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Coach Jenny’s Top-5 Tips for First-Time Marathoners

Coach Jenny Hadfield, author of "Marathoning For Mortals", gives her expert advice.

Coach Jenny Hadfield, author of “Marathoning For Mortals”, gives her expert advice.

Signing up for your first marathon is easy. Actually training and running the race can be the difficult and terrifying part, but it doesn’t have to be.

Competitor.com spoke with running coach and author of “Marathoning for Mortals,” Jenny Hadfield, about her five basic principals for first time marathoners to ensure your first marathon is as fulfilling, successful and enjoyable as it should be.

1. Stick To The Game Plan

“During the race the nerves are going to kick in and you’re going to second guess yourself. Have faith in your preparation and think about how you made it through the season.  Think about the troubling runs you had in training and how you got through them.”

2. Prepare Your Mind As Much As Your Body

“In terms of toeing the line, we often don’t think about the mental aspects once our bodies are trained and ready to go. However, I think running 90 percent mental and just 10 percent physical.”

3. Pace Yourself

“I’m a huge advocate of negative splits. It’s all about effort, less about pace. Hold back your effort level so you can push hard effort wise in the second half. The strongest runner at the end is almost always going to be the fastest.”

4. Run Efficiently

“At the Boston Marathon last year there was an unbelievable headwind so the elite runners used other runners to block the wind and run behind the drag of the guy in front of them.  Also, to stay efficient throughout the race it’s important to be mindful of your body. When you go through aid station take a check to see if you are running as efficiently as possible. If you’re running with improper form because you’re tired, you are going to burn through your fuel more quickly. Instead, be mindful and focus on form so you can make it to the end.”

5. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

“Go with what the day brings and go in with an open book. It’s your first marathon—your goal should be to finish it. At the end you will be able say now I know what to do and I know what can I do to improve it. Just don’t be too hard on yourself.”

One tip Hadfield suggests far before race day for first time marathoners is to ask yourself: Is this truly something I can accomplish? Do I have enough time and energy to put into training? If your answers are yes, your next step is to do some self-analysis rather than jump right into a plan.

“People get so excited about running that they go straight from sitting on the couch to jumping into marathon training,” Hadfield said. “That’s a great way to get hurt.” Instead, look at your fitness level and build slowly from that foundation to ensure you’re body can handle what you are throwing at it. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back at your training log in awe of how far you have come.