How to run your first marathon

Author: Emma Wilson | 12 Sep 2011


What does it take to run a full marathon when you’re not a long distance ractivewear for runningunner and you’ve never run one before? Taking the fear of failure and turning it to your advantage, and having all the right fitness gear helps too. This is how one slow recreational jogger got there. And If I can, you can too.


Surround yourself with Like-Minded People

My first casual participation in 3km and 5km fun runs started 10 years ago. It was fun, it was for worthy causes, it got me mixing with types of people I wanted to be surrounded with – upbeat, positive ones who talk recreation and sport, holiday destinations and happy things. Folks who value daylight hours as a great time to get things done. I utilised websites and Facebook pages that focused on positivity and books and magazines that do the same. By doing this everything surrounding you soon becomes all about health, fitness, wellness, sport and enjoying life. Like always attracts Like.

2. Challenge yourself

Sure enough, as human beings, we like to go ‘one better’. Curiosity gets the better of us. There are plenty of fun runs around to quench the thirst of curiosity. You can gradually work up to 8km, then 10km then 14km, taking your time and doing it over a period of months or years. In the glorious city of Sydney there’s whole festivals that celebrate walking, running and moving, like the City-to Surf, the Northern Beaches Pub-to-Pub and The Blackmores Running Festival. We soak up the positive atmosphere and our achievements. Sure enough the same goes for half-marathon runs. This distance can get us travelling around to different regions of Australia and the world. Websites like provide state and national calendars of fun runs. The curiosity builds as the achievements mount up.

3. Planting the seed…maybe a marathon one day?

It’s a regular feature on the bucket list. THE FULL MARATHON. There are marathons around the world that are famed for their scenic routes such as The London Marathon, The New York Marathon and anyone can enter. Sometimes all it takes is a seed of an idea that sounds attractive in its mysterious elusive achievability. That’s how countries got discovered and mountains such as Everest get climbed.

Running fitness gear4. Oprah Winfrey. The Vision Board

Blame Oprah for the Vision Board, but the Vision Board works wonders. Pictures of fit people running, fit bums, amazing sport outfits, words like RUN, I can do it, and other inspiring words or visions are pinned to the board and placed in a predominant position. My vision board has pride of place at the bottom of my bed so it’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing at night. Soon enough I’m dreaming of running, thinking of running during the day and planning how I can execute my first full marathon. Attracting it, wanting it.


Shrouding myself in running info from the internet, forums, online magazines and links, the research begins. What is the best way to execute a first successful marathon? What fitness clothing is good to wear? What tops, shoes, socks? For me this is a process of two things – trial and error. And embodying the phrase ‘all the gear but no idea’. I may chuckle at myself that I now have a headband with in-built microphones, sweat-free socks, a fuel belt and awesome running tights and sports tops but heck, it gives me the confident to pound the pavements and hit the gym. Having great exercise gear winking at me from my drawers forces me more often into going for runs and I find I get the best out of my time free from injury, rashes, boredom or problems like sweat patches under my arms or crutch area. It’s a confidence thing.

6. Medical Checks

Whether it sounds cuckoo or like a no-brainer, being on the wrong side of 30 I decided there was no time like the present to check out any ailments before embarking on a physically demanding project. Pre-existing heart murmur, aching hips and general fitness checks were all given the nod by their respective experts. My mental health was given the all clear by a fitness trainer in reply to my question: Was I mad to contemplate a goal like this? The answer was- No, not crazy and it’s common for people of all walks of life and fitness levels to have a full marathon goal and execute it successfully. You just have to want it badly enough. fitness gear

7. Realistic Time Frame

I found a marathon on the running calendar that was far enough away that I had time enough to train. I gave myself 9 months and chose the Blackmores Running Festival in Spring. Something to look forward during dreary winter months. Each time I dropped the kids to kindy (twice a week) I caught the bus somewhere, and with the bus ticket tucked in my bra and earphones in my ears I created the habit of running home. As difficult as it was to front up week after week the habit was borne, a few times I was sick with coughs and colds I discovered how much I missed the self-imposed routine, like missing an old friend who is kooky but loveable. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the fresh air or the alone time. I like having no pressure on me. I could walk if I wanted or pick up the pace if the song was buzzing.

8. Practice-runs

All throughout the year I found practice runs wherever I could. 15km bush runs, half-marathons, charity runs and friendly runs with whoever was offering. These built confidence and strength, and reinforced my end goal.

9. Keeping it realistic

I am a plodder, A trotter. I am not running to win or beat anybody in particular. I tend to come in the back of the pack and my name runs in the last quarter of timed results. But it makes me happy and I’m not trying to impress anyone. The marathon is next week and I wish myself good luck and feel a flutter of nerves, but I also know I will do my best and if it means I’ve got to stop and walk some, or sit for a bit or not finish, then I’ll also be proud that I set a goal and I gave it all my best shot. And for me, that is living.

10. Make the Fear of Failure your Slave

What’s the worst thing that could happen? You have to walk the course or stop altogether? So what, you had a shot. Have a go, do it on the quiet, don’t raise money if you don’t need that kind of pressure. Just get out there and have a go.