How to Prepare the Day of Your First 5K Race

Good for you! You’ve decided to try running a race. There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line for the first time. If you’ve just started upping the ante on your exercise game, though, a race setting can be a little intimidating.

So, you’ve been training over the past few months to run your first 5K. Although it’s exciting, if you’re not a seasoned runner, it can be nerve wrecking. Are you prepared for the event? Is there anything else you should be doing or considering before and after the race?

Good news! We’ve compiled a list of helpful milestones you should consider from our in-house trainer Jennifer Brazen. Check these out:

Leading up to the race:

  • The week before: Make sure to read through your race packet and look at the course. It may even be helpful to drive by or through the course to get an idea of what the track’s and where you will be starting and finishing. Don’t run or do any heavy leg training three days before the race. Get your groovy playlist together and plan what you are wearing (something that makes you feel confident is a good choice)! Don’t forget to see what the weather is going to be like; if there is a chance of rain and/or it might be cold, plan to wear a waterproof jacket or long-sleeve top. You aren’t going to get any faster at this point, so it’s best to just to have fun, relaxed workouts.
  • Night before: Eat what you would normally eat at night and nothing new or unhealthy. Charge your watch and iPod and lay out what you are going to wear. Make sure to get at least seven hours of quality sleep.

You Did It! The Day of the Race:

  • Morning of race: Wake up about 1-1.5 hours before the race and eat breakfast. Eat something that is low in sugar and fiber with no more than seven grams of protein. Bananas are also good options. Don’t eat too much and drink some water. If it’s hot, drink Gatorade or similar drink. Get to your race place at least 30 minutes ahead of time (more if you think you will have trouble parking). Warm-up walk/jog for about 10 minutes and then do some easy stretches. Also, use this time to go to the bathroom.
  • During race: If you warm-up properly beforehand, you can start off pretty fast. But, just like with all races you don’t want to burn out, so it helps to start out slow and steady. Hopefully you’ve been training and know what your goal paces are for each mile split. This race is pretty short, so you likely don’t need to stop for water and/or go to the bathroom. If you are fast make sure to get closer to the front of the starting line so that you don’t have to push past all the walkers or trip over anyone. Try to make your last mile your fastest and stay relaxed.
  • After race: Stretching is important because most likely you were going faster than you normally do on training runs and sustained it for three miles. Concentrate on your quads, glutes and calves. Also, if it’s hot make sure to keep drinking fluids all day long. Try to eat something with a mix of protein and carbs (peanut butter is GREAT) within 30 minutes of finishing and it will help with soreness.

This is a fun, quick race so you’ll have time to recover and enjoy your day!

Did we miss anything? What do you do to prepare? Leave us a question or comment below and good luck on your race!  

Most recent update: 4/4/2018

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