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Feeling enthusiastic about your first marathon? Well, that’s just the first step to successfully crossing this out of your bucket list this year. In case you have completed a few marathons; then congrats ‘pro-athlete,’ you have made it to the pre-legends list. However, you could use this article as a refresher course, get you back in the game, learn a few tricks to fine-tune your skill set, and perhaps, just perhaps take you to the legends list. Ever had time to sit down over coffee or your favorite beverage and think about all the aspects of a marathon? It might seem like an exhausting and brutally excruciating experience (we totally get it if you can’t make it through a few flights of stairs, but that is not normal, health-wise at least). However, you don’t need to panic, with proper preparation and planning; you will make it through the most difficult marathon, your first marathon. Believe me, when I tell you this, it’s a proud and amazing accomplishment when you cross the finish line, even if you crossed last lol! Oh! and don’t forget to raise your hands, coz you have accomplished something great.

Plan for training

Let’s not kid ourselves here; you won’t walk out of your gate and do 14km unless of course you are allergic to Kryptonite and your parents’ names are Jor-EL and Lara. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I watch superhero movies. According to fitness experts, it’s important to build up your mileage and endurance while incorporating some rest; this is to ensure that you prevent overuse injuries.   Start with 13km, oh sorry 3km and then build up to 5km to ensure your body gradually picks up the pace. 

Fueling your body

If you were unfit as I was before my first marathon, then you might need to alter what you eat. See, you are what you eat, and if you occasionally gobble up junk, that’s exactly what you are when you hit track. Eat the right foods at the right time. Trust me on this, I grew up with the kalenjins. Food is fuel to your body. I am not an expert in dieting, but specialists recommend eating foods with a 3:1 protein to carbohydrates ratio. Also, run when your body is best able to utilize the carbs and proteins you are eating. There is a small 30-minute window after training when your body will be at its best to replenish used up nutrients, take advantage!

Set objectives and goals

Getting through the cross line for a starter marathoner is a great life accomplishment, I can testify to that. If it’s your first marathon, focus on finishing (get over yourself about winning gold, it’s not yet time Simba!). Your objective should be finishing the race while at the same time having a good experience, rather than pushing yourself over the cliff. 

Mental preparation

The mindset you have during training, the confidence you establish will directly influence your performance when you get to the track. One of the best ways of achieving this is scoring well during your more challenging training sessions. It will be a whole lot better if the actual event seems easier than your training sessions. You could also create a map that is in line with the course or visit the main site before the race, get a feel of the terrain. Touch the road with your palms, feel the dust between your fingers if you can…you know like the movies.

Equipment is essential

There is no way you can go to the garden with a kitchen knife and expect good yields, the same way you can’t do a drive-by with a pickup truck (horrible reference here by the way). Therefore, ensure that your gear is right. You need running shoes, and they need to be COMFORTABLE, trust me, comfortability will count those few extra miles before the finishing line. Your socks, clothing, and anything you carry need to be light but comfortable. If we are still talking jeans here, you are probably reading the wrong article (try googling five outfits that will give you fame and glory in the village instead). Small pro tip here: apply Vaseline on your feet, they will prevent blisters, and yes people get blisters in marathons too. 

What to eat before the race

Well, a lot of athletes have this misconception that carbohydrates overload before a marathon is essential; however, marathon specialists suggest consuming carbs such pasta or rice for lunch, then finishing it off with a light dinner. I know this just killed the morale for most. On race day, eat at least three hours before the race; give your body ample time to digest. Carry fuel sources you can use during the race. Disclaimer; fuel is not Uji!

You can do it!One of the greatest yet most ignored sports slogans is Nike’s Just Do It! Committing to a training plan and following through is hectic, and extremely challenging even to the most seasoned athletes. However, once you have made it to the starting line, you are already a winner! Involve friends and family during your marathons, especially that fat uncle that keeps calling you lazy. Their morale and support might be all you need to finish this great event. If you haven’t done a marathon, what are you doing with your life? Like seriously, what the health?

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