Running your first race is a big moment for any runner. The anticipation can initiate anxiety, enthusiasm, and some magnificent delusions of grandeur. Perhaps less on the last two and more on the first one. There are some immeasurably useful tips/tools you should apply before, during, and after that first race. Some ritual like behavior that you will likely develop for all the following races you will sign up for, because trust me once you walk away with that bling you are going to crave some more.
- Plan your race, run your plan. Whatever your plan for the race has been up to this point stick to it on race day. You aren’t running against anyone but yourself. Run your race, your way, with your plan.
- Don’t eat anything unusual the night before. Eat whatever you usually do do before a run so you don’t have any awful digestive surprises. Play it safe.
- Review the course and the weather. Make sure you plan and adjust for weather the night before. If it’s going to rain, snow, or be excessively hot you’ll need to make adjustments.
- Good to bed early, chances are you’re going to be getting up early. A good nights rest can heavily impact your state and energy level during the race the next morning.
- Nest. This is my favorite thing and helps me battle my anxiety. I do it before long runs as well. I set out my clothing, my gear and have everything prepared to get up and go at a moments notice in the morning. I’ve gone as far as sleeping in my running clothes the night before.
- Arrive early. If you can, do it. And not just for your first race. It gives you wiggle room to use the bathroom, find your start, and join in the camaraderie of other runners before the event begins.
- Hit every water station whether you’re thirsty or not. I do this every single race. You are not going to over hydrate and when in the middle of the race you may think you don’t need it, but I assure you that you do.
- Ignore the urge to go out too fast at the start. In the excitement it’s easy to go out too fast and run your first few miles too quickly. The possibility for burning out and even possibly a DNF is not worth it. When you have several races under your belt you will have a better idea of how much to push and when to capitalize on that adrenaline.
- Finish with style. No matter how tired or gassed you are finish strong! Cross that line at full stride and with a smile on your face. This is your moment of glory!
- After you finish, refuel and get warm!
When I have followed through with these guidelines I’ve had some of my best runs. I had trained properly, and stuck to my plan and the results were great. When I haven’t I’ve felt like a failure because I knew how I let myself down. If you do all the work, you owe it to yourself to honor that training with a great race day. The best part is finishing. That’s when it’s time to celebrate and proudly wear your medal all day! You earned it!