Sunday, May 8, 2022
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Running your first ever race? Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.

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Olivia Higginson
Olivia Higginson
Olivia can usually be found running around the East Devon countryside with her fellow club runners. She has raced all distances from 5K to 50K, but her favourite distance is a half-marathon. Her dream would be to run in races around the world. Olivia is also a Sports Therapist, assisting runners to keep on running.

We all remember how nervous we felt about taking part in our first running race. In this blog I aim to answer any questions you have about your first race. From how to prepare for the race the night before and what to expect on the day of the race.

Once you have plucked up the courage to book for your first ever running race, thinking about race day can be quite scary. What to expect, what to wear, where to go. Am I going to be last?, will everyone be faster than me?. It is natural to feel nervous and to have all these questions. We have all been in this position and even now I can feel super nervous about a race.

So here are my top tips about running your first race and hopefully it will answer any questions that you might have. I have split the blog in to two halves, pre-race day and on race day. Plus hopefully the excitement will out way your nerves.

Day before

Read up on all the race information

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I always read any race information when I first receive it but it is also a great idea to read it again the day before your race, just so it is clear in your head. The main things would be location, what is at race HQ, any parking/ travel information and most importantly the race start time.

Lay out your kit the night before

I love to lay out my race day kit the evening before as it gets me excited and ready for the next day. It is a good opportunity to decide what to wear for the race, such as t shirt or a vest. Getting kit ready now means one less thing to worry about on race day morning plus its a good photo opportunity for social media #flatlay

Running your first ever race Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.

What to pack in your bag?

I over pack especially in the autumn and winter months when the weather can change within the space of driving to the race. So I will pack various race day kit options, but for this blog I will keep it simple.

The list of items that you should pack are:

  • Drink such as water for before and after the race
  • A snack to have once you have finished
  • A full change of clothes including socks and underwear
  • A change of footwear so either another pair of trainers or a pair of flip flops for example
  • A towel so you can dry wipe off the sweat or the rain
  • A plastic bag is useful for to put your trainers in, especially if they are wet or muddy. Or for your race kit that will be sweaty or wet from rain

Plan travel arrangements

To reduce your race day nerves it is a good idea to plan how your are going to get to the race, how long will it take and where there is to park. Most runners like to arrive about an hour before the start time, in order to visit HQ, drop the bag off, collect a number and visit the loo more than once.

Race day

Running your first ever race? Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.
Eat your normal breakfast


It is best to eat breakfast a good three hours before the start of the race, and just eat what you normally do before a run. Race day breakfast is no different to any other pre run breakfast.

Race HQ

Most races will have a race headquarters where there is information about the race such as a route map. There might be refreshments available and also somewhere to store your bag. This is the place if you have any questions regarding the race.

Running your first ever race Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.
Start of the Crafty Fox half 2019

When to get to the start line/ Where to stand?

What time to get to the start line depends on the size of the race. But normally it is a great idea to be at the start about fifteen minutes before kick off, this way you will hear any race briefings.

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You should have a rough idea of the time that you will complete the race in. But as a guide for your first race it is probably a good idea to stand in the middle or towards the back of the pack. This allows the fast runners to speed off but more importantly if will give you space and stop you from setting off too fast.

During the race

Running your first race is something special and is something to remember. The best piece of advice I was given was to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. Just try to run your own race at your own pace. As it is very easy to get carried away by the crowd and with the excitement and it is easy to run faster than you normally do. We have all done that and paid the price later on in the race.  If towards the end of your race you are feeling great then by all means pick up the pace.

Running your first ever race Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.
Finish of the Crafty Fox half 2019

After you have crossed the finish line

Woop woop you have completed your first running race, you should be extremely proud of yourself and very very happy. Collect your memento, be that a medal or a t shirt and take lots of pictures to show everyone. Then head to race HQ collect your bag and change in to clean clothes. Now you can spend the rest of the day celebrating your epic achievement and relaxing as the hard work is done. I like to have a little treat or two such as going somewhere for cake or maybe an ice cream after a hot summers race.

Running your first ever race Here are some tips and advice to help the day go smoothly.
Post race cake time

When you cross your first ever finish all that hard work and training that you put in has paid off. Completing your first race is an amazing achievement and something that you will remember for years to come.Hopefully I have answered any questions that you may have about completing your first race.

If you have any other questions please write them in the comments below and we will do our best to answer them. We would love to hear any other tips that seasoned race goers have for first timers. 

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