If you are just getting into running, signing up for your first race is the best way to keep yourself motivated and on track. When it comes to races, beginners usually choose 5K events because they will get a chance to experience the real feeling of a race and the distance is not too demanding. If you follow a right training program, you will be able to prepare for a 5K race in several weeks.
So if your race day is just around the corner and you are anxious to start running, keep in mind that you need to get everything set for the big day. There are a couple of things you should do before and during the race in order to make the whole process easier. So let's start.
1. Sign up for a local race
If this is your first race ever, local is the way to go. There will be no need for traveling in order to get there, you will rest in your own bed, and you are probably already familiar with the route. Also, don't forget to tell your friends and family about the race because their support and encouragement will get you through the toughest moments.
2. Pack everything you need
I prefer packing my gear the night before the race. Let's be real here - you will probably be nervous in the morning and you shouldn't stress about the minor details. So choose your race outfit and lay it out in a visible place. Prepare your bib number, tracker, and a music player of your choice (if it is allowed in the race). You will know that your things are ready so you'll be able to relax in the morning.
Getting enough sleep before your race is really important. Yes, you will be thinking about the big day and feel very excited, but do your best to go to bed early and rest as much as you can. You will be full of energy in the morning and more focused on the task ahead.
4. Eat breakfast
Running a race on an empty stomach is not recommended. Get up early and prepare your typical pre-run meal. You should eat at least two hours before the race. Keep it light and nutritious and choose something that will be easily digestible. Oatmeal with banana works well for the majority of runners. My pre-run breakfast of choice is a smoothie and I always stick to it.
5. Arrive early
Arriving early to a race will give you enough time to warm up and chat with other runners. I always put on my favorite music while I warm up because it calms my nerves and makes me more focused on my movement. You will also have enough time to drink water and visit a toilet a couple of times before the race actually starts. You don't want to be caught off guard in the middle of your run, do you?
6. Don't stress about your speed
If this is your first race, stick with the newbies. Don't go hard from the very beginning because you will get tired quickly and burn out. So find your typical rhythm that is comfortable and run your own race. The goal should be to cross the finish line. So remember your training process and take it easy.
Hydration is very important during running so don't skip the water stations. There will be plenty of stations during a 5K race so make the best of it. Ease your pace, ask a volunteer for water, drink it up, and get back into your race. Don't linger around, unless you are feeling sick and need medical help.
8. Focus on each kilometer
I tend to divide a race in a couple of segments in order to make it easier and more fun. So you can switch up your tempo on each kilometer, or go slower in the second part of the race in order to run your last kilometer faster and cross the finish line like a boss. You can view each kilometer as a personal tiny race and you will not feel overwhelmed by the total distance.
9. Don't feel discouraged
Yes, running is hard and you have to push yourself a bit. Stay positive and be in the moment. You are surrounded by runners who are fighting the same battle so draw inspiration from them. Remind yourself that you can do it and think about how good you will feel when you cross the finish line.
10. Enjoy the moment
Running a race should be a positive experience so try to enjoy each and every moment. You will meet a lot of people who share the same interests and you might even end up with a new running buddy. So have fun and rejoice in the runner's high.