How I Ran My First Marathon in Under 4 Hours

marathon running training May 02, 2020

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Running a marathon is no easy feat. I'm just going to come out and say it. It takes months of training, time dedication, and a powerful mindset. 

However, once you accomplish it, you get to celebrate, as seen in the picture below!

Let's start at the beginning

I decided to run my first marathon in August of 2019 and the marathon was only a few months away in November 2019. I had a quick few months to prepare and boy was it worth it! 

Because it was my first marathon, I really had to come up with a plan that fit my schedule. I know that many people will end up training 5-6 days per week for a marathon, but I felt like there had to be another way. 

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With balancing work, taking care of my dog, and having time for household chores and spending time with friends, I knew that I needed a plan that felt doable for me. 

Upon searching the internet I found an article about research done at Furman University and runners who trained (ran) 3 days per week. 

I was really excited by this possibility because it felt manageable for my life. When I saw how the people improved, I got really excited! 

I also knew that in running 3 days per week (1 speed workout, 1 tempo run, 1 long run), I would decrease my chance of overtraining which can lead to injury. 

So, I started out on my plan. I had to plan for a week out of town for a wedding. Although I still got in some 5 mile runs, I did not have time (or the space, really) to do a 20 mile run. 

There were a few game changers for me that I want to share with you during my marathon training. 

  • WaterPack - This truly makes all the difference in the world. If I run over 6 miles, I always bring this to stay hydrated. It also has some pockets to hold Sport Beans, or any other energy you want to bring with you on a run 

  • New music - I love listening to uplifting and pump up music when I run. Research has showed that you work out harder with music than without, so I highly recommend it. 
  • Pre-Long run dinner - This is important to me. I always try to get healthy protein and veggies in the night before my long run. One of my go to's was a mediterranean salad with shrimp. That gave me intense energy and powered me through my run. 
  • Oatmeal for breakfast- I noticed that this makes a big difference in my running pace and how I feel. I put cinnamon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds in my oatmeal. After it's cooked I add almond milk and maple syrup. Yum!! 
  • Mindset - How you feel getting out during your training runs is so important. For my long runs, I made sure to think about how far I had to go to the halfway point. Then I would tell myself, "okay, now I just need to run back!" I've got this. Even if the mileage seems like so much, remember that you have come this far - you can do it! 
  • Post run - collagen, I recommend Vital Proteins collagen as well as this vegan protein powder. This helps rebuild your muscles and decrease pain or soreness in the joints. Click on the picture below to check it out!

  • Epsom salt foot soaks- These helped to decrease soreness and tension in my feet after long runs! 

Day Before the Marathon 

Luckily, we were in the Outer Banks two days ahead of the race. So we were able to drive most of the course to check it out! This was a really nice aspect because I was able to visualize myself running the course. 

This is something that is very helpful before you do something because it preps your brain to know you can handle it. This way, if any doubt comes in, you're already in the "I can do this" mindset. 

Research has also shown that with visualization, your body actually activates the muscles on a cellular level, this means that you are practicing without actually going out there and even doing it! 

That night, we had Butter Chicken for dinner (one of my favorite meals) and that I've seen before I have great runs after. Note: always try out a meal before a long run before the actual race! 

I did my best to shower and get into bed by 9pm so that I could rest and relax before falling asleep around 10pm before race day! 

The Day of the Marathon

I woke up, had my signature oatmeal. I was actually nervous and very excited at the same time. Before this race I did have a cup of coffee (now I don't drink coffee anymore), but I was able to drink that and have water. 

I got water in my water pack and gently walked around the hotel room and got loose as I was preparing. 

And then, it was to the start line! There is no feeling like that. I was so excited to be running my first marathon, that I told myself I was just going to have fun and enjoy the ride! 

The first few miles were through a winding neighborhood with people cheering, drinking their coffee on their decks. 

It was so cute seeing little kids out there cheering with signs. They made a big difference in terms of keeping the energy and motivation up. 

One very helpful piece of my journey was that my boyfriend met me at a few mile spots with water and a Nuun electrolyte tablet. This was very helpful to give me more energy! I am thankful for that. 

I also use Sport Beans during long race and those are a great energy reboot! I like the ones with caffeine and the watermelon are my favorite. 

The hardest part of the marathon was at mile 18, my hip flexors started tightening up. This made it difficult for me to go fast, although I was still able to run. The next toughest was a steep uphill at mile 24. 

However, in the last mile I knew I could finish strong. And I did! 

There is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment of acheiving one of your goals! It was my goal to finish in under 4 hours and I did! 

My time was 3:44 as seen below. I came in 6th in my age group and was the 16th woman overall to finish the race!


Oh, and after, we celebrated with champagne on the beach. Make sure you celebrate your accomplishments! That's half the fun of it. 

 Have you run a marathon or would you like to run a certain race someday? What's holding you back? Let me know! I coach runners to improve their nutrition, movement, and mindset to help them achieve their goals. 

Sign up for a free consultation here. 


Related posts: 

Why I Decided to Run the 2019 Outer Banks Marathon 

How to Become a Runner Today 

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