There’s been a lot of talk around here lately regarding all of the races that we have run recently. That is chatter that is not likely to go away anytime soon (if you couldn’t tell, we like to run races and tell everyone about it). Hopefully we are inspiring you out there to run some races of your own, and share your experiences with us along the way. Some of you may be gearing up to run your first race. Regardless of what distance you are tackling first, it is important to take note of what to expect when you show up on race day. Thankfully, you have the Pulitzer Prize winning Tuesday Ten to prepare you before you cross the starting line.
10. Get Enough Sleep
This sounds really common-sense, but with the anticipation of your first race looming, it can be hard to get to sleep early. You’re nervous, you’re excited, you’re afraid of oversleeping, it can be quite difficult to quiet your mind enough to be able to fall asleep. Do whatever you have to do to relax. Take a calming bath before bed, try reading (pull out some selections from your favorite blogger), listen to some music, or for the couples out there, we all know one of the best ways to relieve tension, board games! Wait, what else would I be talking about?
9. Pack The Night Before
The last thing you want to do after oversleeping because you couldn’t get to sleep is to scramble to get ready in the morning. Some of these race starts are early, maybe not all are RunDisney early (love the 2a.m. wake-up calls), but you don’t want to be running out of the house in a mismatched outfit. Even worse, you don’t want to forget any of the essentials( bib, food, water, kids, etc..) because you are running out of the house; seriously, save the running for the race. Lay everything that you need the night before. We actually make a thing out of it where you take a picture of your outfit and post it titled “Flat Insert Your Name Here.” I even take it a step further to pin my bib on, assuming I already have it, because I hate fussing with my bibs on race day. Also, put any race day nutrition, water, ID and credit cards/cash, and anything else you will need with your clothes, and have your kids sleep on top of the pile. That way you don’t forget anything.
8. Eat Something
I’ve never been one to eat breakfast. However, on race day I need to have something in me before running. At the very least I will have a protein bar, maybe a banana or bagel. Depending on the race I will also have something stashed to be able to have on the course (GUs, beans, candy, booze), to get me through until the end. The one thing you want to be sure and not do is try something new on race day. This is a common tip from most runners, but part of your training needs to be with experimenting with different types of food and the effects they have on you. Better to have to throw up or poop yourself when there aren’t thousands of onlookers.
7. Stay Hydrated
Again, this one sounds simple, but I have always sucked at drinking water. In fact, as was the case when it came to studying for exams, I am usually cramming at the last minute before a race. I wait until the last minute to drink gallons of water to make sure I don’t pass out. Not the ideal way to go about it. The better option is to just consistently drink half of your weight in ounces throughout the day, everyday, and you will be fine. The other thing to know is, what is the hydration station situation(also the title of my first single off of my upcoming debut album). Most 5ks will only have 1 maybe 2 if you’re lucky. Longer races tend to have one every 2 miles or so. If you know going in, it makes planning a lot easier.
6. Thank The Volunteers/Cheerers
It takes a lot to train and prepare for these races. It takes an even bigger person to want to go to these races just to hand out water, or medals, or even just go to cheer. This is a whole other level of dedication. Thank as many as you can. I have made a conscious effort to do this more and more (mostly thanks to Laura who legit thanks pretty much everyone). These people are giving their time, and more importantly, their support to total strangers. The least we can do is thank them for it.
5. Don’t Be That Guy
This could actually be it’s own “Tuesday Ten,” but basically, observe proper etiquette. This means a lot of different things, especially since it seems fewer and fewer are understanding. The highlights are: slower runners stay to the side, raise your hand if you need to slow down and walk, don’t cut in front of runners, don’t splash water all over the ground by the hydration stations, use the trash cans while you are there, if you are a group, don’t run more than a couple wide, and for the love of God, do not spit or blow snot rockets unless you are off to the side not surrounded by anyone. I could write a book, but it all comes down to, be a decent human being on the course.
4. Smile For The Camera
Pretty much any race these days has some sort of on-course photography. If yours does, be on the lookout for photographers and try to smile, give a thumbs up, look like you are a running superhero. Don’t be like me and look like you are dying in every race photograph. Be especially excited when crossing that finish. That is the moment you have worked so hard for, celebrate it! Who knows, maybe you will even become famous like a certain Joyful Miles founder….
3. Don’t Try To Keep Up
This is actually a lot harder concept than you would think. Part of training for a race is to get used to running at a comfortable pace. However, you cross that starting line and you are suddenly Wile E. Coyote chasing after the Road Runner (especially if you have ever run with Laura). You can’t help it. You see people booking it, and you feel like you have to as well. You are going to be so pumped up on adrenaline that is natural to start too fast, causing you to burn out all too quickly. Slow it down. It is actually better to start slower and gradually build allowing you to finish than it is to burn out and need assistance to get to the finish line. Which reminds me…
2. Adrenaline Is Also Your Friend
Anytime you talk to someone running their first race, or trying a new distance, the common theme is the fear of not finishing. It cannot be understated that race day is vastly different than training days. That extra shot of adrenaline you have to fight against to keep your pace, will actually be your friend and give you the extra shot you need to finish. It also helps to know that you are not out there alone. Running alongside thousands of other runners and spectators is really a special experience. It’s addicting, and once you run your first race you finally will see what all of the fuss is about.
You never get your first race back, so bask in it. You are doing something you most likely never thought you would. The achievement of running and finishing your first race is special. Enjoy every moment of it. Even if you are hurting, feeling miserable, or just having a bad day. You have so many people there to get you through it. My first race was a 4 miler fundraiser, and I broke pretty much every rule listed above. After hurting because I started too strong, leaving me doubting that I would finish, I came along someone that was also hurting. We talked for a bit and decided to keep pace. We talked each other through to the finish, and it was such an unbelievable moment. I’ll never forget it.
Now it’s your turn. Who out there is running their first race? Or are you running your first race at a different distance? Maybe you have your own tips that you’d like to share? We want to hear about it. Leave a comment or post on any of our social media pages.