Running A Marathon? Tips For First Timers


Now-a-days we come across articles about how people are actively participating in marathon running and how proud they feel to reach the finish line. Unlike earlier, where people were a little skeptical about running a marathon, the current generation believes in trying it out. So if you are among those people who are planning to run a marathon or have prepped up for running but wondering how to go about it on the D-day, then here are a few tips to help you cross that finish line in a style!

We all know that running a marathon requires a lot of dedication and planning from a long time. You can’t achieve the feat if you have been running for a month. Most people prep up from a year while others start slow but it does require intense training for at least a few months. The hard work and extensive training that you have been doing from last few months might go down the drain if you do not prepare properly a day prior to the event. It goes without saying that a day before the marathon might be very stressful for the runners. So here we have Dr. Santosh Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai to give you a quick checklist of the last minute do’s and don’ts to keep in mind if you are running a marathon. 

1. Eat an early dinner

A day before your marathon, make sure you eat your meals, especially your dinner, a bit early, preferably by 7 to 8 pm. Make sure your meals is loaded with carbohydrates such as a good portion of dal and rice or dal and roti, which is sufficient for Indian runners. This is to provide you with ample energy for the next day. Also, most people tend to skip their meals which is not a good idea as it leaves you with no energy to run a marathon the next day. Avoid any alcoholic beverages a day before the race for a successful stint. Moreover, early dinner means sleeping early which in turn can help you to rise early for the run. 

2. Have a light breakfast

Never leave your house on an empty stomach. This is because, you may not only feel lethargic in the middle of the run but also fail to complete the run due to lack of energy. On the other hand, do not indulge in heavy breakfast as it may prevent you from running fast. Hence, it is advised to have a light breakfast such as fruits like apple and banana or protein shakes to help you get started.

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3. Pack your essential the night before

Most often than not, we tend to forget about packing the essentials the night before and end up missing out on the key things. But when you are running a marathon, it is important to have all the essential gear for the running because if you don’t have one, you may end up being eliminated from the run. So it is always a good idea to pack your essential running gear such as socks, shoes, bib and watch, before going to bed. This not only saves you time in the morning but also prevents you from the last minute worries about missing out on any key requirement for the run.

4. Reach the track well in advance

Make sure you reach the event well before time. If you reach the race track an hour before the start time, then you will have enough time to warm up. A 30 minutes warm up before the race can not only help you to increase your pace slowly and steadily but also provide you the initial kick to start the run and lower the risk of injuries. It also helps you to get to a comfortable speed and keep it consistent till you reach the finish line.

5. Keep yourself hydrated

A marathon runner’s performance is highly enhanced when the runner is adequately hydrated.  “When training for a marathon, runners must drink water at regular intervals. This is to avoid dehydration especially with such variables like warm weather, running intensity, rate of sweating. Dehydration is common, leads to muscle cramps due to fluid and electrolyte loss and so must be avoided,” says Dr. Santosh Dora. 

Consume at least 500 ml of fluid two hours before exercise so as to give your body enough time to get rid of excess ingested water. Make sure you drink water every time an aid station comes. Try and have 100 to 150 ml of water or sports drink every half an hour. 

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6. Keep a check on your health

It is very important to be attentive to your body as running a marathon for the first time can lead to various health problems. You may feel dehydrated, which should not be ignored. Some symptoms of dehydration are feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, sunken eyes, dry mouth, thirst, and headache. Alternatively, if you feel tired then slow down. If your chest pains or you experience dizziness, then seek immediate medical assistance. 

Running a marathon requires months of dedication and training. But if you fail to follow the guidelines or do not train well even a few days prior to the event it might become difficult to be successful on your first run. So don’t worry but keep these simple tips in mind and get all geared up for your marathon. All the best for your first run!

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Swati Mishra, Medical Editor)

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