You’ve put in the training miles, but there’s no way to replicate the jitters that accompany your first race-day experience. Use these five tips to help tamper those nerves and energize your run.
Know What You're Wearing1 of 6
Remember the first day of school? Well, race day is pretty much like that. Plan what you're going to wear and lay out any necessities the night before the race. This includes your bib, shoes, costumes (why not?!), hats, layers and gear. Gather anything necessary for you to run the race in comfort.
Know What You're Eating2 of 6
Just because a 5K is "only" 3.1 miles, doesn't necessitate a lack of thought for nutrition. If you didn't eat a big meal for dinner the night before the race, be sure to eat something for breakfast with a little more sustenance about two hours prior to the start.
If you did eat a big meal the night before, you can go a little lighter on the breakfast and get by with something like a sports bar about half an hour before the race begins.
Either way, make sure your body isn't using energy to digest food while you run. You want all the energy you can muster to go toward running your best race.
Know Your Pace3 of 6
Have you ever seen a herd of animals run in formation? It's like they intuitively know where they're going together as a single unit. Humans—not so much. Everyone in a race is going to the same destination, but they're running their own race, which means their own pace and whatever other idiosyncrasies go with it.
People are running faster than you, others slower. It might be really difficult to nail down your rhythm, which might cause you to start the race at an unsustainable pace. Despite everything going on around you, races are insanely personal. Zero in on your breathing and your cadence and run the race the way you trained for it.
Know Your Warm-Up4 of 6
If you aren't already a morning runner, it might be especially difficult to get a cold body warmed up for the effort you're about to put in. Because a 5K isn't a terribly long distance, your body might not even be "warm" until well into your second mile. Doing a quick set of warm-up drills. will prepare your body for the effort you're about to ask of it.
Know the Race Area5 of 6
Part of the fun of any race is exploring new cities, or seeing familiar locales from a novel perspective. But to make settling into the race easier, it's best to familiarize yourself with the parking/transportation situation so you aren't frazzled trying to find a parking spot or the nearest train stop with mere minutes to spare.
Another part of what makes the race so fun is the pre- and post- race festivities, so it's perfectly normal to arrive 45 minutes to an hour early to enjoy the party and have some fun. That is what it's about, after all.
Now get after it and good luck!