7 tips to prepare your first running race

Entering a race is a great way to test how far you have come, but it can be a bit intimidating to think about running against others. Part of the problem is in the name: a “race “means that the goal is to beat other people, but the only person you compete against for your first race is you. Whether you come first or last doesn’t matter, the key to finishing and feeling good. It can be easy to forget all you’ve learned in training, but we have some great tips to help you experience your first race. 

1.Have a good breakfast 

Nerves can make it hard to eat, but a good breakfast will help you make the most of your experience. Try a simple meal, such as toast or porridge, because it will help you to fuel the event. Take two hours to eat before the start of the race and avoid things like fruit that can upset your stomach during the race.

2.Wear the right kit 

Just wear the running kit you worn before, because you don’t want to chew or rub in the race. Make sure you dress in colder days for the weather and lay down. Double on socks or wear double-layer socks because blistering is prevented. If it rains or it’s cold, you can wear a bin bag at the beginning, which can be chucked to one side after the gun. Some races collect discarded goods for charity, so that you can wear an old jumper that you no longer need to stay warm. Check if there is a bag drop, as you can leave spare clothes here for a quick change after the race.

3.Just be on time

There’s nothing worse than running late in the day of the race, because you won’t be able to concentrate on the event in hand and you won’t have the chance to prepare well. Set the alarm early and get to the event about an hour before the time of the gun to make sure you can park, take water and check your kit.

4.Hold on a friend

The worst part of a race is the waiting on the starting line for the gun to fire even for experienced runners. This wait may seem to be continuing forever. This is when supporting others is key to keeping your minds and your nerves high. If you can have a friend with you, you can distract from the race ahead. Make sure you have family and friends at the beginning to cheer on you, because this will help you to remember why you are in the race. 

5.Continue to drink

It’s important to take plenty of fluid on board, regardless of distance or weather. There is no need for sports drinks like Lucozade for a race of less than six miles. Just water is fine, but make sure you drink it slowly over time instead of drinking it in one go. Find out if a water station is on the way, as this might mean you don’t have to carry a bottle with you. If you’re running for 30 minutes or less, get on the water before you start and you don’t have to stop until you’re done. 

6.Start from the back

It is tempting to go to the front of a race so you can start clearly, but it pays to start at the back. In many races these days you will wear a chip from when you cross the starting line until you finish, so it doesn’t matter how far you start. Starting from behind means you’re starting at a better pace, but it’s also good for motivation, because you’re going to pass people right from the start.

7.Look forward to yourself

It is easy to start a race too fast and this can lead to an early burnout. Wear a watch and know how long you should run every mile or kilometer in advance so you can finish at a good, steady pace in your own time. Then, make sure you keep up, accelerate or slow down as needed. Do not try to keep up with those around you; you are likely to pass many of these people when they start tired. 

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