3 Goal-Setting Tips for First-Time Marathoners

  • Elevate your legs based on total miles run. This is one of my favorite recovery rules, even if I don't use it until I am running longer than an hour. Make a note of how far you run and then set aside time to sit—or lie down—with your legs up. Even better if you have some compression socks on. 
  • Recovery starts before you stop. Fuel each run as best you can. There should be NO bad patches due to poor fueling or hydration. Overextending yourself within a workout, even with proper recovery, can set you back several days worth of workouts. Know your food and fluid needs and plan accordingly; every run is a chance to test and practice proper nutrition. 

More: How Nutrition Impacts Recovery

Step Three: Improve Your Body Composition 

Not only do we need to deal with how our bodies handle the work we are doing, but it also pays huge dividends to make sure our bodies are in the best condition possible. Every single pound you lose is worth approximately three seconds per mile; lose 10 pounds and you are close to 30 seconds per mile faster without any substantial training!

More: Running to Lose Weight

For some runners, simply being active helps take care of this issue, but many of us need to pay extra attention. Here are some tips that can help you start the journey to a healthier, faster you.

  • Make healthier choices every day. Don't throw out all your food; pick one thing and make a better choice. Do that consistently over time and it'll become a habit, allowing you to move on to the next thing. Options could be a healthier dessert, or better midday snack.
  • Start each day with your best possible meal. If your days get away from you more than you'd like to admit, then focus on what you can control—your breakfast. Not only will you get a great start on your day, but you'll also be more likely to keep the healthy streak going the rest of the day. 
  • Fill food "gaps" with good choices. If larger meals are too daunting to manage, then focus your attention on making lots of better, smaller decisions. They add up. 

Never go more than three hours without eating something. If you wait too long to eat, your body's need for calories will encourage you to choose the most expedient food, which is usually not the healthiest. Review your usual meal times and plan to fill the gaps with excellent choices like fruit, a handful of nuts, a small greek yogurt, etc. 

More: Learn to Snack Strategically

Bonus Tip: Track Your Miles 

Knowledge is momentum; momentum is power. Tracking your miles will have the dual effect of giving you a record of your progress (congrats) and help you build a streak of running. You can work to beat last week's totals, beat your longest run, run a local loop faster, etc. The power is in the numbers.

More: Couch to Marathon Training Plan

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