Fitness, Running Tips

26.2 Things I Learned From Running My First Marathon

Yes, I’m STILL on a runners high from finishing my first marathon back in June! Don’t judge.

And since I’m still on cloud 9 I really wanted to do a follow up post to my Rock ‘N’ Roll Seattle Marathon Race Recap to talk a little more about the mistakes I made during training/ the actual race and also what I think I did pretty darn well.

Just as a warning this is a longggg post but I promise it has some pretty valuable information for runners at any level. 




26.2 Things I Learned From Running My First Marathon:

1. Practice your race day fueling routine- Seriously practice what you eat for dinner the night before a long run, what you eat for breakfast before your run, what you eat during your run (if anything), what form of gu, gels or bloks you’ll fuel with during the race..etc. Nobody want’s an upset stomach during their first marathon or any race for that matter.

2. Have a support team- There will be many times throughout training where you’re going to want to quit. I am so thankful my family, friends and fellow bloggers were so incredibly supportive and kept me motivated! Thanks again everyone!

3. Don’t ignore aches and pains- About half way through training my shin splints started to get aggravated and what did I do…totally ignored it. Well they kept getting worse week after week to the point where I couldn’t even walk without feeling pain. I really had to pull back on my training for a few weeks to let them heal which could have been prevented if I addressed it right away.

4. Focus on weekly mileage more than single day distance runs- Most weeks I was running about 30 miles total. A 20 miler, 8 miler and 5 miler…I think cutting back to 16-18 miles for a long run then adding another day of running would have been beneficial.

5. Do speed training- I didn’t do any interval/ speed training at all. All of my runs were done at a pretty slow “marathon” pace. I really think being more well rounded in my training would have helped my stamina come race day.

6. Stay hydrated- Hydrate before, during and after long runs! It’s so important to stay hydrated to prevent fatigue, cramping, headaches…etc. Throughout my training I used Nuun tabs religiously and never had any issues with muscle cramping.

7. Find podcasts you enjoy- You guys! I can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed going out for long runs and listening to a good podcast. Music is great but for me it got old really quick. And dare I say it I would get excited for my long runs each week to listen to new podcast episodes.

8. Eat to run- I mean this is always the best advice for anyone who works out. Eat to run, don’t run to eat! A giant burrito after a 20 mile run does sound delicious but the stomach ache that comes with it is just not worth it. You need to be fueling your body with clean, healthy food your body can use as fuel.

9. Know that your calorie needs are going to chance dramatically- I was not prepared for the calorie demands marathon training brings. WOW. I struggled to keep weight on and realized crap I’m running 20 miles burning 2,000+ calories just from running and only eating like 1,500 calories in the day. I started counting calories to be sure I got 4,000 per day to not lose weight and keep my energy levels high.

10. Say goodbye to your social life- This was one of the hardest parts of training for me. I had to decline happy hours after work, birthday parties on a Friday night, brunch Sunday mornings…etc. I think it’s so important to communicate with friends and family that you’re training for a marathon and for them not to be offended if you’re not around as much. Believe me people will be supportive and totally understand. 

11. Buy proper running shoes- You can’t train for a marathon in your 5 year old running shoes and expect not to get an injury. I highly recommend going to your local running store and getting a gait analysis done to find the perfect shoes for you. If you have high arches, pronate your feet, flat arches…etc you need a shoe to support this to keep you healthy.

12. Eat after a long run- I am someone who feels so sick after running long distances that I can hardly stomach water. I made a few terrible mistakes in training not eating for hours after a long run and got the worst stomach aches, diarrhea, dizziness…etc. ALWAYS have something even if it’s just a simple smoothie or protein bar after a run.

13. Don’t forget to stretch (before and after)- I am pretty good at stretching before a run but after I’m that person who just jumps in my car and goes home. BAD IDEA. You’re running at such a high intensity during marathon training you need to spend at least 10 minutes before and after a run stretching to avoid injury and to keep you feeling good for your next run.

