Five things to know before running a marathon

For many, running a marathon is high up on the bucket list. It' a major accomplishment, but getting to the starting line is a daunting, three to six-month task. And once you're at the starting line, you have 26.2 intimidating miles staring you in the face. But, with a proper pre-race ritual, and a positive mindset, you can turn running a marathon from scary to exciting. Here are five things you should know to help you prepare for your best 26.2 yet. Fuel up wisely before the race. "Carbo-load" is one of the first things many new runners associate with race weekend. While getting sufficient carbohydrates is important, you need to avoid overdoing it. Try this endurance calculator to see how many carbohydrates you need to meet your goal time. Get your best sleep two nights before the race. It' nearly impossible to avoid those nervous butterflies the night before your big race. That' why experts suggest that the sleep two nights before your race is the most important. To make sure you're getting proper rest before the big day, follow the REM-Fit race weekend rest plan. Visualize the course the night before your race. As mentioned above, getting a full-night' rest before the big day is tough. To ease your nerves, spend some time visualizing yourself running the course. Note milestones to look for that will make running a marathon more exciting. Find out where you will get water/ sports drinks, and make a plan for fueling up with your electrolyte-filled sports chews. You can also spend time navigating the start corrals to give you a feel for where the bathrooms are, and how to get where you need to be on time. Segment the race into smaller milestones. Don't think of running a marathon as 26.2 miles; that will suck all the mental willpower out of you very quickly in the beginning of the race. Instead, portion the race out into smaller chunks. Get through the first seven with a conservative pace , don't push yourself too early. Then, think of seven through 20 as a half marathon. Follow your race pace during these miles. Get through that half, and you have six to go. Use your heart as your guide here, and finish strong. You're almost there! Enjoy the day! Easier said than done, of course, but while you're out there, remember the goal you had from day one , and how far you've come. Enjoy the supportive crowd, blare your favorite tunes and wear a smile on your face. When times get tough, remember the terrible hill run you did in the rain. When you need motivation, think about your excited friends and family waiting for you at the finish line. And when you finish, don't just focus on the time on the clock. Embrace the fact that you stuck through it and completed 26.2 miles , a feat many can only dream of.