Be the tortoise, not the hare.
The easiest way to a beautiful finish line photo is to pace yourself from the start. Take the four parts of the race (mentioned above) and color them in with Yellow (Mile One), Orange (Mile Two), Red (Mile Three) and Fire (yes this is a color and it aptly represents the final .1 mile kick). Now, run by color – rather than your watch! The body doesn't know pace. It knows effort. Run by your breath and keep it easy for the Yellow Zone (Happy) or mile 1 – you should be able to talk. If you can't, slow down. For mile two, take it to the Orange Zone – or at an effort level a little harder than Yellow, and an effort where you can hear your breath, but you're not gasping for air. As you run past mile two, pick it up slightly and head for mile three. This is what you've paid for, and the time to go fishing. Cast out your invisible hook and catch a runner ahead of you (one that went out too quickly and is suffering the consequences) and reel them in (nicelyJ). There is nothing more empowering than to pass people in the final stages of a race. When you hit mile 3, run tall, keep your effort, and prepare for your finish line dance. When you have the patience to pace yourself from within and from the start, you will have the strength to finish like a super hero.
Stroll, pinch, and drink.
I have many running tops that bare the memories of first attempts at running through aid stations. Thank goodness tie-dye is back in. Hydration is an important element to your racing success, and it's best to invest in a few seconds to get your fuel in you – rather than on you. Pay attention to how the stations are set up. Is the water first or is the sports drink? How many tables are there? As you run into the aid station, stay in the middle of the road. Listen for what they are calling out (water or sports drink). Make eye contact with the volunteer. Walk. Grab a cup, pinch it, and drink. Once it's down the hatch, get back into your running tempo. If you have the energy, thank the volunteers for being there. Races would not exist without the kindness of volunteers.
Run the tangents.
The shortest distance between two points is a straight or somewhat curvy line. As you make your way through the 5K, be on the look-out for turn and curves and avoid taking the scenic way around as it can add distance to your race. It's also a great way to stay mindfully engaged as you navigate the course.
Celebrate every finish.
You only get to run your first 5K once a lifetime. Take it all in, run for the finish rather than the watch, and celebrate your accomplishment. You've earned it?
More: Running Training Tips