Congratulations! Your 5k is around the corner and you are about to soak in all the benefits of the preparation you’ve done for your big day. Here are five tips from my own personal running and racing experience to help you have your best 5k as a beginner!
1. No running for at least 3 days before your race
Rest your legs and let your muscles store up energy for the important run! You don’t want to start your 5k with tired, heavy-feeling legs. If you’ve been sticking to your training schedule, you are amply prepared for your race and won’t miss out on anything by not sneaking in an extra run.
2. Understand packet pick-up…and make sure you do it!
Some races mail you your packet, but most require that you go somewhere nearby a night or two before your race to pick up your packet. Your packet contains your number (“bib”), some safety pins to attach your number to your shirt (on the front! Don’t lose the pins!), your timing chip or tag, course and parking information, and usually your race t-shirt and other fun coupons and race day info. (Bonus tip – usually only beginners wear the race shirt to the race…I’ll leave that decision up to you ultimately 🙂 )
3. Plan your race morning
Know where you’re going to park for the race and if you will need to pay cash. Know what time you need to arrive (hint: plan for 60-90 minutes before the start time). Know what you are eating for breakfast (hint: something normal that you would usually eat, maybe peanut butter toast or a banana with cereal…nothing heavy and nothing too high in fat). KNOW WHERE THE STARTING LINE IS. And plan to line up toward the back unless you are running the race in under 26 minutes.
Sleep extra 2 nights before your race – research has suggested that this night can be even more important for performance than sleep the night before your event, so don’t worry if you’re too excited to sleep on the night before your race 🙂
5. Lay out everything for your race the night before
EVERYTHING. Your entire outfit, down to the last detail. Your bib and safety pins. Your timing chip. Any accessories (visor, sunglasses, wrist wallet, compression socks, knee straps or braces, etc). Your car keys. Whatever version of a wallet you’re bringing with you. Anything you plan to eat or drink on the way to the race or once you get there. Anything that you will need in your car afterward (towels, a change of shoes…). Don’t leave anything up to chance for the morning of your race!
Have fun on the day of your 5k! Do your best, accept the fact that you will have to use a port-a-potty, don’t overthink things, and be proud of yourself for what you’re accomplishing.
Fun fact: after spending the first 15 years of my life unable to run, I still get teary every time I approach the start of a race. Always be grateful for what you have!