Use These Tips to Make the Most of Your First Race
The first race is a total blast. The entire experience is brand new, there’s plenty to learn and a big accomplishment to look forward to. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel a little nervous the days leading up to the race.
Whether you’re running to support a cause you believe in or you’re checking off a bucket list item, use these tips to make sure all of your ducks are in a row before you line up at the starting line.
The Week Before
Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of You. The first time we do anything can feel a bit stressful, and it’s usually because we overthink it. Remember that 5Ks and 10Ks are supposed to be fun, positive community events.
People of all fitness levels sign up to get outside and do something healthy for themselves while supporting a good cause. Have fun with it and congratulate yourself for signing up for something new.
If you’re prone to stress, lighten your schedule the week before the race so you can stay focused on your goal (and prevent yourself from finding a reason to bail).
Get Some Sleep. Proper sleep before your race will make all the difference on race day. If you’re training for your race, aim to exercise in the morning or earlier in the day so you don’t disrupt your sleep schedule too much with evening workouts.
Prioritize Healthy Eating. Get your mind and your body in the right space to race with whole, healthy foods. When you make healthy choices throughout the week leading up to the race, you will feel much more equipped to conquer that run.
Scout the Trail Beforehand. Calm some of those nerves by covering the route before race day. When you know where you’re going, you can anticipate where you might get tired, where the bathrooms will be located, and where the best photo-op places are along the way.
Stick to Your Routine. The week before a race may not be the best time to stop drinking coffee or test out new gear. Stick to what you know works for you to prevent random injuries, discomfort or overwhelm.
The Night Before
Create Your Playlist. Your first race deserves a killer playlist. Make sure you have all your favorite pump-up jams queued up and ready to rock.
Lay Out Your Clothes and Bib. The more time you can save yourself in the morning, the better. Lay out your clothes the night before, and make sure your bib is attached. The last thing you want to do on race day is drive all the way back home to grab your bib!
Choosing Snacking Over Stuffing. Regardless of what you heard, carb loading isn’t actually the best thing to do before a race. It can actually upset your stomach, especially if you’re not used to eating loads of carbs on a regular basis. Stick to gut-friendly snacks and foods your body is used to.
Choose Your Goals. Think about what you want to accomplish during this race, and set your mind to it. Maybe you want to run an 8-minute mile, or maybe you want to limit walking to two 1-minute breaks. Get clear and specific about your goals so you have even more to celebrate when you reach the finish line.
Meal Prep. While there's no need to go all out on breakfast before your race, make sure you have your breakfast planned the night before. The less decisions you have to make in the morning, the better. If you're not the breakfast type, and your'e running a shorter race like a 5K, grab a Rowdy bar to fuel you up before you hit the road.
Hydrate Responsibly. Nerves may have you sipping heavily on your water bottle, but watch your intake! Too much water can deplete your electrolytes and make for an upset stomach once you start running. Aim to drink half your body weight in water throughout the day. Pace yourself, hydration is not the race!
Show Up Early. Don’t waste all your energy rushing around before the race. A good rule of thumb is to show up an hour early for your race to secure a parking spot and take care of any last minute registration details. You may also want to warm up, stretch, have a snack, and take a few pictures before you get started.
Layer Strategically. It may be cool when you arrive to the race location, but you will heat up pretty quickly once you start moving. Make sure you’re wearing proper layers so you can strip a few right before the race starts.
Set an Intention. As you wait in line for the race to start, think of an intention you would like to carry with you throughout the race. Maybe you want to stay present and focus on your breathing. Maybe you want to take in the scenery or express gratitude. Whatever it is, getting your mindset in the right place before you race can completely transform your race experience.
Start Slow. Refrain from burning up all your energy in the first mile. Start slow--slower than you usually would--and focusing on finding a steady rhythm to your stride and breath. You will be able to run a lot further without a break this way.
Are you a seasoned racer? Share your best tips for preparing for a race below!