There’s nothing quite like your first race – all those weeks spent training for a new challenge, the anticipation of crossing the finish line, and the nerves about the experience itself. But don’t let stress get the best of you and overshadow your race day excitement.
These tips can ensure you’re ready for the big event:
- Trust your training. If you followed a training plan, have faith in your ability to finish the distance. Don’t second guess yourself and do an extra run just so you feel ready. Remember you can always take walk breaks and finishing – no matter the time – is a huge accomplishment.
- Don’t try anything new. Don’t eat differently than you have been throughout training in the days leading up to your race – you don’t want to risk stomach problems. Run in the same shoes and same clothes you’ve been training in, too – halfway through the course would not be the ideal time to learn that your new shorts cause chafing.
- Look at the course map and elevation profile. If there’s a huge hill in the mile before the finish, it helps to know about it. Check out the race’s website beforehand so there are no surprises.
- Lay out your clothes the night before. Early race mornings can be frantic. So set out your clothes, shoes, fuel, bib, and anything else you’ll need for the race the night before so you don’t forget anything important.
- Dress in layers. You can always take clothes off if you get too hot, so overdress. Consider wearing old clothes to keep warm at the start and then toss them to the side of the road once the gun goes off. Several races donate tossed clothing to charity.
- Arrive at the race sight early. Give yourself plenty of time to park, pick up your bib and packet if needed, use the bathroom, and warm up. If it’s a large race, allow for even more time for traffic and the walk to the start line. You don’t want to run late on race day.
- Bring a support crew. There’s nothing like seeing familiar faces on the sidelines cheering for you – it’s the ultimate pick-me-up. It’s also a lot of fun to have people to celebrate with you after you finish.
- Relax. No one will know you’re a newbie who’s never raced before. In fact, it may not hurt to tell other runners around you that it’s your first race – you’ll likely be surprised by how supportive they are.
- Take pictures before and after the race. There’s a good chance you might get hooked on this racing thing. You’ll appreciate being to look back at photos of your first race experience.
- Have fun. You worked hard to get to the start line. Consider the race your victory lap – you survived training and now you can celebrate. So smile, high-five spectators, cheer on your fellow runners, and enjoy the ride to the finish line.
Written by Jen Matz.