Race day advice for beginners

Stay relaxed and boss your first big race with these helpful tips from MR's Josh Puttock

A regular racer might become immune to the busy nature of a big event. But for those with less experience, the occasion can be quite overwhelming. Not many of us are able to train in among big crowds and closed-off roads! But don’t panic as we’ve outlined a few things that you might want to consider before the big day. So if you’re new to racing then follow these tips, and let your focus turn to running!

Arrive early

Don’t be late. There’s nothing worse than being in unfamiliar surroundings and having to find out where everything is in a hurry. Trudging through waves of people in search of your friend, the entry table or the toilet becomes a whole lot harder when you’re in a rush. Arrive early, find a place to park the car and familiarise yourself with the layout – it’ll make the day a lot less stressful.

Eat smart

Don’t be tempted to try the new pre-race meal that you found on the Internet the night before. Stick to what you know works for you and ensure that it’s consumed around two to three hours before the race. Your breakfast should be very similar – if not exactly the same – as the food you eat before your training runs. Keep it normal and stick to what your body is used to.

Fuel carefully

If you’re running a longer distance race then you might be drawn to stocking up on the supplements. But be careful and, like before, use tried and tested gels, bars and fluids. Energy snacks could help to improve your performance but don’t go over the top. Keep light and nourished and try to resist heavily carbo-loading the night before, as a disrupted sleep could lead to poor digestion and a bloated feeling on race day.

Dress wisely

Check the weather and gear up the night before. Reaching for kit first the thing in the morning can backfire; a cloudy start could soon turn sunny and warm within a few hours. Wearing too much might cause you some discomfort during your race so try and dress light. Be aware of what you’re putting on and don’t leave it until the last minute.

Start slow

Don’t be swayed into running a pace similar to those around you, especially if you’re positioned near the front. Setting off too quickly wont bank you time and could result in you running a poor race. Start steady and try to finish well, making sure that you run at your own pace. The excitement and adrenaline will still be there near the end, so aim for a strong finish.

Enjoy it

It’s not everyday that you take part in your first race so soak it all up. Most races are largely recreational and are great fun to be a part of, so make the most of the day and the experience. Try and resolve any fitness issues or problems that you might have in the months leading up to the race, and let the day be all about your run and having fun!

Men's Running

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