Running Your First Race
Do you remember the exhilaration and nerves of running your first race as a child?
It’s been a while since I last raced and so this is as much for all the new runners out there as it is for me! Since it’s been about 11 months since I last raced, there are 2 things that I really want to focus on so that I can have a good race.
The first thing is being patient early in the race. I know that my adrenaline will be pumping and I’ll want to get out fast with the people around me. I’ll need to really be careful to run an even race. The second is finishing aggressive and not letting runners pass me in the last 1k of the race. If I run smart early, I’ll keep my competition behind me and have a fast finish!
Coming back to running and racing after a long layoff? If so, then this article is for you. Whether it’s been months, years or a lifetime since your last race and this is your rust buster, your “new first race” or literally your first race ever, you’ll want to follow these 3 strategies to nail your race.
First, you’ll want to watch a race as a spectator, then you’ll want to ask questions from your runner friends, and finally, you’ll want to create a running routine or a running plan that you can follow. If you carry through with these 3 tasks, you’ll be sure to have a good first race.
Be a Spectator
Before you head off for your first race, go to a race as a spectator. See what the best runners do and see what you feel you can add into your running repertoire.
- Try a warm-up jog.
- Do striders.
- Keep your muscles warm.
Then watch how the experienced runners pace themselves. The more controlled their pace is early on (they aren’t sprinting even though they are running fast), the better they’ll finish.
After you’ve watched a race, pick 2 to 3 things you learned to put into practice when you race.
Make a checklist to help you remember and follow through with what you want to put into action. This includes packing a bag the night before the race.
Ask Questions (& Do Your Own Research)
Find a group of experienced runners – either in person at a group run or on an online fashion like a Facebook group and ask lots of questions.
Runners have their opinions on how to train correctly, so take their advice and do your own research. Not everyone is qualified, with coaching certificates and degrees to give specific advice, but their advice is a great starting point for you. Remember, not everyone knows your exact situation – they are just going off of what they know, so be careful when eliciting advice.
After hearing from your runner-friends, jump online to do some of your own investigating. See what is out there and look for advice/information from reputable sources.
Create a pre-race routine
Think about the things you saw the experienced runners do. What helped them be successful? These are the type of things you’ll want to incorporate into your routine.
Remember, if you haven’t practiced it, don’t try it on race day! That being said, try to implement some of what you saw into your own plan.
Give yourself enough practice runs to put your plan into action. The more complicated the task you’re trying to accomplish, the more you’ll need to practice it.
Recapping How to Run Your First Race
So you’ve signed up for a race. That’s the easy part. You’ll obviously want to do some training and while you’re training, you’ll want to create a plan for reaching your racing goals. Start by checking out a race and see what the experienced runners do. (They’ll be the runners running before the race even starts!)
Next, go home and do some research. Ask questions to your running friends and then investigate. Still not sure? There are coaches you can seek out for deeper questions you might have. Finally, build a pre-race routine to follow.
If you follow this roadmap, I have no doubt you’ll find the success you’re after.
Need more on racing? Let’s go!
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I am a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!