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A beginners guide to racing
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A beginners guide to racing

Follow our simple steps to beginning racing

A race can be a daunting place to be.

By definition there are going to be a lot of competitive people around! But the good news, however, is that there are likely to be people in the same situation as you and who are willing to help you. If you are a beginner, just run to the best of your abilities and enjoy the day. If you follow these steps they will help you have a positive experience:

  1. Choose your race wisely. Find an event that is over a distance you can comfortably manage, somewhere you can get to easily, that is on a date when you won’t have had a hectic week and where there are going to be runners of your ability. Charity events often have a higher than normal number of beginners. Call or email the organiser to check it fits the bill for you. 
  2. Train for the race. It sounds obvious but you need to go out and do some running. Gym classes may help your fitness but running is the key way to get better at running. The longer the distance of the race the more distance you need to cover each week in training. Check out our how to run a faster 5k and 10k guides or register for our bespoke coach training from the home page.
  3. Consider the distance. You should have covered race distance in runs in training before trying a race of up to 10m. For a half marathon you should have got up to 10m in your longest run of the week. Before a marathon this longest run of the week should have got up to two hours.
  4. ‘Ease down’ before the race. In the week before the event cut the distances you usually run in half and save your energy for race day.
  5. Arrive in good time. It is better to be able to sit and relax at the venue than to be sat in traffic panicking.
  6. Stay hydrated. Drink a little and often before you race – don’t get bloated but feel hydrated. (Another reason you won’t want to be stuck in a car just before you run!)
  7. Don’t be intimidated. There will be a lot of people who look very professional and are doing long complicated warm-ups. Ignore them.
  8. Warm up (for distances below half marathon). Don’t do too much. A short easy jog and some stretching is fine. A few short bursts of 50m or so of smooth, faster running may help you too but don’t worry about these.
  9. Start steady. It is very easy to get drawn into going off too fast but start sensibly. Most people (including experienced runners) go off too fast and slow later. It leads to slower times that hurt more! It is better to start slow and pick up if you are able. Adrenaline may well mean what feels ‘slow’ is actually plenty fast enough.
  10. Be prepared to work. At some point it will probably get hard. At some point someone will probably breeze past looking effortless. At some point you will probably have doubts and wonder why you’re there. These are all disconcerting but perfectly normal experiences. Don’t let them panic you. Stick to the task – the satisfaction at the end is fantastic.

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