Training for your first 26.2 is a daunting task — but an awesome goal. “Run a marathon” is on many people’s bucket lists. After your first marathon, you’ll go through a ton of emotions — pride, relief, pain (inevitable), hunger and, yes, wondering which marathon is up next. To help you prepare, we asked nine seasoned marathoners what they wish they knew before they headed to their very first start line.

Cassandra Pisone – San Francisco, CA


First Marathon: 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

Number of Marathons: 1 (next one will be 2016 LA Marathon)

What I Wish I Knew: “I wish I knew that it wasn’t just me that was hurting toward the end! I had to keep reminding myself that no one felt good after running 20+ miles — I wouldn’t have felt so alone!” (Photo via Almost Getting It Together)

Katie O’Grady + Agatha Kluk – New York, NY

Katie O'Grady Agatha Kluk Marathon

Katie’s First Marathon: 2011 NYC Marathon

Number of Marathons: 3

What I Wish I Knew: “I would highly recommend Lynx sports bras for my fellow double Ds out there! Also everyone should pick up “the STICK” for inevitable training and post-race aches and pains (especially for your IT band!!)”

Agatha’s First Marathon: Ocean Drive Marathon in Cape May, NJ in 2008

Number of Marathons: 14

What I Wish I Knew: “Do not underestimate the value of a good anti-chafing product.”

Lauren Seserko – Baltimore, Maryland


First Marathon: 2013 Baltimore Marathon

Number of Marathons: 2 (next one will be 2015 Chicago Marathon)

What I Wish I Knew: “I wish I knew that it was going to be harder than my training runs and sometimes things just happened, like my quads being super tight despite stretching all week. I also didn’t know how much of an emotional rollercoaster it would be with smiles, pain and tears all in one race!” (Photo via Breathe Deeply and Smile)

Susan Warcholak – Calgary, Canada


First Marathon: 2013 Kauai Marathon

Number of Marathons: 3 (next one will be 2015 Las Vegas Rock n’ Roll Marathon)

What I Wish I Knew: “I wish I had realized I was only ever going to experience my first marathon once and had taken time to appreciate the incredible journey of 26.2 instead of being worried about every little thing.” (Photo via Do Things Always)

Susie Lemmer – Chicago, IL


First Marathon: 2013 DC Marine Corps Marathon

Number of Marathons: 3 (with number 4 being Boston 2016)

What I Wish I Knew: “Every marathon is a collection of small steps. Rejoice in each one, and think of how happy you’ll be!” (Photo via Suzlyfe)

Elisabeth McClellan – Simi Valley, CA


First Marathon: 2010 DC National Museum Marathon (Now Rock n’ Roll DC Marathon)

Number of Marathons: 9 (and one ultra-marathon!)

What I Wish I Knew: “Having a training, pace and nutrition plan dramatically increases the odds of a good race.” (Photo via @RunWiki)

Courtney Shrum – Seattle, WA


First Marathon: 2014 Chuckanut Mountain Marathon

Number of Marathons: 2

What I Wish I Knew: “Your mental game is so much more than your physical game. Don’t get me wrong — the physical plays a big role — but the mental keeps you going!” (Photo via Rain Soaked Run)

Nona – Flagstaff, AZ


First Marathon: 2012 Phoenix Rock n’ Roll Marathon

Number of Marathons: 4, including a Boston 2016 Qualifier

What I Wish I Knew: “I wish I had known just how much of a mental battle it is! The last six miles are the worst, and it will be much more mental than physical. It hurts — more than I was prepared for — and that took a huge toll on my mental strength! Your body is capable of the distance; that’s what training is for. The biggest battle towards the end will be silencing the little voice that wants to quit. Just remember, you can do hard things!” (Photo via @nona_runs)

Have you ever run a marathon? What would you like to tell yourself before your first race?