My sister and I finished our first 10K together (and my first ever!) on Sunday morning, and there were a few things that just went right. We ran along the water and finished in the middle of the pack. We beat our goal time. We were able to run side-by-side for the whole race.
Though of course, a first race is never perfect, here are a few of the things I’d suggest to make your first 10K a success.
1. Start small. The race that we chose was located in a local park. The path was flat and it lined Lake Washington with views of the mountains. More importantly, there were fewer than 500 people running, which made the experience much less intimidating. The announcer even used our names as we crossed the finish line! Though I’d love to do a bigger race in the future (maybe the Nike Women’s?) it was nice to start small and work up from there.
2. Run with an experienced friend. By far, the biggest difference in my race experience was made by my sister, who is a seasoned runner. She provided inspiration throughout the race (and during training!) and I’m confident that I wouldn’t have completed the race as successfully without her. It helped so much to have someone coaching me, encouraging me, and helping me focus in the moment. If you have a friend who has been through the race experience a few times before, I highly recommend that you run together!
3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. For your first race, one of the biggest hurdles is your own confidence. The more you run beforehand, the more you’ll learn about your own body and your mentality. I wish that I would have trained past 6.2 miles once or twice, just so that I would have known beforehand that I was fully capable. I’m sure that as you become a more experienced runner this isn’t as much of an issue, but for your first race it’s nice to have that extra confidence boost.
4. When you start getting tired, focus on your breathing. When my sister gets tired during a race, she puts all of her energy into her breathing. She mentally counts: One-two (breathe in) one-two (breathe out). She continues until her breathing is regulated and she’s been distracted for a few moments. It sounds simple and almost mechanical, but it helps immensely in relaxing and keeping a steady pace. Another tip? Shake out your hands! You may be holding tension in your arms.
5. Plan a post-race celebration. After we crossed the finish line exhausted and adrenaline-filled, we hobbled off to brunch for toast, grapefruit and biscuits and gravy. Brunch seemed like the perfect treat, especially since we were so hungry! It completed the morning for us. Remember: you’ve worked hard for this accomplishment, so it’s important to take the time to celebrate!
Hope these tips help! Are you much of a runner? Any tips of your own?! I’d love to hear!
P.S. I am not a doc or licensed fitness professional — these are simply the tips that have made a difference for me. Always listen to your body and consult your doctor before making any major fitness changes.