What I Learned From My First Marathon

As many of you know, I have spent the entire Summer and first months of Fall training for my first marathon. When I ran my first half marathon last year I posted What I Learned From My First Half Marathon.  I wanted to do a similar post on what I learned from my first marathon!

It’s so funny to compare the differences from what I learned from my first half marathon and my first full marathon. I honestly learn something new about myself, about racing, about being prepared and trying new things every race. 

1) Hydration is Key – Staying hydrated throughout training, especially the week of the race, and throughout race day is super important. During the race specifically you want to drink before you are thirsty – because when you start getting thirsty, then its too late!

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Depending on race day temperature this can change drastically but I always run with water. That’s how I roll.

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2)Fuel, Fuel, Fuel! – Running a marathon is an entirely different beast from any other race and it takes the importance of fueling and hydrating to a whole new level. Just like staying hydrated before you are thirsty, I made a conscious effort to keep fueling throughout the race and take in calories before I was hungry. chi 563

Shot blocks and Gu didn’t really cut it for me towards the end of the race so I had to take in some solid food. I had a banana and some pretzels and I would have had a few pieces of chocolate had I met up with my family around mile 20 (they were holding some for me).

It’s important to try out different food combinations before you race to know what works for you and what doesn’t! That’s what long training runs are for 🙂

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3) The week of the race is just as important as the day of the race! The entire week before my first marathon I made a serious effort to eat right and fuel my body with what will help me out the most come race day. Lots of fruits, veggies and grains for me – and no alcohol!

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4) Put your feet up! This was the hardest thing for me to do the days leading up to the race because I was in a new city with my family and I wanted to see the sights.

I got to do a lot of fun things during my trip to Chicago but always in the back of my mind I was weary to walk around too much or do too much because I wanted to rest up for the big race!

Next time I race in a new place and plan a trip around my travels there I might think about staying for a few days after the race to see the sights without worrying about it affecting my race day performance.

5) Put your name on your race shirt!

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Making this shirt was the best decision I made before the race. Like I said in my marathon recap, having people cheer my name and congratulate me for running my first marathon made the experience even more awesome than it already was!

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6) Bring a solid support system! I know my first marathon experience would not have been as awesome as it was without my Superfans in their super shirts! Knowing that I was going to be able to see them a few times throughout the race made every mile a little easier for me and it gave me something to look forward too!

Thanks so much for coming family! 🙂


7) Treat Yourself – After any big accomplishment (and a marathon is a BIG accomplishment in my book!) I really believe in treating myself. Cupcakes pretty much make everything better for me – and the fact that it was Spa Week in Philadelphia the day I got back from Chicago, so a half price massage helped ease my post running 26.2 miles pain.

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8) RICE – After running 26.2 miles, I was definitely a little sore, but nowhere near as bad as I thought I was going to be. I am a massive fan of the RICE method – Rest Ice Compression Elevation – which I use after most of my long runs and races.

I am a big fan of a good ice bath after my runs and it really helps in speeding my recovery. This was no different for after my marathon – I was still sore after it the next day, but the ice bath made a HUGE difference in how I felt and my walking abilities on Monday.

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Compression and Elevation are something I like to pair together. I wear my compression socks and put my feet up to increase circulation.

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These are just a few of the many things I learned while running my first marathon this past weekend. It was an amazing experience, one I won’t forget anytime soon!


What are some important things that you have learned from any races you have run?

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  • Reply Nichole October 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I love all these tips!! Always great to hear what works for others.

    RICE – amen! I actually tried gels with caffeine and I really thought they helped.

  • Reply shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama October 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I love all your photos! And your shirt and your supports shirts are awesome.

    Great tips! You really learned a lot.

  • Reply Kris October 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Great job with your marathon!! I LOVE your shirt and your fan club's shirts!!

    I made the mistake of not looking at the terrain of my half marathon. Helloooo hills! Since I run at sea level, this was a HUGE issue during the race!

    I also wore too much clothing.. I dressed for the weather at 630 am, not considering it would warm up considerably and I'd be running for over 2 hours! Rookie mistakes!

    Also, how did you carry a banana with you??

  • Reply ladypurpl October 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Great tips for anyone who runs! You were smart in your training and especially for race day! Again, CONGRATS TO YOU!

  • Reply Rebecca October 15, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I learned about fueling so I don't bonk in the first marathon I ran. I love my compression socks, they are too hot for me to run in so I get them on pretty quick after a run.

    My friend saw your family at the race and they liked the mother, father, fiance, etc identifiers on the back. Great shirts!

  • Reply Kelly Olexa October 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    First of all, congratulations!! So exciting. And I LOVE reading what you learned, I'm now going to read what you learned after your first 1/2 marathon since I'm doing mine on 12/5 in Vegas. 😉 LOVE the shirts too!!
    WAY TO GO!!!!!

  • Reply Anonymous October 20, 2010 at 6:36 am

    I hae really enjoyed your posts over the past few months. Thanks for taking the time to share them. 10-10-10 in Chicago was my first Marathon too. Amazing experience (despite the heat).
    Congratulations on your accomplishment and thanks again for sharing!

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