Tips for First Time Racers

The most exciting part of my weekend was that my dad participated in his first ever race!  He ran in the 10k at the Cleveland Marathon.  My dad has always been pretty fit and healthy but has never tried anything like this so I was super excited that he was getting involved in one of my favorite hobbies. 

My dad was pretty nervous leading up to the race and called me for some tips.  There are a ton of books and websites out there about training and race prep but I think that in general,  most people running in their first race are doing it for fun and not to win, and of course any time is a PR so the first race experience can really make or break a person’s view of running.

So here are some basic fundamentals that I think are helpful to the first time racer:

1. Chose a distance that you are comfortable with.  This should be based on your level of fitness and health and how much you have run in training.  I think that the 10k is one of the most difficult race distances because it is not really a long-distance pace but 6.2 miles is not a sprint distance for most people. 

2. Train the way you will run, run the way you have trained.  This means that you should be doing some outdoor training and not just logging all of your miles on the treadmill.  Also, as  you approach the race date, start running at the time of day that the race will start so that you know how your body feels at that time.  On the day of the race, wear the same shoes that you are used to running in and eat the way you are used to eating.  The day of the race is not the right time to try anything new.  Also, the anticipation and build up of the race can create a lot of adrenaline which may make you want to start off faster than you had planned.  Don’t.  Stay at the pace you know you can keep and if you still feel that way after the first few miles, then slowly let yourself increase. 

3. Have fun!  Take in the crowds, let the energy of the other racers motivate you and don’t be too hard on yourself.  Try to enjoy the experience for what it is and learn from it so that you can be faster next time.

4. Recover and Improve. After the race, take note of how you felt during and after and what you think you need to do to make the next race even better.  If you are overly sore or tired, plan to train more for the next race and make sure that you are eating enough to fuel your body for racing.

Racing is a great way to push yourself and add a new element of competition to your running program.  I’m really proud of my dad’s finish yesterday and can’t wait to race with him soon!



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