February 24, 2015
March 21, 2016
Signing up for your first race can be a scary thought. You wonder if you’ll have time to train, or if you’ll be able to finish the race once you get there.
I remember thinking these things before signing up for my first race, so I decided to come up with some tips and tricks that got me to the finish line!
TIPS FOR TRAINING
–Find a training plan that works for you. And be honest. Some people just aren’t going to run 6 days a week. Either it’s a scheduling conflict, or you simply don’t want to. If this is you, don’t pick a training plan that requires this much running. If you’re doing a 5K you could probably get by with running 3-4 days a week as long as you stick with it and make your runs count (meaning, don’t slack off). I prefer to run 5 days a week. This gives me two rest days for my legs to heal and, probably more importantly, it gives my brain time to mentally regroup.
–Make it part of your routine. You might be thinking ,”DUH. You have to train if you’re doing a race!” But there’s a little more to it than that. Once you find the right training plan, make up your mind to keep the timing consistent. That means, if you have a run scheduled for Monday nights every week don’t switch it up because someone calls you up and wants to go to the movies, dinner, etc. Treat your training as if it’s important. Because it is!
–Have fun with it! You have committed to prepping your body for your first 5K. Embrace training and have fun with it. Invite friends to go on a lunch time power walk. Create a playlist that builds momentum. Make a fun, colorful running calendar that you can physically check off each time you finish.
–Shoes matter! I hear a lot of people say, “I can’t run. It hurts my knees/back/shins/etc!” Like with any sport, running can take its toll on the body. You’ll be sore any time you step up your training. But, like with any sport, you need to have the right equipment. If you’re running in the old athletic shoes you found in the back of the closet, they’re almost certainly the source of your pain. The right shoes will offer your body the support and cushioning it needs to keep from feeling unnecessary pain. I would suggest going to a running store that offers gait analysis. They’ll put you on a treadmill and study the way you run. Then they’ll show you which shoes you need to provide the perfect support!
TIPS FOR NUTRITION
–Some of it is trial and error. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn when I started running. This is another reason training is so important. It gives you a chance to make mistakes before race day. For example, I learned early in the game that if I ate a taco 12-pack from Taco Bell right before going for a run I would end up sick as a dog and go home early. For some people, they can eat anything without getting nauseous. Others aren’t so lucky. Experiment with what’s easy on your stomach, as well as how long you should wait after eating. I would suggest something light like a banana and some toast if you’re going on a morning run. Oatmeal is good, as well, and typically easy on the stomach.
–It’s important to replace lost nutrients and fluids. After running, make sure you replace what you lost. I would suggest keeping some fruit on hand for afterward. Drink plenty of water throughout the day as well. This will make sure you’re good to go the next time you need to run.
–Don’t overdo it the night before race day. You hear lots of people encourage “carbo-loading” before a race. This is where you eat something high in carbohydrates to supply you with energy the next day. However, this isn’t an excuse to gorge yourself. I personally like to have pasta the night before races or long runs, but only eat as much as you normally would. Don’t overstuff yourself. This could cause you to wake up sluggish and slow, or cause digestive problems on race morning (which is definitely NOT when you need problems like this!).
TIPS FOR RACE DAY
–Show up early! And by “early” I don’t mean 10 minutes early. I mean an hour early at least. This will give you time to deal with anything unexpected that may happen. My brother once showed up for a race and then realized he forgot his running shoes! Obviously, this is an extreme case. Still, you never know what could happen! Show up early and get a quick warm-up in. Go to the bathroom. Drink a cup of coffee. Sit back and watch everyone who didn’t plan ahead freak out when anything goes wrong.
–Be calm and trust your training. This is easier said than done, obviously. Excitement on race morning isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it can give you the adrenaline you need to run a little faster! Don’t be afraid though. If you trained for the race and did your best, you’ll finish the race.
–Celebrate! Even if you cross the finish line a little slower than you would have liked, be sure to celebrate your accomplishment! Training isn’t easy, and racing isn’t easy. Most people don’t do races! Most people are still sleeping as you cross the finish line! So celebrate the fact that you did something wonderful!