Race Tips for Beginners (i.e., Me)

I've completed a few 5Ks, one 8K, and next Saturday will be my 10K debut. I have compiled mounds o' advice from many experienced runners, books, and blogs. Here are the race week and race day tips I hope to follow :

1. Taper the week before the race. My longest run will be 4.5-5 miles at a slow pace on Monday, then a couple of very short runs on Wednesday and Thursday.

2. Don't run or weight train the day before a race so your legs (not to mention the rest of you) will be fresh.

3. Hydrate well the week before the race, especially the two days prior. On Friday, I'll be pounding the water.

4. Drive, or even better, run the course a week or at least several days before the race.

5. Try to get a good night's sleep two nights before and the night before the race. (That's what I'm told.)

6. No alcohol, extremely fatty foods, or high-sodium foods the night before the race. I once ate pork BBQ, baked beans, slaw (mayonnaise-style), and sour cream and onion potato chips the night before a race. Didn't work too well for me. But, don't skip dinner the night before. You need fuel!

7. The morning of the race, get up 1.5 to 2 hours before race time. (Not a problem with Super Baby who rises at the crack of dawn EVERY morning.) Have two glasses of water to hydrate. Within one hour of racing, I stop drinking just to make sure I don't get stuck on the course with a full bladder.

Then eat your normal breakfast--- for me, a bowl of Special K and a cup of coffee. Don't try anything new or exotic on race day! Then, in the car on the way to the race, eat a banana and a handful of Cheerios or peanut butter on toast so that your tank is topped off. In my last race, I had no energy and felt like my legs were made of lead. That was probably from eating a small bowl of cereal 2.5 hours before race time. I was running on empty by mile two, if not at the start. I might even substitute in oatmeal, since I tried that before today's run and it worked fine.

8. Get to the race 30 minutes before the start for last minute visits to the Port-o-Potties.

9. Jog in place, fast walk, skip, hop or whatever to get a little warm, then
S--T--R--E--T--C--H for a few minutes prior to running.

10. This one is important!! On a cold day, would you start your car and immediately peel out of your drive way at 70 MPH without warming it up just a little? It's the same on race day. Jog around a bit right before the start. Get your heart rate up a little. Let your body know what's up---that it's time to move, preferably semi-fast. It'll move better and faster than if you just start cold. I've seen these elite runners in the area full-on running before the race and thought they were crazy. Now I get it. They have to warm up prior to the start, so they can immediately go at full race pace. (Those guys also run after the race to get a longer workout in and/or to do some cooling down, while the rest of us are stumbling over to the snack table and gasping for breath. I want to be like those guys!)

11. At the start, I usually line up near the back so I'm not in any fast runners' way and so I'm not disheartened by lots and lots of people passing me. But, know that that may alter your finish time because you might not technically cross the start until 10 seconds or more into the race. (Chip-timing eliminates this problem, but most races around here don't use chips.)

12. Finally, don't go out too fast. If you run and give it all you've got immediately, you may hit a wall before you finish and be miserable. Trust me, I have been there! My coach says that first 1/2 mile should be your slowest one as you are still warming up, letting your body figure out what's going on, then you can kick it in. But not TOO slow. If you go out too slowly, you can't make up that time later. That's why the warm up is so important.

13. Water stops----during the race at a water stop, make eye contact with the person offering the water, get the cup and crush the top into a sort of spout, then pour it in. Or take this opportunity for a brief walk break so you'll be drinking more and wearing less water. Unless it's really hot, you probably don't need water in a 5K. It'll just slow you down.

That's all I can think of right now. If anyone reads this and I'm way off on something, please let me know.

Today, I ran the race course of 6.2 in 1:03:06. My goal for the 10K next week is under 1:05, so if I can do what I did today, I'll be fine. It helped to run with my speedy friend, K. She makes me go faster while I slow her down!

I didn't actually do the warm up jog (my bad) and I started out kind of fast for me. My pace would have been more like 10:20 average without that first fast mile. But, now I know that pace works, so maybe it wasn't too fast. Here are my splits:

mile 1 9:44

mile 2 10:08

mile 3 10:13 Took a GU at beginning of mile 3.

mile 4 10:23 This was a tough mile running against the wind.

mile 5 10:16 GU kicked in?

mile 6 10:21

.2 9:51 Coach dropped back and ran with me at the end; I didn't even notice I sped up.

I don't know that I'll be able to match or beat these times next week. I was having a good day.


katieo said…
These are awesome tips.
But my favorite part was Super Baby waking up at the crack of dawn. We've go one of those too! :)

AND I really really want a Garmin!
good times! I'm impressed that mile 5 was the fastest. usually by that time I'm totally pooping out.

all those are great tips, I'll have to keep those in mind since I'm thinking about running a 10k in a few months here!

And to answer your question from my blog...yep, Handsome McHottie used the pinchers :( It sucked! but hopefully next time he pinches me I'll be lest Fatty McFlabby and more McHottie myself!
Ashley said…

Those are really great tips! A lot of them I might not have thought of. Thanks!