If you’re ready to compete in your first road race, congratulations! It takes hard work and dedication to get to this point. You’re going to have a great experience. Here are four tips you can use to calm your pre-race jitters and have a fantastic inaugural run.
If your race starts at 8:00 AM, you should arrive on-site by 7AM at the latest. You’ll be surprised by how long it takes to find a parking spot and walk to the race’s starting line. Roads within several blocks of the start will be completely closed to traffic, causing a slow-moving back-up for you to navigate. You can easily end up parked 10 or15 minutes away from the starting line.
Once you arrive, you’ll be surrounded by thousands of other runners and supporters At big races, there could be 40,000 people jammed into one spot. You’ll have to find your starting corral, do your pre-race stretches, and make sure you’re in the right spot while everyone else is doing the same thing. Most races have high-tempo music playing and announcements about weather, first aid stations, and photographer locations. Any extra waiting time will fly by.
Don’t Wear Your Race Shirt
Although you’ll pick up your official race shirt a few days before the race, you shouldn’t wear it until you’ve completed the race. Since the shirt is intended to recognize you as a race finisher, you’re tempting fate by wearing it during your run. It sounds silly, but it’s a long-standing tradition among runners If you want to look like you belong, wear something else. You can wear race shirts from previous years, sweat-wicking work-out shirts, or a jersey or T-shirt with a customized message.
You Don’t Need to Carry Water
A 5k race will have at least one water station. Longer runs will offer hydration every mile or two. Each stop will be staffed by enthusiastic volunteers who will give you as many pa per cups of water as you would like. Don’t weigh yourself down by lugging your own water around.
Avoid Overeating at the Finish
When you get to the finish line of your first race, you’ll be greeted by a feast. You might find doughnuts, pizza, bananas, and chocolate milk all at one event. It’s tempting to load up on the free food, but you could end up with serious stomach pains. Limit yourself to one item at a time. You’ll be able to grab chips, crackers, and other packaged goods to munch on later.
For your first race, you don’t want to run past the finish line and straight to your car. Most races end with a party, and you deserve to celebrate. The post-race festivities might include live music, a DJ throwing a dance party, and an awards ceremony. You can get your picture taken holding up your finisher’s medal or with your arms around your support crew. Massages, physical therapy, and group stretching is also available. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes enjoying the end of your run.
Don’t be nervous about your first time running a race. You’re joining a supportive community and beginning a healthy, life-long habit. You’ll be the one handing out advice to new runners in no time at all.