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8 Training Tips for Your First Marathon or Half-Marathon

5. Go With the Flow

Late nights at work, sick kids -- it’s inevitable that you’ll have some off days. No one sticks to the training plan perfectly, Galati says.

"Accept bad runs during training," he says. "As the average-to-good runs become more frequent, the bad runs become easier to tolerate."

Injuries can happen, too. But if you have a reasonable plan for running, nutrition, and rest, you're more likely to stay injury-free.

6. Monitor Your Heart Rate

Enthusiasm is good, but there's a downside: overtraining.

"Check your resting heart rate every morning," Galati says. "If you see a big jump, you’re probably overtraining."

If your morning heart rate is normally 60, for instance, and goes up to 61 or 62, no big deal, he says. But if it goes from 60 to 72, back off and recover, he says.

7. Mimic Race Day

During training, "replicate the race experience," Donovan says. That is, get used to the conditions you'll face on race day.

Check out the racecourse ahead of time. Is it hilly? Will the race team be serving a sports drink or water?

Never wear new shoes, socks, or shorts on race day. Wear something you know is comfortable because you've trained in it.

8. Run With Attitude

Positive thinking from the start is crucial, Fieseler says. Tune out any negative talk you're likely to hear on the course -- and you may hear grumbling, moaning, maybe even swearing.

Replace all of that with positive visualization. Suppose you’ve checked out the course ahead of time, and you know that mile 5 begins to get hilly. When you begin the race, visualize yourself building energy from the start and not struggling at all once the hill arrives.

Then, as you run, Fieseler says to think positive thoughts, such as, "I'm defeating this hill; it isn't defeating me."

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Reviewed on February 28, 2013

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