Monday, November 4, 2013

Beginners tips for your first 5K

Sunday I ran my first 5K!!
Me, at the beginning of the race, wondering what the frick I had gotten myself in to. 

I had such a great time, and can't wait for my next one! No, really. I was petrified before and maybe even a bit during, but it was such a great experience. 
I thought it might be helpful for me to pass along some of the things I've learned so far. For a newbie, your first race, surrounded by hundreds of serious athletes, can be pretty intimidating. 
Here's what I've learned so far. 

Go with an established race for your first. I went on a longtime race in my hometown for my inaugural outing. You're going to be nervous in general for your first race. Being surrounded by people who know what they're doing and running in a race organized by people who've done it before really takes the edge off. When you know where to be, where to go, and the path to follow, you can focus on just the run, not the other logistics. 

Get your playlist ready. I find in general that music really puts me in the zone. Having a playlist ready to go not only gets you going, but it also works as a great reminder of the time you've spent training. Hearing some of the same tunes reminds you that you can totally handle it. 

While we're talking about training... Do it. But don't put too much pressure on yourself. I started training late in the summer, and felt really good about my progress. I had been using an elliptical to start out, then I decided to try a quick run on pavement. And it was horrible. I felt so terrible about how I did and thought I for sure was a failure. So if I was already a failure, what was the point in trying? I still trained on and off, but without the confidence or conviction. If I had just given myself a break, I would have been much better prepared. 

. . . But don't worry about being at your best. For you first race, your goal should be to finish. That's it. After your first, you'll have a better idea of your weaknesses and strengths. You'll also have the confidence boost of knowing you can finish. 

Walking is ok. I went in to the race thinking I ought to run the whole thing. At my fitness level, that wasn't realistic for me. But the great thing was it didn't matter that I was running. People on the sidelines were just as encouraging, and the hard-core runners weren't snooty either. As long as you move to a side to stay out of runners' way, you're set. 

Get there early. Like, earlier than you think you need. I got there 30 minutes before my race and was apparently late. Get there with a 45-minute to an hour gap. That will give you time to find where the starting line is, get comfortable with surroundings and warm up. 

Keep it light. Like I said, I was late, and couldn't find the bag check before the race. No biggie, I thought.  I had a small drawstring bag that was pretty light. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal. But running has a way of making small inconveniences huge annoyances. If it hadn't had my car keys and wallet inside, I would've tossed that thing after mile 1. It slid all over the place and was a huge distraction. If your race doesn't have a bag check, leave everything you can in the car. Trust me. 

Enjoy yourself! 5K's are about fun. If you aren't having fun, you're not going to stick with it.

So, my regular-running-readers, what other advice would you give? Tell me in the comments!
Oh, an there was totally a bald eagle at the finish line. Because nothing says running like.... an eagle? Still awesome though 

1 comment:

  1. you will never ever win so just finish. oh and smile when running through the finish line. someone will be taking a picture of you!