I remember when I signed up for my very first race, a 5K all the way back in 2005. I filled out my registration (on paper back in those days) and sent in a check with my entry fee. I was excited to run, but didn’t really know where to begin with preparing to run the race. Dozens of races later, I wanted to put together what I think are the most important steps to follow to make sure that you’ll have a wonderful first race.
So, what should you do now that you’ve officially signed up for your first race?
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Find a training plan. Being under-trained is a surefire way to have a bad time at your race. Make sure that you get in the mileage you need to make sure that you’ll have a good race and that you’ll have fun running. Being miserable for most of the race will make you never want to run another race again.
Look over the course description. Make sure your training matches the course you’ll be running on. Luckily the vast majority of races these days have a web site, and most should have a course map and/or description. Hilly course? Make sure that you run some hills as part of your training, even if you have to simulate it on the treadmill. Be prepared! (Pro tip: if you’re training for a hilly course, be sure to practice running on downhills, too. They’ll trash your quads!)
Have the right gear. Don’t have good running shoes? Seriously consider going to a running specialty retailer and getting fit for running shoes. Good running shoes are much more comfortable for running than cross trainers, and that comfort will make it more likely that you’ll stick with your training and cross that finish line as a happy runner. Moisture-wicking socks and running apparel can make a huge difference in comfort, too.
Veteran runners: what tips would you give a newbie for his or her first race?
Newbies: what questions do you have about running your first race?