You’ve been running for a while, and you’ve finally signed up for your first race! Good job! Running is a great way to get healthy and lose weight. If you haven't gotten into running, what are you waiting for?! Here's a beginners guide to running to get you started, and some do's and dont's for newbie runners.
Here are 10 things to keep in mind as you go through your training and hit race day!
1) Be ready to make sacrifices – Whether it is your time, drinks on the weekend, sleep, or sleeping in, you will have to make sacrifice, or cut things out of your schedule. And as hard as it is sometimes to haul yourself out of bed at 6:30am on a Saturday morning, with a 26 km run staring you in the face, it will all be worth it in the end as you cross the line of your first race!
2) It will hurt – While you are racing, and training, it will cause you some pain. You knew it was coming some time, so figure out how you are going to deal with it when it comes. Maybe it will be finding a mantra for yourself, flipping to your favourite podcast on your iPod, or having a pick me up playlist. Whatever works, you just need to find something to distract you from the incessant pain in your quads every time your foot hits the ground.
3) Prepare for the mental battle – There comes a point when every part of your body wants to stop, and you have to find something inside of you to make yourself keep going. You have to have the mental strength to push forward. This goes with number two above, finding the mental strength to overcome your increasing physical weaknesses. Practice this in your long runs and find what works best for you to fight the mental battle!
4) Do your long runs – Long runs are the most realistic indicator of how your race will feel. You need to do them not only to build your fitness, but also to train your body to run for that long of a time, figure out what you are going to wear and eat, figure out how your body reacts to running at different times etc. Put in the time and distance for these runs and your race will go much smoother!
5) Get good gear and train in it – This includes clothes and shoes, and means no cotton, no cheap sweat wicking clothes, and no casual walking shoes turned into runners. All of these items are expensive, but if you calculate how many hours y will actually be wearing it in training and racing, it is less than you would pay for everyday clothes. Plus, comfort and performance are key when you are tyring to perform!
6) Embrace the Community – Running brings with it a great sense of community. Whether you join a running group to help in your training, read and learn from other runners online, or just soak up the energy of all the spectators and supporters at the race, find your way to be a part. One the best things about a race is the camaraderie and energy from everyone around, creating an environment filled with excitement, nervous energy and accomplishment. You’re one of those runners now, so embrace it and look at the amazing group you are ow part of!
7) If it hurts, just stop! - If something hurts – beyond normal soreness – stop running and take a few days or a week off. Do low impact cross training such as spinning or swimming and lots of stretching and then assess whether you need more time off or to see a professional before you resume.
8) Don’t make race day the first time – Try and practice everything before the big day, from what you wear, to what you eat to when you stop on the course for water. This will help make sure everything runs smoothly and you don’t have any unfortunate surprises!
10) Enjoy the moment and give yourself a pat on the back – When all is said and done, and you leave the start line, whatever will happen, will happen. Walk if you have to, stop if you have to, but just smile and enjoy every moment! Take it all in, because there is nothing else in life quite like the experience of being in your first race. And no matter what happens, don’t forget to congratulate yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back. You did it!