14. Wear sunscreen- It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun but is extra important when you’re going to be running for 3+ hours in direct sunlight. Even if it’s 8:00 am or cloudy you still need to wear sun protection. Take it from me who got a couple terrible burns during training.

15. Have a specific motivation for why you’re running your race- “Just because I felt like it” isn’t going to motivate you at mile 23. Dedicate your race to someone, to a cause or hey even to yourself but really keep that motivation at the front of your mind throughout your race.

16. Practice your race pace goal (and have a race pace goal)- This was my #1 mistake! I ran most of my training runs at about a 10:30/ mile pace and totally expected to run my marathon at that same speed. If you read my marathon race recap you know I started the race WAY faster than I had hoped and ended up running the entire thing much faster than I had practiced. While this sound great I really struggled at the end of the marathon with complete and total muscle fatigue.

17. Celebrate milestones (but not with food or booze)- I’m a Lululemon addict so the first time I ran 15 miles and then 20 miles I treated myself to some new running gear. This post has tons of other ideas for ways to reward yourself without food or booze.

18. Always clip your toe nails before a long run/ the race- Heck yeah I always have clippers in my race bag! There is nothing more painful than a toe nail digging into your skin the entire race or if they’re too long getting jammed into the front of your shoe over and over. AHHH it makes me cringe just thinking about it.

19. Try out different outfits before choosing your race attire-  This sound silly but come race day the last thing you want to be worrying about is that your new running shorts won’t stay up or that your sports bra is uncomfortable. You really want to experiment with different outfits during training to see what’s the most comfortable for race day!

20. Use Bodyglide or Vaseline- I never had any issues with chafing during my long training runs but after my marathon OMG. My arm pits were chafed, under my sports bra was chafed, and totally TMI but my running shorts had a liner in them so my entire inner thigh/butt area was raw. It probably didn’t help it was raining so all my clothes were wet but I highly recommend applying Bodyglide or Vaseline all over your body.

21. Bring extra safety pins- I lost or never got safety pins for my bib at the expo and was freaking out the morning of the race. Really? Such unnecessary stress. I never found an aid station before the race with supplies so thankful some woman was kind enough to give me 2 of her safety pins to attach my bib.

22. Trust your training- I almost lost it standing in the corrals before my race. I was doubting my training, my running ability, my mental ability…etc and started the race with such a crappy mindset of “I don’t think I can do this”. TRUST YOUR TRAINING!!!!! I ran 22 miles as my longest run before my marathon and yes miles 23-26 were challenging but I was prepared for them.

23. Don’t drink and train- I made this mistake 1 time during training. I had a few too many beers the day before a 15 miler and truly thought I was going to die running. You need to stay as hydrated as possible during marathon training and alcohol does the EXACT opposite. Really consider cutting back on drinking during training- it’s only going to make you stronger and make that post race beer taste even better!

24. Monitor your health- I struggled getting sick every few weeks and just felt awful during points in my training. I was so concerned I got blood work done to be sure I wasn’t severely deficient in something/ dying since I’m a total hypochondriac. Turns out I was fine but I started taking a multivitamin specifically for runners that changed my life. I haven’t been sick since I started taking it and feel stronger than ever.  

25.  Create a loose training plan- I didn’t follow any specific training plan for my race and if you want to know more about what I did for my training please visit these posts 1,2,3,4. The most important thing to note here is not to freak out if your training doesn’t go 100% according to plan. If you can’t get a run in for whatever reason don’t burn yourself out trying to make up for it the next week- that’s exactly how you get injured from overtraining!

26. Consider a destination race- Running your first marathon is a HUGE deal and I chose to make mine extra special by doing it in Seattle. Yes, it’s much more expensive to do it this way with hotels, rental cars, flights…etc but it made the entire experience so exciting. PLUS there’s no better way to see a new city than by running 26.2 freakin miles of it. I saw sights in Seattle I never would have seen just doing the typical touristy routine.

