Lessons learned running a first marathon

Los Angeles Marathon runners celebrate their achievement at the finish line.
(Katie Falkenberg / For The Times)

You only get to run your first marathon once. But if I could do it all again, there are definitely some things I’d do differently.

What I did right:

• I was ambitious. Deciding to run a marathon and find out what you’re made of is a good thing, in my book.

• I decided to write about my mission. By making a public commitment, my motivation level was cranked up several notches.


• I fueled my training with complex carbohydrates, including lots of whole grains, as advised by sports nutrition consultant Nancy Clark.

• I listened to medical experts when I got hurt. Despite my eagerness to train, I rested my ankle and followed the prescribed rehabilitation program to reduce the risk of further injury.

What I did wrong:

• I was too ambitious. Had I trained at a 9-minute-per-mile pace, it’s quite likely I would have avoided injury and still had a fair chance at finishing in under four hours.


• I failed to seek even basic advice. The mistakes I made were common first-timer errors that were eminently preventable.

• I let my ego rule. Aching thighs were an early warning that I was going too fast, but I paid no heed. Now I’ll be attempting a marathon having never gone further than 16 miles in one outing.

Humbled by Los Angeles Marathon training


Upcoming marathons in Southern California

Resources for marathon training