My first marathon: a guide to running your first race

Charlotte Watts / Apr 13, 2016

In the last couple of weeks it seems as though some key things have happened that have taken me from a casual runner to something a little more serious. I guess it’s the necessary transformation for someone who is crazy enough to try and drag themselves 26.2 miles along Brighton’s Coast in just 6 weeks’ time. So this week I’ve been looking at these ‘developments’ as the training starts to ramp up and my first marathon approaches.


1. #TeamBrighton

First things first, training with someone else makes all the difference, especially on a cold Sunday morning. Grant my fellow Brighton Marathon runner and I have started the #TB dream team (consisting of well just the two of us). We will talk about it to everyone, everywhere and at every possible opportunity – so be warned.  In all seriousness though as the rest of the running club are doing the slightly more glamorous marathons (Paris, London, North Korea) it’s nice to have someone joining me in lovely Brighton as we tackle the training runs, take training selfies and share the excitement for the big day!

2. My longest run EVER!

Yes that’s right last weekend and this I have exceeded a half marathon and as you start running further than the 13.1 miles boy can you feel it!

Last Saturday ‘Team Brighton’ ran 15 miles along the Thames Path to Richmond, around Richmond Park and back to Putney. It was a bitterly cold, windy day, which made for a pretty tough run but getting to run past deer made it all worthwhile, plus a ‘deer selfie’ is always a winner.

This Sunday we set out on a 16.5 mile extravaganza around central London.  As we are fortunate enough to live in one of the best cities in the world and we are crazy enough to be training for a marathon, it makes sense to use some of the awesome landmarks to give us a boost (and an awesome selfie) during these longer runs.  It was an inspiring route passing some of London’s finest including Big Ben, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park before heading back through Kensington.  I’ve always loved walking or running through London and joining up in my mind all the different areas that seem so distant when you look at a tube map. It was an inspiring run followed by a much deserved (carb loaded) brunch.

3. I moan about my IT Band

I have started to get aches and pains and perhaps the start of a runners injury. While having a sore left knee is certainly not good news and is a little worrying as we move nearer to the big day, it does make me feel like a bit of a running pro when I moan about my IT band, something I didn’t even know existed until fairly recently.

So a lot of my time is now spent stretching, foam rolling, bathing and heating my precious left knee. Please hold out for me, old friend.

4. I now tape (pink tape)

In an attempt to prevent and fix the pains that have started to creep up I have started applying bright pink tape to my body. In fact I spend Friday nights cradling a glass of wine, watching taping youtube videos and sticking this stretchy fluorescent stuff to my leg in new and strange ways.  I’m not entirely sure what it does but it certainly makes you feel athletic when someone comments on the pink glow showing through your tights at work.

5. I bought a Garmin (a pink one)

Yes I spent actual money on a watch that tells me my pace and time and beeps at me every now and then. Surely an amateur wouldn’t do something quite so dramatic?

I have no idea how this gadget fully works yet and if anything on its first outing it only added confusion to Sunday’s run. However, it helps keeps me on pace, syncs to my phone, tells me when I get a text or when David Walliam’s tweets something – who wouldn’t want that key info on a run?

Also, it turns out I’m obsessed with buying pink versions of running necessities e.g. foam roller, tape, watch, shoes, gloves to name a few.  I usually don’t even particularly like the colour

6. I love Strava

This game-changing app has made running a little more exciting and competitive. Though my risk-adverse side was reluctant to leave Nike + behind, I have to admit Strava is actually pretty awesome. With friends also training for the marathons it’s great to see how they are getting along, plus you get major guilt if you miss your runs.

With all this happening I am feeling focused, excited and scared all at the same time – but I guess that’s’ about right for someone training for their 1st Marathon.