Conquering my first marathon – and a few tips I’ve learned along the way

Tara Bruce shares tips on prepping for marathonHad you asked me two years ago, I never would have told you that running a marathon was something I would one day accomplish.  Like many, I assumed marathons were for dedicated athletes and super humans – my 3-5 leisurely miles a week didn’t qualify me as either.

When I signed up for the TMC Meet Me Downtown 5k in the summer of 2015 as a part of the FEAT program, I had no idea I would be starting on a journey that would lead me to the Boston Marathon.

After the 5k, I slowly started to run more miles, engaging with local running groups and picking the brains of the talented athletes in the TMC family.  It was the stories of other strong, fast and brave men and women I met during this time that shifted my perspective of what it meant to be a runner.  It was less about being a super human and more about having a passion for the sport.

Flash forward 15 months.  After a handful of TMC races, including the Tri for Kindness and the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown, I signed up for the Phoenix Marathon with a goal of running a qualifying time for Boston.

Training for a marathon was one of the most mentally and physically challenging experiences I have ever gone through.  Once again, I leaned on the knowledge and experience of my co-workers and running buddies to get me through the ups and downs, learning a lot along the way.  I managed to finish with a time of 3:16:49 and plan on racing the Boston Marathon in 2018!  Until then, here are a few tips I learned along the way in training for my first marathon…

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

How many of us have made the choice to train for a race only to find ourselves burned out or injured a week later?  Tucson has a robust running community of certified running coaches, running clubs, athletes and everyday runners who can help you plan and train for your race for the best results.

  1. Find a Running Buddy

The support of your running friends plays a major role in the entire process.  You are running more miles than ever before. There’s nothing better than finding a few people who will do 20-plus miles with you on their Sunday morning.

  1. Smart Running is a real thing

It’s not just about running as fast as you can!  How many times have you heard runners of every level say, “I went out too fast.”  Strategy and patience during the race was the key to getting me across the finish line.

  1. Listen to your body

Training for a marathon is a lifestyle change and can take a toll on your body if you don’t ease into things.  If your training plan says one thing – and your body is telling you another – don’t ignore that message.

  1. Good shoes

I can’t stress enough that there’s a difference between a pair of shoes and the RIGHT pair of running shoes.  If you’re going to invest the time in the training, your shoes are a crucial part to keep you injury-free and enjoying the miles ahead.  Many local stores will also do footwear analysis, so if you don’t know what the right fit is for you, ask! It’s easy to find out.

  1. Don’t do something if you don’t like it

After a while, if you aren’t in love with whatever physical activity you are doing, try something new.  Not every day of marathon training is going to be great – but you should never be jogging on the path and saying, “When is this over? I hate running.”  Once you find something that gets you excited to move and be active, there’s no stopping you from accomplishing amazing things!

Tara A. Bruce is the assistant manager for retail & wellness outreach for Tucson Medical Center.



  1. Danielle says:

    I love this article! Such a motivational message and congratulations on your stellar marathon time!

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