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10 Tips on Running Your First Race

So you've picked a race to run, paid your entry, done some training (hopefully) & it's race day. Here are a few tip that should help with the process a little.

1: Get there early

The race organisers have probably already told you to do this, but it's good advice for a few reasons. The first one is that you are probably going to have to collect your race number & timing chip. If you leave it late, there may be congestion & long queue's which won't aid your pre-race preparation. Getting there early includes checking directions & working out the logistics on how to get there before the day of the race. Typically you will have a Sunday morning event with a 9am/10am start, public transport isn't as regular as you think on a Sunday. Be prepared. A good event organiser will have some guidance on how to get there on their website or pre-event emails so look out for these.

2: Don't over/under dress

If you are running the London Marathon or Great North Run then the same principle still applies as when you come to a RunThrough event or any smaller race. You don't need to bring much. Most races will have a baggage tent which are the safest way to store your stuff but do you really need two coats,cute-clothes-for-gym-running-workout-2 a packed lunch and a your Canon DSLR? No, a bottle of water will be enough. You can wear a jacket, pair of leggings & the trainers you run in. That will be sufficient for 80% of the races you do. Obviously if the event is ultra muddy then you may want a change of clothes & maybe a snack for after. Most events have food for sale, our RunThrough events we give out bananas at the end which are perfect for recovery but you will be told this in your pre-race information or on the event website.

3: Eat before you run

If you tend to train in the evenings then a morning race will be a little different. Generally I'd recommend you eat 2/2.5 hours before your race & have a good meal the night before the race. Have a look at our article HERE on what one of our coaches recommends.

4: Pin your number/bib on properly & make sure you chip is secure

There is nothing more annoying for a runner or a the chip timing people than a flapping number. If you secure the number on securely with pins that 200199729-002will probably be available from the registration desk you shouldn't have any issues. In terms of attaching your timing chip, there will normally be instructions near the registration desks or it will be pretty self explanatory.

5: Don't line up at the front

Normally the runners who want to win the race start at the front. Not that you can't win it, yet, but if you are running for the first time you'd be best placed in the middle of the pack so you have a bit of company & so that not everyone zooms past you.

6: Use the water stations

Most events will have a water station, if you're doing a 5k/10k you don't need water. Unless it's a ridiculously hot day, the chances are that you won't need to take on board liquid during the race. That is of course if you have hydrated properly pre-race. A couple of pints of liquid before you leave the house and sip your bottle up until 10 minutes before. No too much. You don't want to have to stop and take a number two in a bus water bottlehalf way round, or worse do what Paula Radcliffe did on one of her Marathon world record attempts.

7: Pace yourself

Start of within yourself, that means don't run as fast as you can for the first couple of miles. You will fatigue and you won't enjoy the last few miles. If anything set off a little slower than you do in training because you will be finishing quicker once you get into the race & you want to beat the person in front of you.

8: Smile

Just smile. Running is fun. Enjoy it.

9: Don't look at your watch the whole way round

Lots of people who train with a Garmin or a watch tend to start to rely on it for feedback. You don't need it. Especially if you're a newbie. Just run. You may end up surprising yourself how fast you run.

10: Make a friend

In a race the likelihood is that you will end up running side by side with a complete stranger for long periods. When you finish, shake their hand an have a chat. You probably have a lot in common.

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About Matt Wood

Matt Wood
Ex-England International track athlete over 1500m, Sports Science graduate from Loughborough University and race manager at RunThrough events.

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