9 Mistakes to Avoid in Your First 5K
You've spent plenty of time preparing for what you need to do to cross the finish line and reach your goals. But what about what you shouldn't do? One costly mistake could put a damper on what should be a rewarding experience.
Here are nine mistakes to avoid in your first 5K.
Bringing a Bag When There's No Gear Check
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Before planning what to bring to the race, check the race website or information packet to see if there's a gear check station. Longer races typically have you covered, but 5Ks may not. If this is the case, be sure to plan ahead for what to do with your car keys and any other items you'll need with you.
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Being on your own at a race event, especially your first, can take away from the experience. Try to convince a friend or family member to join you. If no one wants to run with you, ask someone to at least greet you at the finish line and join you for the post-race festivities.
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Drinking too much water before a race can make you feel bloated and dilute your electrolytes. Diluted electrolyte levels can cause muscle weakness or cramping. In extreme cases, overhydrating can lead to hyponatremia, a life-threatening condition.
Changing Your Normal Routine
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Eating different foods or wearing new shoes can be risky. To be safe, just stick to your regular routine. Once you start training for your next race, take the lessons you learned from your first and start experimenting with tweaks and changes.
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It may seem obvious, but don't forget that a 5K is 3.1 miles, not 3 miles. If you're planning your race pace, calculate with the extra one-tenth of a mile in mind. At an 8-minute mile pace, it takes 48 seconds to run one-tenth of a mile.
Starting Too Fast
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With all the built-up excitement that comes along with your first race, it's common to start like you've been shot out of a cannon. To avoid the dreaded bonk, keep yourself at a comfortable pace for the first two miles. Once you hit the last leg, dig deep and give everything you have left.
Not Preparing for Elevation Climbs
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If you've done most of your training on flat roads, encountering an incline during your first race can throw you off. If you've never done it before, running a quarter mile with a slight climb can tire your legs more than expected and affect the rest of your race. If your race has any hills, try to train for this beforehand.
Forgetting to Recover
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In the excitement following your race, it's easy to forget to recover properly, especially with post-race festivities. Many races will have recovery foods and drinks available for runners, so grab a banana, sports drink or whatever else you need and take a few minutes to rest your legs and stretch.
Taking Things Too Seriously
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One of the most important pieces of advice for first-timers is to have fun. It's an accomplishment in itself to complete a 5K, and being too concerned with your time can take away from the experience.