Friday, March 18, 2011

Tips for Running Your First Race

My coworker Emily is running her first half marathon this weekend down in Virginia Beach at the Shamrock Half.

So in honor of her first race, I thought I'd share some of the best advice I've gotten about racing over the years.

1. Trust your training.

You've put in months and months of training, and you're prepared for this race. Even if you didn't follow your original training plan perfectly, you have a strong base of running and you'll do just fine on race day.

2. Don't try anything new on race day.

Race expos are full of vendors selling new, fun products. While it's OK to pick up some new things, you definitely don't want to experiment with them on race morning. Stick to what worked during your training or you could end up with all sorts of problems come race day.

3. Get to the start early.

Depending on the race, parking could be tight. There could be long lines for porta-potties. The last thing you want to do is get stuck searching for a parking space and miss the start of the race. Leave yourself plenty of time and you'll be less stressed out.

4. Don't go out too fast.

Race mornings can make a lot of runners a giant bundle of nerves, no matter how many races you've run. Some of those nerves may push you out of the gate a little too quickly, which could lead you to crash and burn later in the race. Remember you are running your own race and try not to get swept up too much by the excitement of the crowds around you.

5. Don't stop your watch immediately at the finish line.

Or else your finisher's photo will be of the top of your head looking down, instead of your smiling face beaming with pride.

6. Have fun.

Most of all, have fun. Whether you are slow or fast, having your best race, or struggling to get from mile to mile, remember to enjoy the experience. Not everyone can be out there running. You got through your training and to the start line without any major set backs or injuries and that's something to celebrate over the course of the run.

Please feel free to share your own tips for first-time racers in the comments!

And good luck to everyone else who is racing this weekend!

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