What I learnt from my first Marathon

Two of my most dedicated and focused Full Circle Wellness clients are preparing themselves to run their first 42.2km Marathon in September – the Cape Town Marathon! This race was my first Marathon last year – an incredible experience, one I am extremely proud of achieving! (and will run many more once my knee surgery is a thing of the past!)

The good news – you’ve done most of your physical training by now (or is that bad news?  Depends on how prepared you are feeling!) With one month to go, it’s time to start tapering and resting – check out my article on Pre-Race Prep here that I wrote for the Two Oceans). So now, all I can offer are some pointers from first-hand experience to make your marathon journey that more awesome!

Know where you are going. Know where you need to park, where your starting block is. Arrive super early and ahead of time, you don’t want to be rushed and or feel panicked.

Take a friend with you – get someone to lift you there and back. They can handle any parking crisis’s (common on race days), as well as hold your breakfast and jacket for you when you are finished with them – if you don’t have someone with you, you have to a) freeze to death in the morning cold without your jacket or b) wear your jacket around your waist (this gets old if you are in it for 42.2km I promise!)

Get a general idea of the route in your mind (you can get this from the race website). It really helps to visualise how far the route is, where the markers are

Do NOT run with any new items – no new shirt (not even the race one!), no new socks – NOTHING. Stick to your usual race gear, you don’t want to run the risk of chaffing when you still have 32km to go!

Loobit or Vaseline are a runner’s fail-safes – pop it into a piece of running foil and fold it up into your pocket – you can the use it and disposed of the container in a bin once you are finished with it, rather than carrying a whole bottle

Drink water at the water stations BEFORE YOU NEED TO. If you are thirsty during the race, you are already dehydrated and it’s too late – I personally love the Coke, it gives me that sugary boost that my legs need to keep me going. I make sure I drank a small bit of Coke and a sachet of water at every water point to prevent dehydration.

Get your race nutrition tested and ready WEEKS before the actual event – you don’t want any surprises in the porta-loo along the Main Road! I am a big fan of more natural food (verses supplements – I prefer real food for my body to break down, as opposed to chemicals and colourants). I normally eat a bowl of oats (carbs) and milk (protein) with fruit and honey (energy), and boiled egg at home in the morning. I then have a second boiled egg at the race start, along with an apple with peanut butter (more protein and energy). I then eat half a piece of Sally Wedgewood Race nougat every 10km/every 60mins – nougat contains protein (eggs), energy (cranberries, nuts and sugar). Keeps me going every time.

At the marathon last year, a stranger came up to me with Mars Bars on a silver platter, dressed with ice at the 35km – I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Much needed! Thank you kind lady, where ever you may be at this moment!

This is a biggie, I wish someone had told me this before – my hamstrings are the strongest part of my body and often over-work (when my glutes should be doing the pushing) – at the 37km mark, they had enough and began to cramp up and seize. I popped a magnesium tablet that I “happened” to just have in my race bag by pure fluke, but it was too late – the damage had been done and the last 5km took me over an hour of painful limping and walking. Ouch.

What did I learn? Take your magnesium supplements every day the week before, make sure you do enough strength training to encourage the right muscles to do the right job to prevent cramping. And keep more than one magnesium tablet in your bag and take one at the 25km mark, and then again at the 35km mark (EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT CRAMPING). Also, keep a little spray bottle of magnesium spray in your race bag – INCREDIBLE supplement, you can get it a Steps To Health and alleviates cramping with almost immediate effect

Your legs will hurt, you will get tired and you will want to give up. But remember why you decided to take this on in the first place. For me, it was a signal to the universe that I was healthy and well, that my body was no longer disabled by a crippling auto-immune disease that controlled my life. I was healthy and strong enough to run a marathon – and I did just that. Remember why you made this decision and let it help you over the finish line.

They will be there for you at the finish line, waiting for you with a HUGE beer and an even bigger smile on their faces waiting to congratulate you on your INCREDIBLE achievement. I cannot wait to be there to watch you guys come over the finish line – I am so proud of you. With you every step of the way, shoelace style!

And to those out there thinking about running their first marathon, just do it – its life changing! But make sure you get some proper training in first – Full Circle Wellness can help you with that!






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