26.2- HAVE FUN! Training is VERY difficult both mentally and physically but you have to enjoy the ups and the downs that come with this crazy sport. The entire process of running a marathon is incredible and I promise no matter how stressed you get the feeling of crossing that finish line is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Have fun and enjoy every single second.


Your turn,

Have you ever ran a marathon?

If so, what was one of the most important things you learned from your experience?

Are you currently training for anything?



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  • Reply Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie July 11, 2016 at 6:29 am

    Even though I have never run a full marathon, I found myself nodding my head up & down reading each one and thinking about the half marathons I have run. I love the idea of choosing to make your first full marathon a destination race — I think that builds up the excitement of it and really makes it a memory you won’t ever forget!!
    Brie @ Lean, Clean, & Brie recently posted…Runner’s CrossFit WorkoutMy Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker July 12, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Oh for the rest of my life I’m going to associate Seattle with my first marathon! I liked doing a destination race so much I’ve already been looking into some destination half marathons for the fall! Any excuse to travel!

  • Reply Sarah @ BucketListTummy July 11, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Loving this! Especially in advance for my first marathon this fall. You should be so proud, lady! I completely agree that a good podcast is perfect for a long run. I’ve heard people dedicate each mile to someone or something to stay motivated and I love that idea!
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…Tips to Save Money on GroceriesMy Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker July 12, 2016 at 9:44 am

      I’ve heard that too and love the idea of dedicating each mile to someone or maybe in a full marathon dedicating like 3 miles to someone haha! It turns into such a mind game every little trick in the book is helpful. Email me if you have any questions or need any suggestions for your marathon 🙂

  • Reply Luci {Luci's Morsels} July 12, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Congratulations on completing your first marathon, Diana! And thank you for sharing some important and practical tips for first timers!

    Luci’s Morsels | fashion. food. frivolity.
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    • Reply Diana Becker July 12, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you so much! Hope you found some of these tips helpful 🙂

  • Reply GiGi Eats July 12, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    The first thing I would learn about a marathon… Is…. I just don’t have the mindset to run one, thus I will let the pros, like yourself, do it for me! 😉

    • Reply Diana Becker July 13, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Haha hey I never thought I had the mindset to do one either…so you never know 🙂 I remember reading a post on your blog about your boyfriend running a marathon without training…CRAZYYY! HOWW?!?! I could hardly do it and trained!

  • Reply Ellie July 12, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    I just ran my first marathon at the end of May too!! I still look back and wonder HOW DID I DO THAT?! I think one thing I learned was to trust my body with the training. I was ready to finish and that was all I wanted. I’m not “training” for anything yet, more base building and getting ready to start training in August for a half 🙂
    Ellie recently posted…Effort Based Workouts For Speed DevelopmentMy Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker July 13, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Congratulations on your first marathon!!!! I’ve been thinking the EXACT same thing every time I run now…like I am struggling to run 5 miles how the heck did I run a full marathon?

  • Reply Amanda @ Exploring Life & Things July 13, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Ahhh love this! I’m all for the destination races! Yes, traveling can add some extra stress but I think it makes the entire weekend/trip so much more fun. I also am the WORRRST at stretching right after a run. I always think that I’m done with the run, so I’m done with it all. Nope, wrong.. I’m sore for days when I do that haha.

  • Reply Akansha @ Citrus & Gold July 15, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I’ve done plenty of half marathons but still too scared to do a full-marathon. Speed training is super important yet it’s something I struggle with too.

    I like half marathons because you can still have a social life while training. But with full-marathons, your social life is completely gone – as you mentioned!

    Thanks for this post. It’s something for me to consider in the next couple of years.

    • Reply Diana Becker July 20, 2016 at 8:56 am

      You are very welcome! Let me know if you have any questions about marathons 🙂

  • Reply Kellen McAvoy July 15, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    I love this! Let’s get a good running group to train for marathon #2 🙂 I saw we pick a fun destination for next year too!
    Kellen McAvoy recently posted…Berry Vanilla Protein SmoothieMy Profile

    • Reply Diana Becker July 19, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      I’m so down for this! I think picking a race next Spring 🙂

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