Regardless of whether you choose to run a marathon, 5K or 10K, these races are a great way to challenge yourself and test your body’s limits. While it may seem intimidating, if you’re willing to stick to a disciplined training routine, there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to go the distance.
Here are some tips to help prepare you for your first big race:
You’ll want to invest in breathable, moisture-wicking running apparel. Extra points if it has built-in sun protection.
When race day comes, avoid wearing anything new. This includes shoes, shirts, sports bras, shorts, and pants. Trust us, this is not the time to break in new running gear.
It is also a good idea to keep an eye on how many miles your shoes have done. Most running experts suggest replacing running shoes after 300 to 500 miles to prevent injuries. Again, however - no brand new clothing (including shoes!) on race day!
Strength training can improve how your body uses oxygen and build stronger muscles, which can make you a more efficient runner. In particular, you’ll want to do exercises that focus on your core, legs, glutes, and lower back. Here are ten strength training exercises that are recommended for runners.
Don’t Skip Rest Days
Rest days are vital. Resting is just as important as training. Rest requires you to sleep, eat, hydrate, and basically chill out. When you rest, you allow your muscles and bones strengthen, your immune system to rejuvenate, and connective tissues to rebuild.
Tapering is a strategy used by most runners two to three weeks before their race where they gradually reduce the amount of exercise leading up to race day. This allows your body to restore glycogen levels, which is an energy source that is used up during rigorous exercise.
The Day Before the Race
In the days leading up to the race, eat healthy meals and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don’t try anything new or you may risk getting an upset stomach mid-race. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep so that you are relaxed and refreshed before the race.
If you can, pick up the race packet that typically contains bib and race day information and study the course you’ll be running.
The night before, we recommend you lay out your gear to ensure you won’t forget anything - this includes clothing, shoes, bib number, water bottles, and fitness watches.
On the day of the race, start the morning off with a simple breakfast that is light and high in carbohydrates. Once you get to the race, we recommend you to get in some warm up stretches 30 minutes before the start to prevent injury and get rid of any lingering pre-race anxiety.
Once the race starts, keep your body hydrated and pace yourself. If you feel like you’re losing momentum, let the cheering crowds motivate you.
After the Race
Once you’ve crossed the finish line, take a moment to cool down with either a gentle walk or stretching. Eat some carbs and proteins to give your body a chance to replenish energy. Drink water or sports drinks to keep your body hydrated. And most importantly, enjoy the moment. You earned it!
It’s your first race, so have fun! Regardless of distance or time, you should be proud of yourself for making it across the finish line. Give yourself time to soak in this amazing accomplishment.