Training Lessons from a first time marathoner

Lessons from a first time marathoner


Weeks after completing the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, her first one, Katie Nielsen shares what running 42.2K taught her.


By Katie Neilsen

Lesson One: Our Bodies are Resilient.

It amazes me how quickly our bodies can recover from the most difficult conditions. If you train properly then your body should spring back into shape in just a few short days following your marathon. Will you be sore? Yes. Will you have a hard time walking for the first 24 hours post – race? Absolutely. But if you prepare your body then like an elastic band, you will bounce back and resume your original shape in no time. Tip: Get on a protein supplement regime weeks before race day. This will help repair small muscle tears and the aches and pains that come along with the training process.

Lesson Two: It’s All About Mental Toughness.

By finishing the marathon in 4 hours and 6 minutes I know that I trained my body physically, but I don’t think I was as mentally prepared as I could have been. For 42 kilometers your rambling mind is all you have and you need to be prepared to fight that mental block that everyone tells you about. Tip: Train without music and be one with your thoughts. On race day try to be one with the crowd’s energy instead of filling your head with Top 40 hits. Listen to your breath, listen to your heart and you will find yourself in a heightened sense of awareness.

Lesson Three: The Importance of Finding Your “SOLE MATE”.

If you want to walk away from your race with as little joint pain as possible then you need to have proper support. Like online dating, do your research, try a few shoes on for size and find your sole mate. I went for the Nike Flynit Free Run 4.0 because they are lightweight all while still providing support, and style! Choosing the wrong shoe could make or break your ability to achieve your marathon goals. Tip: Visit your local running store and get advice from an expert. Although I mentioned my shoes are stylish (neon orange and pink!), make sure you do not select your shoes based on looks alone. Like finding your soul mate, you don’t want shoes that cause you pain. it’s all about what’s on the inside, and how well you work together.

Lesson Four:  Carbs Aren’t the Enemy.

Like many women approaching 30, I am very mindful about what I put in my body. I am not afraid to admit that I sometimes view carbs as the enemy, and 90% of the time an over consumption of carbs = guilt. Here’s the thing – if you run, you need them! Carbs = energy, plain and simple. I carb-loaded the whole week leading up to my marathon and it helped me immensely. I needed that energy to get me through my 42 kilometers on race day. Tip: You can still make healthy choices when adding carbs to your diet. If I am making a pasta dish I make sure to add 1/3 protein and 1/3 produce. Do not introduce brand new foods the week leading up to your race or it could cause for an unwanted bathroom delay on the big day.

Lesson Five: You Need All the Support You Can Get.

Many people, including myself, train and run their marathons completely solo. Something I have learned through this journey is that it’s crucial to have a support system behind you. I was fortunate to have many of my loved ones behind me but I know there was room for more. Tip: Join a running group and find support in your peers. Find an accountability partner so that you can encourage and push each other to always achieve more. The unity of it all is beautiful, and being able to share the complete experience with an individual or a group will take your sense of accomplishment to the next level.



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