For many runners, a marathon is the ultimate goal. It’s a badge of honour among running friends and the ultimate achievement when it comes to distance. Twenty six and a bit miles is a long way however, and being able to run this far in one go is no mean feat.
A lot of training and hard work is involved in the months before the marathon as well as lifestyle changes such as what you eat and how much rest you’ll need. There are so many things to think about that it’s worth heeding the advice of those who have done it before.
To answer a few common questions from how to avoid injury, whether conditions and back up trainers to demystifying any unfounded petroleum jelly dangers when used as a skin protector, here’s 7 marathon tips that every first time marathon runner should know.
1 – Use a training plan
It may sound obvious, but many people try to train for a marathon on their own. They do consistent runs and no doubt increase their distance, but in reality, getting to the full marathon length requires a tried and tested plan. Either talk to a personal trainer or use a published and well-respected marathon training routine.
You’ve got to do this properly to avoid injury and get there in the end. Often, there are aspects of marathon training that are overlooked that can greatly improve long distance and endurance levels that may surprise some. A good example of this is sprint training.
2 – Avoid the chaff
As anyone who has run a marathon will tell you, chaffing is no joke. The rub of your nipples or thighs can really start to hurt and distract you from the run. Luckily there are things you can do to avoid this. Many people ask ‘is petroleum jelly safe to use on dry skin’ and the answer is yes.
Vaseline goes through a triple-purification process to remove impurities, which means it’s safe and ideal for soothing dry and sensitive skin.
Apply it to your nipples and thighs before the race starts and reapply as necessary at pit stops as you go round. It is also a great idea to have Vaseline on hand for your training sessions if you are prone to chaffing.
Not only do your training sessions serve to help you progress with your running, but they also serve to help you identify things like chaffing, blisters and hot spots. So use your training sessions to address these potentially debilitating nasties.
3 – Stay Hydrated
This may sound obvious but it is surprising how many people don't follow this important rule. Make sure you are consistently sipping water throughout the day. This should be common practice in everyday life anyway, but if you are training for a marathon, you will need more fluids than the average person.
Its advisable to drink good old fashioned water as your fluid of choice for correct hydration as most energy drinks, cordials etc have added sugar and other additives which not only dehydrates you but also adds unwanted toxins into your system.
On race day, you should take on fluids with electrolytes added but should only see these as a supplement rather than your main fluid source.
4 – Train in different weather conditions
Be prepared to run in all weathers. If you always decide to postpone your training when its raining or when its too cold for example, there's a good chance that you will be disappointed and unprepared on race day as the race day will no postpone. You should train in all whether if possible as there are some things that you don't expect.
An example of this is that some runners report that the cold air can cause their chest to become tight in the early stages of a running session, this is alleviated by slowing the pace initially and building up to their normal running speed a little slower.
Learning how your body reacts to different weather conditions and adapting your running to combat this could be the difference between crossing the finish line and not crossing it.
5 – Make sure to have back-up trainers
There’s nothing more off-putting that losing or breaking your trusty trainers in the week before a big race. To avoid this fate make sure to have a second pair that you know you can run well in and have them on standby just in case.
Most well versed long distance runners tend to stick to a certain make/ model of trainer as they become accustomed to the build when it comes to heal strike and running technique. It may take you a while to find your make and model but it is certainly worth doing the research before hand.
Visit a sports or running specialist shop and ask for advice, when you do find your perfect running footwear, get two pairs and alternate these on your running sessions as you should never attempt a marathon/ half marathon in a brand new pair of trainers. This would be asking for trouble.
6 – Watch out for paving stones and uneven ground
Getting injured is the worst. It can disrupt your training routine and even stop you participating in the race. Prevent this happening by being extra vigilant about cracks in the paving stones and uneven curbs. Its always a good idea to perform a few mobility movements before any training session.
Rolling your ankles, knees and hips for a few minutes before your run and a few minutes into your training sessions can really help to prevent injuries if you do happen to miss your footing, slip or trip during your run.
7 – Inspect your body for injuries daily
Make sure to be vigilant against all kinds of injuries. Sores to the skin and blisters on the feet tend to emerge gradually after long work outs, so when you finish be sure to inspect for any problem areas.
People who wonder about petroleum jelly dangers, should know that, in fact, this is a safe substance to use on dry skin that’s rubbing against your trainers or clothes. Apply it at the first signs of trouble to head off any sores down the line.
These are 7 marathon tips for first time marathon runners. While the preparation can be onerous, that feeling of achieving your goals when you cross the finish line will make everything worth it in the end.
If you found this article useful and would like to learn more – Here is a more comprehensive guide