Marathon Mania – 10 must-have tips for first-time marathoners

1. Set a comfortable pace on training walks. Many first-timers don’t realize they need to pace themselves in order to last the whole marathon.

2. Increase your distance gradually. Newbie feet aren’t ready for long distance. Too much too soon just means injuries and soreness, not speed.

3. Moderate your pace on your long training walks. Many walkers think they should walk the long training walks as fast as they walk their shorter walks during the week. They don’t realize that eventually, they will get faster on the long walks, but it takes time.

4. Vary your pace throughout the walk. You’ll learn which speeds are most comfortable for you.

5. Learn to like sport drinks. Sheree Meehan dilutes them and doesn’t usually drink them until after the 12th mile. But you need the energy boost. On the longest walks make sure you eat, too.

6. Cross train by biking, swimming or weight training. Don’t hike, roller blade or do anything else that’s too close to walking. You need a rest. Sheree Meehan stresses weight training for marathoners. A strong upper body really helps. Good posture will improve your endurance.

7. Practice “cross-overs” during your warm-up or any time your hips feel tight. Imagine you’re walking down a white center line. Cross your left leg, then your right leg, over the center line. This exercise stretches out your hips and helps you use your whole leg during your walk.

8. Use a bent arm-swing technique as you pick up your pace. Be sure your arms don’t cross the midline of your body, or reach up above your nipple line.

9. Walk tall. Don’t bend forward from the waist. You’ll only put pressure on your lower back.

10. If you hurt somewhere, stop. Don’t think you can simply walk the pain out. When your feet start hurting on a long-distance walk, it’s best to stop, ice, rest, massage. Let your feet recover — don’t think its just a cramp or something that will pass. You’ll end up doing more damage.

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