I recently received a request from a reader to write this blog post, and can’t believe I haven’t done it sooner. I’m working as an ambassador for Kiqplan, helping people to start running with the 16 week beginner plan for a 5K or 10K. Signing up for a race, although nerve racking, is the perfect motivation to stick with your training as you work towards your end goal.
I remember how nervous I was before my first race, how I laid out all of my kit the night before, restlessly tried to get n early night, and got to the race start about 5 hours too early!
Here are my top tips for getting through your first race stress free so that you can enjoy it!
- Work out how you’re going to get to the race BEFORE signing up. A lot of races start quite early and often public transport isn’t running at that time, or there are line closures. I’ve had to get a taxi to the start of some races- not cost efficient!
- Encourage some friends or family to sign up, it is far more fun (and less scary) to turn up with a group of supporters or other runners. If you’ve got supporters coming to watch, work out where they are going to be standing so that you don’t miss each other.
- Train properly for the distance, there is nothing worse than feeling totally undertrained and lacking confidence at the start line. The kiqplan app is great for this and gets your totally race ready for your first 5 or 10K race!
- Have a look at the race course and profile, it is awfully unpleasantly to be surprised by a huge number of hills during the race.
- Practise your night before and pre-race meal, making sure you feel fuelled but not too full. What works for some people may not work for you! I usually eat toast with peanut or almond butter and a banana before a race.
- If you’re going to be using fuel during the race (gels, sweets, beans etc) make sure you have taken them before- there is nothing worse than a dodgy tummy during the run because you’ve tried something new. In general, I only use fuel for distances of half marathon or more.
- Lay out all of your kit the day before and make sure you have everything you need, this includes safety pins, bib, timing chip, info for the race start, your outfit, snacks etc. Don’t forget to charge your watch, phone, ipod too!
- Work out how early you need to get to the race- be warned the race pack always tells you to get there much earlier than you need. Especially if it’s cold outside, take the arrival time with a pinch of salt. When you arrive the first thing to do is bag drop swiftly followed by a trip to the loo- the queues are often massive!
- Start in the right area for your pace, often people start too near the front or back and find it hard to get going. If there are pacers, it’s a good idea to start with them even if you don’t run with them the whole way.
- Do not start too fast! It can be easy to get carried away and speed off, only to run out of steam and have to slow down a little while later.
- Enjoy your race- you’ve earned that medal!