Racing this weekend? Or maybe thinking about registering for an upcoming 5K or half-marathon? Entering a foot race is one of the most satisfying things a runner can do. The anticipation alone can be a real thrill.
Without that carrot dangling in front of them, many runners find it difficult to get motivated to run day after day, week after week. Then, of course, there is the camaraderie of the race itself, the sense of accomplishment, and the resulting boost in self-confidence. To say nothing of the free T-shirt.
That you must train is obvious. But there are also non-running bits of etiquette and expertise you need to know to make the most of your experience—without embarrassing yourself (or anyone else, for that matter). This excerpt from The Runner's Field Manual provides a tactical (and practical) guide to your next big event.
How to Judge a Race by Its Name
An event with the word shuffle, trot, or romp in its name is very likely to be accommodating to newbies, costumed runners, and the occasional or not-so-serious runner. This is also true of races with seasonal words like turkey, Santa, or jingle bells. Conversely, a race with the words mountain, pain, hell, or widowmaker is likely to be hardcore.
The words tot, kids, or pint-sized indicate a children's race, and adults could probably kick some serious butt, but we don't advise it. A race with the word Olympic in the title probably is out of your league, unless you are Ryan Hall.
Tag Your Shirt
A surefire way to garner personal attention is to display your name on your shirt. You can handwrite your name with a permanent marker, but keep in mind it is permanent. Bits of electrical tape work, too, although they may peel off mid-race, resulting in gibberish or inadvertent profanity. Professional screen printing looks very professional but can be expensive.
More: 10 Tips to Race Tough