeling tired or sore the next day.

6. Trim Your Toenails

Check your toenails and clip any that are too long. Keeping your toenails neat and short will prevent them from hitting the front of your shoes, which can lead to bloody or black toenails!

7. Get Your Clothing and Gear Ready

Lay out all your clothing and gear for the race the night before (even take a picture and post it if that makes you feel jazzy!) Essential items include:

  • Race Bib and safety pins
  • Running outfit, hat, shoes, socks
  • Watch
  • Race Fuels (energy gels)
  • Sunscreen
  • Petroleum jelly/body glide to prevent chafing
  • Dry clothes to change into afterwards (usually keep in your check in)

8. Stay Relaxed

Use visualization techniques while you're relaxing during the day or even go to a yoga class! Envision yourself on the course. Think positively about all the work you've put into your training. 

9. Plan Breakfast

Make sure you have everything you need for breakfast. Don't assume that you'll be able to get certain foods at the race start—it's better to be prepared and know you already have your food with you. Again, you should be eating foods that you tried out before your long training runs. My go to is black coffee and a banana! 

10. Review the Course Map

You probably received a copy of the course map in your race packet. (If not, you could always look on the race website.) Even if you've already looked at the map (including the elevation map), review it one more time, so you'll know what to expect. It's always good to know where you'll hit some hills and how frequent the water stops and porta-potties are.

11. Get Inspired

Watch a movie or read a book that you find inspiring. Get some inspiration from even googling "Running a Marathon quotes" online. I like to watch my go to Youtube video for inspiration. Check it out here

12. Plan Your Trip to the Start

Make sure you know exactly how you're getting to the start line and that you're anticipating any problems, like road closures. If you're driving to the start, make sure you have the right directions and know where you can park nearby. Give yourself plenty of time, so you're not nervous that you'll miss the start if something unexpected happens. If you're taking public transportation, do your research to see if there's any potential for delays. If using Uber/Lyft, be prepared for an expensive ride! 

13. Don't Stress About Lack of Sleep

Don't worry if you can't sleep the night before your full marathon; most people do not sleep well the night before. One sleepless night is very unlikely to hurt your performance. Two nights before your race is the most important night of rest. The excitement and adrenaline rush from race day will give you enough energy for your race.


14. Plan to Get Up Early

Set your alarm clock and double check it. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, and get to the race start early. If you're staying in a hotel, request a wake-up call, just to be safe.


My friends-
I hope these tips help get you through the next few days until you toe the start line of the San Francisco Marathon! You took on a challenge that most people wouldn’t even consider trying, and you are going to conquer it! You found the will to run at odd hours of the morning, before work, after work and even in freezing temperatures. You became more disciplined and dedicated than ever before. You changed your lifestyle, your priorities, and your mindset. You committed to an ambitious goal and persevered to the end. Soak it all in. Remember how you feel when you catch the first glimpse of the finish line, when the cheers of the crowd renew your strength, when the tears well up (BECAUSE YOU WILL CRY!) and when you hit 26.2 miles and suddenly share a newfound camaraderie with other runners.

Cheers to my first time marathoners, my seasoned marathoners and all the friends and family members who will be cheering. It takes a bunch of blood, sweat, tears and hard work to run a marathon. Here's to my number 19!