The thought of participating in your first event can be quite daunting, this guide may help things run more smoothly…
Preparation when training for an event is key, everyone will offer a multitude of tricks and tips that may or may not help you; however there are a few fundamentals to bear in mind when training for your first running event. Firstly you should definitely buy a pair of correctly fitted running trainers and it’s well worth investing in some specific sports kit to train in; avoid wearing or using something completely new on race day, particularly trainers as these will almost always need breaking in several weeks beforehand. If you decide that you will be using any sports nutrition during the event then you should also train with your sports nutrition, it’s not fun when you try a new energy gel half way round the race only to find it makes you feel sick! It would also be a good idea to follow a structured training programme based on the distance and time you are hoping to achieve; there are a plethora of different training programs published on-line that can help; the key thing here is not to overdo it early on. Once you have successfully followed the training programme and your event day arrives you may feel a bit nervous and probably very excited; below is a brief list of ten things that will help your first running event run smoothly:
1. ENSURE YOU COLLECT/RECEIVE YOUR RACE PACK EARLY
- The race pack will usually include information about the event such as directions, route map and start times.
- Your race number is usually included; this will have to be safety pinned to your race top.
- Some packs may also include your timing chip which will need to be attached to your shoe.
2. PACK A RACE DAY BAG
Useful items to take with you are…
- Safety pins for your race number
- A towel
- Change of warm clothes
- Energy bars/Recovery drink
3. PRE RACE FOOD
- You should eat at least one hour before the start of the race.
- The meal should be higher in quality carbohydrate for slower release energy.
4. DRESS ACCORDING TO THE WEATHER
- Remember that you will get warmer as soon as you start to run, so be careful not to wear too much.
- Layering is a good idea.
5. ARRIVE EARLY!
- Probably the best and most valuable piece of advice.
- Inner city races often get clogged with traffic due to road closures. Leave yourself time to park and walk to the starting area.
- It’s a good idea to find your way around the race site; baggage areas, meeting points, first aid and toilet blocks need to be located.
- Once on site you can pin your race number onto your top.
- Use this spare time to warm up and stretch. Preparing your body for the run is vital but this can also help you focus your mind towards the challenge ahead.
- Use the toilet before you go to the start line as there can be a delay before the start of the race.
6. FIND YOUR STARTING POSITION
- Most races will have an organised starting pen that separates runners into waves of similar ability.
- Find the group that is set to run the event at the same time as you. If you start too near to the front you will hold up the runners behind you and get overtaken. If you start too far back you will have to overtake everyone and that will slow you down.
7. PLAN YOUR NUTRITION/HYDRATION
- As mentioned at the start you should have trained using your own choice of sports nutrition.
- Using this experience carry the products you wish to use. It is a good idea to take an extra gel just in case your energy levels fall more than expected.
- Use the water stations provided. On long runs it is important to stay hydrated.
- In hot weather you can also use the water to cool you down.
- Be careful and look out for discarded water bottles after a station as they pose a real trip hazard!
8. USE OTHERS DURING THE RACE
- Having supporters at the race to cheer you on can be a big boost to your motivation.
- Use other runners to pace yourself. Most people around you will be aiming for the same finish time. You can always concentrate on keeping up someone as a pace setter or try to beat them over the line.
- Aim to finish the race! Too many people sprint off the start line and end up dropping out or end up walking at the end.
9. REMEMBER THE RACE DOES NOT END AT THE FINISH LINE
- Make sure you perform some stretches and cool down properly after the race. We don’t want sore muscles and stiff joints to put you off entering another event.
- Refuel your body with some quality nutrition after the event. Energy bars and recovery shakes are perfect to replace nutrients and top up glycogen stores.
- Continue to rehydrate your body after the event too.
10. ENJOY YOURSELF AND LEARN FROM YOUR EXPERIENCES!