3 Tips for Running Your First Race

Running Your First Race

Do you remember the exhilaration and nerves of running your first race as a child?

3 Useful Tips to Running Your First Race
3 Tips for Running Your 1st Race

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!

3 Tips to Calming Nerves on Race Day
Calming your nerves so you can race well

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.

    TrainwithMarc's Race Day Running Routine
    Race Day Routine

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.31028148561_ef252f8b04_o

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.

What to do so you can calm your race-day nerves
What to do so you can calm your race-day nerves

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!)

3 Tips for Running Your 1st Race
3 Tips for Running Your 1st Race

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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Broad Street 10 Miler Race Checklist

Saving Energy on Race Day


Running Coaches Corner
Running Coaches Corner

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Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach

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!

15 thoughts on “3 Tips for Running Your First Race

  1. Great tips! It has been a long time since I ran my first race, but I would give newbie runners the same advice as you just did.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. deborahbrooks14 July 25, 2018 — 7:39 AM

    After all of these years, pacing myself is still something I struggle with

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Starting and following a routine is key for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s easy to get caught up in the crowd–remember what you did during training and run your own race!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s been 19+ years since my first race so I don’t need to spectate and ask questions, but definitely need to recreate a routine/plan.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Totally agree. It’s easy to “forget” and make a mistake that ends up costing you valuable minutes in a race.


  7. I hear you! My first mile of my 5k was 35 seconds faster than the other 2 miles. Lesson learned!


  8. These are great tips, especially setting a pre-race routine!


  9. I think that not going out too fast is really important for everyone but especially new racers. It’s so easy to get caught up in that “money in the bank” feeling.


  10. Oh yeah! The first mile of any longer race is never so difficult that it feels bad…until it catches up with you later in the race!!


  11. A new strategy I have been using is to do a short warm-up run…usually only a mile, but at a very easy pace. A coach told me (a long time ago) that a good warm-up run will not drain your energy, but should get the muscles (and the mind) ready for the start line. I guess that’s why we always see the “fast” runners jogging back and forth before a race 😉


  12. You have a great coach in your corner! A warm up is crucial.
    The shorter the race, the longer I warm up.


  13. I did 0 of these things for my first race…and didn’t train for it either. But I’ll cut myself some slack since I was 10!


  14. Well, yes, at 10 you get a reprieve!


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