7 Ways to Prepare For Your First Marathon

3. Goal Setting

For novice marathon runners, simply finishing the event is a huge accomplishment. Loftus recommends that newbie marathoners focus more on finishing the race and having a good experience rather than trying to run too hard.

"For the majority of first time marathoners, finishing should be the primary goal, but they should still have a plan for their pacing so they don't go out too fast or exert too much energy in the early part of the race," he says. "It is a big accomplishment to finish a marathon and hopefully do it in a way that is a positive experience."

More: Set Goals, Get Permission, Plan The Logistics

4. Mental Preparation

The mindset and confidence level you establish during training can influence your performance and outlook on race day. "A great way to prepare mentally is to have good results in your more challenging, training runs and tune-up races," Loftus says. "This way you build your confidence which is an extremely important element of mental preparation."

More: 3 Tips to Build Mental Toughness

A great way to prepare is to study the course prior to the event, either using maps or actually going to see the course in person. This way there will be no surprises when you actually run the race.

Adequate mental preparation can help to instill confidence, which will help runners relax more before and during the race. "I try to prepare my runners by letting them know in advance that the race will become hard at some point," Loftus says. "The body can do amazing things especially when we are mentally prepared and willing to dig deep to achieve a goal."

5. Get the Right Equipment

When choosing a shoe, runners should find a pair that is comfortable, light and flexible. Go to a local running or sporting goods store and try on several different pairs. Many specialized stores will let you run in the shoes, and give you helpful feedback to choose the right pair.

It's also important to get high-quality socks that are both comfortable and protective. Loftus also recommends applying a thin layer of Aquaphor or Vaseline on the feet in order to prevent blisters.

More: Spring 2013 Running Shoe Guide

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