You’ve picked up the running bug and now you want to run a race. There are several things to keep in mind when preparing to run a race. This will make that first race much more enjoyable.
Start small with a 5K race if you have never run a race before. Check the years previous results if you want to see where you’ll fit into the finish. Check to see if they allow run/walkers and if there is a time limit to the race if you expect to be toward the back of the race. Many races that are raising money for causes are usually slower races filled with walkers too.
Start close to home. Because there are many factors that go into a race, you probably don’t want to enter one too far from home. This will allow you to wake up at a reasonable time, get to the race, get familiar with the race set-up and not feel rushed.
Check out the race course. See if the race course is online and has an elevation chart to go with it. You can then look it over and prepare yourself mentally for any hills or plan for some rest on the downhills and flat parts. Also check out where the port-a-potty’s are as well as water tables and the medical area. That way, you will be prepared when you arrive to the race. You can use the bathrooms early and should you need water or medical attention, you’ll know where to go.
Check the weather and prepare for anything. Most races are run in the early morning and are cooler weather. You can bring extra gear with you and wear it as needed and dispose of it at the start or on the course if you don’t mind parting with it. Or plan to give it to a friend that is cheering you on.
Check out where to park, especially if it is a bigger race or longer race. This is the best way to avoid walking a significant distance to the start if you get caught having to park far away. Some races will have shuttle stops that take you to the start and it will be important to plan ahead. Also, road closures for the race may affect how you get to the parking location, so be aware of that. One nice thing about parking closer is the car is available to keep warm on chilly mornings, if need be.
Find out if any medals or ribbons are given to the participants and where this will occur. For longer races, the medals are given out at the end of the race after you cross the line and walk through the runners area. If you are a speedy runner and expect possible age group award, find out if a ceremony will take place and how long after the race. Age group awards can be mailed out the participants as well.
Doing the above should get you well prepared enough to squelch worries and help you focus on having fun and enjoying the actual running part of the race as much as possible. Enjoy your first race and cherish the memory of crossing the finish line for the first time.