Olympic Marathon Team Runner Jared Ward: Tips For Running Your First Marathon

GLUKOS Energy sponsored athlete Jared Ward offers his first-time marathon advice. GLUKOS is the Official Gel & Gummie of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series.

First time marathon advice is hard. I feel like I’m faced with a lose-lose every time I’m asked. I either open up the floodgates of experience giving so much advice that none of it sticks; or I offer limited pearls in hopes something resonates, and consequently ensure I neglect something. Further, everyone’s situation is different. Training, genetics, diet, and goals together offer few repeated data points. Compound that with different courses/weather and you’ll never be able to find a fool-proof plan. In the end listening to your body is my best advice, but if you’re running your first marathon then how do you know what your body is saying… Now we are back to the start. However this would not make a very fulfilling blog if I ended now, so at the expense of inevitably missing something, I’m going to offer some of what I’ve learned.

Don’t start faster than you have trained for. Pay attention to what you can handle on your long runs, and make a hard cap on how fast you are going to let yourself start. I don’t know the number of times I’ve been in the elite meetings the night prior to races and guys start changing their starting pace plans because the group is going to start faster. Why would you try to run faster than you have prepared for? You are living on a prayer—and asking for something you haven’t worked for.

Practice like you are going to be racing. If your marathon has some hills, mix some of that into your training. If it’s going to be hot, try to do some runs in the middle of the day. Practice finding what nutrition works for you—I practice with the GLUKOS I take during the marathon every long run. And run in the shoes that you plan to race in for some of your runs. I get into my Saucony Type A’s at least once a week. You will want to train with the on-course nutrition for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and can pick up your Sample Pack here.


Find ways to make training and racing fun. Get into a running group, or find people in your skill level to commit to the same race. You are going to be more motivated at 6 a.m. for that run when there is someone else holding you accountable.

Set reasonable goals. Goals too low aren’t motivating. Goals too high stress us out. You know you have the right goal when setting it empowers you. If your goal makes you anxious, it is probably too high; if it doesn’t get you out of bed, then it’s not big enough. Sometimes goals need adjusted along the way. If injury hits and you begin to fell nervous about your goal, then you need to reset your goal to a realistic level. If things are going better than expected, don’t hesitate to push your goal a little higher.301A2608_A

Treat race day like it’s just another run—because it is. You get up and run all the time, and race day is no different. Have a plan, and trust in your ability to execute it.

Most importantly have fun in the process of learning to push your body to new heights. This is the thrill of running for me. I love trying and do something better or faster than I have ever before done. Embrace the challenge. The marathon is you vs you. Win the battle.

– Jared Ward




GLUKOS is the Official Gel & Gummie of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Series. Learn more about GLUKOS at glukosenergy.com.