Coach Walter Keating Jr. Reveals 8 Essential Strategies You Need to Run Your First Marathon

Fit people running race in park on a sunny day

Many people have the fitness goal of running a marathon. It’s not an easy thing to do, though, and it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and a set plan forward. However, a fitness coach from Toronto, Walter Keating Jr., says that there are some strategies that any runner can employ to reach their goal of running a marathon. Below are eight of those essential strategies.

#1. Commit to It

Running a marathon is something you have to be committed to. So you can say you wanting to do it isn’t an off-hand goal. 

You need a certain mindset to run and complete a marathon, and you need to be in that mindset leading up to it. Therefore, commit to your goal of running a marathon first so that all other steps can fall into place.

#2. Dedicate Time to Training

Building up from typical running to completing a marathon takes time. Many experts believe a runner needs to train for four months, leading up to a marathon.

This means you need to give yourself enough time to prepare in advance of your first marathon properly. You can’t decide at the last minute and expect to complete your first marathon. You need to have set aside the proper time to get your mind and body in shape.

#3. Set a Realistic Goal

Everyone would love to win their first marathon or place near the top of the finishers. However, an essential part of competing in your first marathon is setting realistic goals for yourself.

Your goal could be finishing in a certain amount of time, completing the marathon at all, or just trying your best. Having realistic goals won’t put too much pressure or strain on your mind and body.

#4. Get Proper Rest and Eat Well

Running a marathon is an entirely different physical challenge than other sports. It takes lots of rest and a particular diet — especially the night before races. 

Getting enough sleep and eating well in the months leading up to a marathon is essential for preparing your body for what’s ahead. The night before, you need to eat a lot of carbs as well as get a great night’s sleep so that you can have all the energy you’ll need to compete. Coffee simply won’t suffice.

#5. Have the Proper Footwear

Every runner needs a great set of footwear to complete a marathon. While you don’t need to break the bank on the best running shoes on the market, you shouldn’t skimp on footwear, either.

Consider purchasing new running shoes that you’ll train in and wear on the day of the marathon. 

#6. Become an Early Riser

Almost all marathons begin early in the morning. To compete that early, you need to make sure your body and mind are entirely aware and ready for the race.

If you’re not a morning person, work on becoming one leading up to a marathon. Get to bed earlier, rise earlier and train early in the morning. 

#7. Pace Yourself

A marathon isn’t a sprint. It’s, well, a marathon. There are times when you might run faster than others, but it’s essential to keep a good, steady pace if you want to finish a marathon.

Walter Keating Jr. says you can work on finding your proper pace during training sessions leading up to your first marathon.

#8. Stay in Control

Mind over matter. That’s what is most important in running a marathon. You need to be in control of your mind and make sure your body isn’t controlling your actions. Music and meditation can help with this, as can other resilience strategies. 

About Walter Keating Jr.

Walter Keating Jr. is a Toronto-based fitness coach specializing in triathlon coaching and corrective exercise training. He graduated from the Fitness and Lifestyle Management Program at George Brown College and immediately started his professional career. Mr. Keating has worked as an endurance coach, personal trainer, spinning instructor, and corrective exercise trainer.

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