You can run around the neighborhood all you want, but nothing can simulate your first 5K. With butterflies in your stomach and flocks of people lining up around you, the feeling can't be replicated.
Regardless of the outcome, your first race is an eye-opening experience. You get a feel for the race day atmosphere and learn from your preparation, performance and results.
Here are five lessons I learned from my first 5K, which took place in the America's Finest City annual event in San Diego, California.
In the weeks leading up to the race, I found myself overly concerned with what my goal time should be. This is tough to avoid for competitive people. Still, try your best to minimize the importance of a goal time.
Getting caught up with what your time should be can take away from the joyful feeling of crossing the finish line. Remember, no matter what time you get, it will be your new personal best.
Maybe you're on your way to finally achieving your goal of participating in a race. Maybe you're using your first 5K as a springboard to train for longer races in the future. Whatever your situation is, be proud of what you are about to accomplish.
Get rid of the goal time and try to relax your mind and body. Focus on simply giving your best effort and finishing the race, and allow yourself to enjoy the feat you will soon conquer.
Some Races are Early...Really Early
Not a morning person? Wait until you see what time you have to set your alarm for on race day.
Races often start early, and with time for breakfast, driving, parking and a warm-up needed, don't be surprised if you're waking up at 5 a.m. If you're worried about tossing and turning all night, try to wake up as early as you can the day before.
For example, if your race is at 7 a.m. on Sunday, try waking up around 5 a.m. on Saturday. Find things that will keep you busy throughout the day, and avoid taking a nap to help you fall asleep later on.
If you usually exercise in the afternoon or evening, running in the early morning can be different for your body. In the weeks leading up to the race, try to run early a few times to simulate what it will be like.