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5 Lessons I Learned After Running My First Marathon

by Katie Verburg - September 22, 2021

Katie Verburg is an ACSM certified personal trainer who is currently studying to become a holistic health coach. She has been in the health and fitness industry for a decade. Here, she writes about running her first marathon.

Twenty-six miles, two blisters, one chafing armpit, very sore quad muscles, and another goal crossed off the bucket list! I can finally say I ran my first marathon.

Running my first marathon was a big deal for me and something I was beyond nervous for. The competitive side of me came out the night before as I pep-talked myself into looking at this huge feat as "just a long workout with a great view." Truth be told, it went better than I imagined. So, if you are thinking about running your first marathon, consider these 5 lessons — my own takeaways — before starting the journey.

Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.

5 Lessons I Learned After Running My First Marathon

1. Be Easy on Yourself

Conquering any large goal can bring a whirlwind of emotions like nerves, fear, excitement, and other overwhelming thoughts. Take it from me, be easy on yourself! Cut yourself some slack when it comes to overcoming whatever milestone you have your eyes set on. When the pressure can be reduced, it has the possibility to help introduce confidence that you might not have realized you had all along.

2. Be Smart with Nutrition

I can’t stress this enough: When running a marathon – a run that lasts more than 60 minutes – fuel is crucial for success, as well as survival. Educating yourself beforehand on what your body will need nutritionally is something that will be of benefit, and something that you will be thankful for post-race. There are plenty of nutritional options out there, and I would recommend trying different options during your training program. And not waiting until race day to try something for the first time. Staying hydrated is another biggie. I did so by drinking Vital Proteins Collagen Water™ ($12; shop now).

3. Motivation Is All Around You

Unlike your training runs, you will have hundreds – if not thousands – of other runners to help encourage you along the way on race day. Some may irritate you with their loud music blasting as they run by you, while others may bring a smile or even laughter as they offer words of encouragement as they come up beside you. Use these fellow runners as motivation, as well as an adrenaline boost.

4. Keep Pushing

Whether it be a marathon, an Ironman race, a half marathon, or a 5K, it's important to just keep moving forward. Walk if you have to walk, slow down if you feel like you're going too fast, stop at the aid stations and rehydrate, catch your breath, and do a quick stretch. As long as you're moving in the right direction, don't quit on yourself. Even the best athletes out there have to take a quick 10 walking steps before running again. Keep pushing forward and keep your chin up.

5. Thank Your Body

Listen, a marathon is a big deal. That's anywhere from 3-6 hours of straight running. If you really sit and think about that, it's wild. Over two hours of cardiovascular activity is hard enough to imagine, let alone actually put yourself through. It's important to keep in mind that running a marathon is going to involve a lot of sore muscles during, and post-race, which means recovery time is crucial. Our bodies are stronger than we give them credit for, but we oftentimes forget to give them credit for all that they do for us. We need to thank them properly with rest, recovery, and self-love even when there’s no race in the picture. 

No matter what goal, or what bucket list item you have for yourself — put your all into it and try your best. Stay confident, stay hopeful, and keep that chin up through it all. Best of luck — I promise it's worth it!

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