Ready, Set, Go! – Preparing for your first race
You signed up months ago, followed your training plan and before you know it, there’s only a few days left until your race. While it’s common to feel nervous, there’s plenty you can do in the run up that can help you to prepare and focus on the race ahead, whether you’re running a 5k or right up to a marathon!
Depending on the distance, start thinking about tapering down your activity between one and three weeks before race day. Your body will need to be in its best condition for race day, so stick to your training plan as this tapering phase should be built in for you. It may seem un-nerving to be reducing the amount you’re running, but it will help your body prepare for the race ahead. If you’re running a marathon, you might want to start thinking about carb loading. Not sure what that is or where to start? This article from Runner’s World offers a detailed guide.
The night before race day, it’s likely you’ll be a bit nervous. There is some small prep you can do to take the stress out of race day morning, but what I’ve found most helpful is running (pardon the pun!) through my race information again. This way, I know exactly where I need to go, what time I need to be there and where the nearest loos are! I also like to check the weather forecast, get all my kit together and lay it out ready for the next morning – it helps re-focus my thoughts and reassures me that I won’t forget anything in a nervous rush. As a side tip, make sure you’ve already tested what you’re wearing on a long training run. It’s not a great idea to wear anything brand new or untested – you could end up with blisters – or worse, chafing!
And it’s finally here! You might not feel like eating on race morning, but it’s a good idea to get some fuel on board, even if it’s only a small meal. The London Marathon has a great race-day nutrition guide with lots of tips on how to properly fuel your race.
- Just like the kit you wear, anything you eat on race day should be tried and tested or you could run the risk of an upset stomach.
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself properly hydrated.
- If it’s going to be a hot, sunny day, slap on the sun cream.
- Get to the start point well ahead of time, there’s always a huge queue for the loos!
- Get yourself ready, warm up, and find yourself a good position at the start line.
Once the gun goes, it can feel quite claustrophobic and it’s easy to get swept up as everyone surges forward, but try not to panic, hold your ground and run at the pace you’ve been training at to avoid striving for a pace that’s too hard to sustain.
As the field thins out, take time to enjoy your race! You’ve worked hard to get to this point – now’s your chance to take in everything around you and have some fun.
The finish line
You did it! Enjoy your moment and take in the atmosphere at the finish line, but before you celebrate, make sure you stretch and cool down or you may find you can’t move later!
Whatever distance you’re running, you can feel proud that you’ve achieved something amazing, and start thinking about training for the next one!