Heyo, my name is Hal. Last November, I ran my first marathon. And now that my knees have recovered and I'm still alive, I'm ready to tell you about the last year's worth of training for the New York City Marathon.
So, after two years of standing on the sidelines of the race, I decided that 2017 was my year. I was going to run the marathon.
But hear me out here: Just because I finished running a marathon does not mean that I am a running expert. Far from it, actually. I made mistakes and learned some lessons along the way.
1. The toughest part is getting started.
2. Get good shoes early.
3. Do your damn research, fool.
4. Training is rewarding, but also it's a sacrifice.
5. Talk to people who have actually run a marathon.
I talked to my friend Aaron who ran the marathon two years before me. He was so helpful and calmed my nerves. He also told me that he crawled for the two days following the marathon. Aaron was helpful. Find your Aaron.
6. Podcasts are good for running.
7. The gym is a hellscape, go outside to run.
8. Running on sidewalks is different than running on the road.
I didn't learn this until it was too late. Sidewalks are flat, roads are slanted for drainage purposes, so roads put different strain on your ankles and knees. If you can, try training on a route similar to the one that you will be running on marathon day – I didn't do this, which resulted in a lot of pain during my marathon. My knees weren't ready for the slanted roads!
9. Your body is going to change, and not exactly how you think it will.
10. Running apps are good, but also, running apps are bad.
11. You don't have to use social media, but you can!
12. Splurge for good running socks.
13. You don't need a ton of gear to be a runner.
14. Keep your runs interesting.
15. Experiment with what food you want to eat during your race.
You should start testing which food/nutritional products you are going to use long before you run the big race. I have no technical background in nutrition, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask, but I'll tell you what foods I landed on: almonds and Twizzlers. Both were easy to carry and fun to eat.
Unfortunately, ice cream is not a food that you are encouraged to eat while running a marathon.
16. Things are gonna hurt.
17. Tapering will make you feel like you’re slacking.
The two weeks before your big race is usually when runners do something called "the taper." This is when you seriously scale back your mileage. This results in kind of a constant restless leg syndrome. It's not fun and it makes you feel like you are missing out on precious preparation time. I can't say for sure if it helped me, but I will say that everyone says to do it. So do what feels right for you!
18. Be prepared for the pre-marathon expo – it's madness.
19. Marathon weekend might feel a little lonely.
20. I️ swear to god, if you don’t hydrate, you’re going to be sorry. But don't overdo it either it.
While you're sitting around for the few days before the marathon, you should be drinking copious amounts of water. I peed like 20 times a day. Keep track of your water intake and be diligent. I tried to drink at least 4 big bottles of water a day. You don't want to get two miles into the race and then have to quit because you're dehydrated. But you also don't want to overdo it either. Too much water can cause hyponatremia, a potentially life-threatening health situation that has been known to make first-time marathoners extremely sick.