By Emma Andrews, RHN
Crossing the finish line of your first “goal race” is a once in a lifetime memory. There’s already a bit of stress and nerves inherent in doing something you’ve never done before, so let these 8 tips for running your first race set you up for a positive experience.
I’ve run over 100 races and still practice these tips. Whether it’s your first time racing, or first time racing a new distance, use this as a guide to put your mind at ease and help maximize your endorphins.
One Month Out:
- Practice your fuelling strategies ahead of time. Know what you can safely eat without any tummy trouble the night before, and morning of your race, based on foods you’ve eaten during training.
One Week Out:
- Study the route. I recommend saving a copy of the route map to the lock screen on your phone, or bookmarking the webpage on your browser. Review it regularly an remind yourself where to enter the starting corrals, where you’ll look for any friends or family along the route, and where the water stations are.
- Hydrate well in advance. Pay attention to your hydration game at least a week before race day. If you are increasing your fluid intake, this allows time for your bladder to adjust so you don’t have to pee every five minutes on race morning! The more hydrated you are the easier it will be to regulate your temperature and avoid overheating on race day.
- Lay out your race gear the night before. Everything from your breakfast foods, to your apparel, shoes, race number, and watch or headphones. That way you can simply focus on eating, and limbering up in the morning. No scrambling around looking for matching socks. (Bonus points for posting a photo of your race kit to social media #humblebrag).
- Arrange your meeting points. Often the exit areas and the finish lines can be crowded. Arrange a meeting point ahead of time and meet one another there. Similarly, if you plan to catch friends and family along the course, plan not only where you’ll look for one another, but what side of the street they’ll be on. It’s helpful if they make a unique cheer sign that you can watch for, and if you wear something bright for them to watch for.
- Pack an extra layer. It’s often cooler in the morning compared to the temperature when you’ll finish, and shivering in the starting corrals will cause your muscles to tense up and burn valuable energy. Dig through your old clothes, and find an extra layer to wear that you don’t mind ditching pre-race. Leave it in the starting corrals right before the race begins and volunteers will collect all the items for charity.
- Be mindful. Adrenalin has its perks, but be mindful that it doesn’t give you a false sense of confidence, and you start your race too hard or fast. Listen to your breathing and pay attention to your stride. A pace that’s too drastically different from your training will be hard to maintain and create a build of lactic acid faster than your body is used to coping with. This can lead to early muscle fatigue, ‘bonking’, and cramping. Save your sprint for the finish, and save your strength for any hills.
- Recover strong. Congrats! You did it. You’ve got the medal around your neck to prove it, and the endorphins are pumping. Refuel with a meal you’re craving, but remember that you are rebuilding new cells and muscle tissue from the foods you consume post workout. Choosing good quality nutrients will help you bounce back post-race and maximize any strength or endurance gains. Reach for nutrient dense, whole foods wherever possible.
I recommend making a blended smoothie within an hour of finishing your race, using Pranin Smoothie Booster for whole food vitamin and mineral support, paired with frozen fruit, coconut water or tart cherry juice, and hemp seeds (like this Runner’s Recovery Smoothie). After that – a hearty brunch!
Let us know – What is your upcoming goal race?
Emma Andrews is a Vancouver based Holistic Sports Nutritionist (RHN), longevity educator, culinary explorer, and endurance athlete. Emma educates and empowers athletes – and life enthusiasts – to take a proactive approach towards their wellness and longevity. She believes that the kitchen is your playground, and her goal is to inspire others towards a lifetime of health and physical activity. Read more from Emma.
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