My 20 Tips For Your First Marathon

Originally posted on Philly Magazine’s “Be Well Philly” page

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On October 11th of this year, I successfully finished the Chicago Marathon. Considering I ran my first 5K just two years prior to this race, it was a pretty eye-opening experience and I learned a lot. Below, the 20 best tips that I learned from finishing my very first marathon.

1. Mentally prepare yourself

A full marathon is not something to be taken lightly. You need to prepare yourself mentally for this challenge just as much physically. Do not just jump in, because the journey in front of you is going to be tough and you need to be mentally ready.

2. Read, read, read

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My Chicago Marathon Weekend

This is not a review of the Chicago Marathon race I ran. For that, you can go here. This is a recap of the amazing weekend I spent in Chicago while completing my first marathon.

This past weekend was the Chicago Marathon, and for me, my very first time visiting Chicago. Since I had never been before I scheduled my trip from Saturday to Tuesday. I wanted a few days post marathon to explore the city, but more importantly, get my legs right after running my first ever marathon.

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Our Hotel

I am lucky to be surrounded by a great support system as far as running goes so I was not the only one headed there. My girlfriend, parents and parents two friends all came with me. We flew out Saturday morning and landed in Chicago by Saturday afternoon. The girlfriend and I checked into our hotel and immediately headed towards the runners expo.

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Race Review: Chicago Marathon

I’m officially a Marathon Runner!!! No words have ever felt better to type. This past weekend was the Chicago Marathon and I am happy to say that I earned my medal! For someone like me who just started running in 2013 and the most exciting race I have run is Philly’s Half Marathon, it is hard for me to say anything bad about a World Marathon like Chicago. It was an overwhelming experience that I will never forget. Now onto my review….

Expo:

The expo was amazing. I didn’t see exactly how many vendors were there, but if you couldn’t find it at that running expo, it doesn’t exist. The race management team made getting to the expo really easy. There were shuttles set up at different points throughout the city to take you there. I hopped on the one at Nike Running Chicago and got to the expo in no time.

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Shuttle to the expo

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I’m About To Run A Freaking Marathon!

Holy shit… I am really just a few days away from running a full marathon. The same guy who struggled through his first 5K in 2013 is just a few days away from running a full marathon, just a short two years later! By no means is this a culmination of my running journey, but it damn sure is a milestone.

Sometimes I forget how far I’ve come. I have made running such a large part of my life that it feels second nature to me. However it hasn’t always been like that. If I think hard enough, I can remember just a few years ago how much I hated running. I had friends who did it and it never made any sense to me. Why go out there and put yourself through all of that? What is the point? Running just never made sense to me. And yet here I am just 2 years later about to run the Chicago freaking Marathon!

This has been one hell of a journey so far. It started with that first 5K in 2013 that I struggled to get through and then telling myself immediately after that I would train for a half marathon in just 8 weeks. Training for that first half marathon was no picnic. Not only was it physically challenging, at the same time my closest “support system” at that time unfortunately was anything but supportive. The closest person to me during that time would constantly tell me I was an idiot for attempting to run a half marathon and that someone built like me wasn’t meant for that kind of race. And yet here I am 2 years later about to run double that distance.

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Finishing my first Half Marathon. Cotton shirt? 2015 Chadd is extremely disappointed with 2013 Chadd

To say that I am nervous is an understatement. By nature I’m very level headed and rarely get rattled. So to people around me it is just another race. However internally it is anything but that. I would never let people know this around me (well I guess they do now) but I have had a softball sized pit in my stomach since the beginning of this week. I have run well beyond the half marathon distance in training so far, including two 20+ mile runs, so I know my body can handle it. However those runs have been hard. I’ve been tested physically way more than I ever have. So I know this marathon is going to be difficult. I know there will be times where I don’t think I can go any further but I have to find a way to. As a result I am extremely nervous about this run. I am doing my best this week to keep those nerves in check, but it has been difficult.

The good news is that my 2 year running journey has prepared me for this. Whether it was my first Half Marathon, first Duathlon, first Triathlon, first Spartan Race or any other firsts; this will not be the first time I have gotten to a starting line with that pit in my stomach. So I at least have a basis on how to keep those emotions in check.

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Finishing my first triathlon!

So here I am. Just a few days away from running a race that I thought was damn near impossible just a short time ago. Many other people could get to this distance sooner than I did. And a lot more can finish it faster with less training than me. But this race for me is about so much more than that. It’s about a guy who discarded all of his negative feelings towards running and one day in 2013 just decided to go for it. Regardless of negativity, difficulty or my own self doubt; I just plowed ahead one goal at a time. As a result there are just a few days that stand between me and an accomplishment that I was never meant for. My motto for running has always been “take it one day at a time”. It’s time for me to now take it one step at a time for 26.2 miles.

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My First 100 Mile Running Month!

At the start of 2015 I set 3 running goals for the year. I only set 3 because I knew the majority of the goals would take most of the year to accomplish. The 3 goals are to run a full marathon, run 100 miles in one month and volunteer at a race.

As of yesterday goal #1 has been checked off the list! September was a very busy month as it was the first time I ran 100 miles in one month. My previous high for one month was the month before where I ran 72 miles. As I have written before, in 2014 I ran over 50 miles for the month just ONCE. In 2015 I officially have gotten over the 50 mile mark 6 out of the 8 months so far! So for someone who doesn’t go over 50 miles monthly often a 100 mile month is a big deal.

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Fitness Week Review: 9/21 – 9/27

The Chicago Marathon is so close I can feel it. I am done with all of my lengthy long runs and it is all down hill from here as far as mileage is concerned. Overall this was a very active week for me personally that took my fitness across state lines. From Thursday to Sunday I was in Boston for vacation. As a result it did get in the way of my fitness activities but didn’t stop me completely.

My week….

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Product Review: Buff Headband

Disclaimer: I received a free UV Buff Headband as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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It feels like it is becoming a regular thing anymore where I come home to see a package waiting at my door. And what’s inside? Some awesome running gear! Through my ambassadorship with BibRave I am able to test some awesome running gear and this time it was the UV Buff Headband.

I continue to say this, but if you are into running and active on social media you have to link up with BibRave. Not only is it a great site to review races but it is an amazing community of like minded runners all fighting for the same goal; to be the best versions of themselves through running. Don’t believe me? Join their #BibChat on Twitter (starts at 8/9 ET) every Tuesday night and see for yourself!

Now onto this product review…..

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Fitness Week Review: 9/8 – 9/13

This week was a bit of a short/ clustered week. Since the previous weekend was labor day, I technically started this week on Tuesday. (Having done my previous weeks long run on Monday). Along with this I took a work trip to Dallas, TX from Thursday to Saturday. So needless to say my running schedule was a little bit mixed up.

None the less I still got my activity in, just not as much as I would have liked. My week…..

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