10 Tips for Your First 10K

6. Include a few dress rehearsals along the way. Every endurance (or long) run is an opportunity to practice logistics for race day. You consider everything from what to eat for dinner before the race to breakfast, race attire, fuel and pacing. Dialing in all of these things will help you better prepare for the 10K, and avoid second guessing yourself if the race nerves kick in.

7. Make it social. Studies have shown runners who train in groups show up more consistently and go farther than when they run alone. This may not be true for everyone, but running with a group of friends, at a weekly local running store run or with a buddy improves motivation and performance, and provides a solid source of accountability to keep you moving toward your goals.

8. Train your mind. Training is mostly physical and somewhat mental. Race day is the exact opposite. Your mind runs the show. The number one mistake runners make on race day is to go out too fast, expend way too much energy in the first few miles, and crash and burn towards the end. This lends itself to a fantastic first 5K, and a terrible finish line photo. 

In the final five weeks of training, dedicate one run per week to running a negative split. That is, cut the distance in half, run the first half easy and gradually dial up the pace until you're at a comfortably hard effort for the final half-mile. Don't forget to practice your finish line smile.

More: 4 Mental Tips to Boost Your Run

9. Warm up pre-race. Whether you plan to run your first 10K for fun or for a specific time, it is wise to invest in a short warm-up before the race as it will help to gradually increase your breathing and circulation, and warm up the muscles. Start your day with a warm-to-hot shower to pre-warm your body. About 10 to 15 minutes before the race start, walk briskly for three minutes. Then run easy for five minutes and finish with four or more 10-second pick-ups at a faster pace. A warm-up will help you transition from stop to go more comfortably.

More: Your Guide to a Dynamic Warm-Up

10. Run efficiently. Rest up for race day by cutting your total mileage and intensity down. Also remove your strength-specific workouts. The running workouts during race week are all about keeping your legs loose. They should be short (30 to 40 minutes) in duration and relatively easy in intensity.

Review the race course and note the turns. The fastest way from start-to-finish is the most direct route. Mindfully run the course like an elite runner taking the tangent at every turn. A tangent is a straight line just outside the curve. Taking the long way around every corner can add a lot more distance to your total and they're not going to award you for the extra at the end with a 10.8K finisher's shirt.

More: Tips for Energy-Efficient Running

Finally, at every mile marker in the race, think through a head-to-toe inventory of your running form. Your head, neck and shoulders should be relaxed. Your arms, swinging like a pendulum from the shoulder with relaxed hands (avoid crossing your arms beyond the center line/naval). Your hips should be in alignment and under your shoulders and keep your feet striking with short, quick strides.

Running your first 10K is a fantastically fun adventure. Keep these tips in mind as you progress to the start line and smile across the finish.

More: 10 Steps to a Successful 10K

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