It takes a certain amount of courage to step up to a start line at a 5K. All rookies (and many seasoned runners) get the jitters. Maybe you’ve signed up for a race this spring or are thinking about giving it a go. To squash some of the pre-race stress, take a look at some common comments often heard from newbies after their first 5K. Discover now (before the race) how you can avoid unsettling surprises.
6 Things You Might Not Expect During Your First 5K
1) “I Got SOOOOO Hot (or Cold)!
The rule of thumb when racing is to check out the projected weather forecast for the hour you will be racing and dress to accommodate temps that are 20 degrees warmer than what the mercury will reflect during your run. In other words, if it’s supposed to be 60 degrees during race time, dress as if it will be 80. Runner’s World has a “what to wear” tool you can access here that will diminish the guesswork.
2) “By the time I felt like I was gaining speed, the race was over!”
5k’s are relatively short races. And, remember, racing is different than running. A short warm-up jog (7-10 minutes) will get oxygen flowing to your muscles, lubricate your joints and focus your mind. Also, many racers run a few “strides” before the start to get ready for take-off! Sprint out a few yards and then decelerate to ready your system for quick action.
3) “I got trampled at the start.”
(Otherwise known as, “I’ll never look at an elbow the same way again…that is, once the swelling in my black eye goes down…”) A race is a race, and a lot of folks take it very seriously! To avoid getting run over when the start gun fires, ask the people around you at the starting line what pace they run. You will quickly understand whether you need to step back or move forward to find “your people.” If you want to avoid getting elbowed, get out of the center of the pack and run on the edges until the crowd thins out.
4) “I ran out of steam by the third mile.”
Avoid going out too fast. Racing a 5K should be challenging and not chit-chatty. You should be able to say “good job” to the person running near you. But, you shouldn’t want to dissertate. Your kick at the end should leave you breathless.
5) “The person next to me didn’t ‘look’ fast.
But they kicked my butt…while wearing a tuxedo! You can’t judge a book by the cover when it comes to a person’s ability to run fast and strategize well at a race. People will surprise you. Understand that you are your competition. Run your race, rather than trying to figure out the plan of the person next to you.
6) “That was a BLAST. When’s the next race?”
Run with that feeling! Sign-up for another 5K and step up to the start-line again!