Every experienced runner has to start somewhere as a complete novice, learning and picking up new nuggets of information on the go. And most runners have regrets – of things that they wish they had known, and mistakes that they wish they hadn’t made, before they ran their first-ever race, be it a 5km or a 10km race.
Here are some of the things that as a runner, you may have liked to know, or be aware of – before taking part in the first race.
1. How to hydrate yourself
On training runs, it is easy to carry a 500ml bottle of either water or isotonic beverage and simply stop and take a sip when you feel thirsty and need to hydrate yourself.
But during a race, you may not want to waste precious seconds slowing down and stopping at the water stations, and so you may attempt to guzzle some water down on the go. But sometimes this is close to impossible, if you don’t have the right technique of doing so. That’s because water may spill out onto the ground instead of into your mouth. So if you wish to drink from an open cup on the go, try pinching the cup – or stop, catch your breath and walk – and you will actually be getting more fluids into your mouth.
2. How to pace properly
Many recreational runners, especially beginners, may make the mistake of running too fast at the start of the race – and find themselves lacking energy and ending up walking halfway through the race. Even though you may know your pace and what you are capable of, it is wise to employ pacing strategies that you have used during training – on the day of the race, instead of getting caught up in the hype and adrenaline of race day, and winding up going much too fast – especially at the start. You must pace yourself. This is something that many inexperienced runners wish they had known – before running their first race.
3. How to dress during the race
Depending on where you are having your race, wearing the right clothing for the run is important too – and many beginner runners tend to forget about this.
For example, if you are running in a colder climate, such as in countries having a temperature of 10 or 12 degrees Celsius on the day of the race, it might be wise to wear layers of throwaway clothes, such as old tops that you no longer need, or even wrap garbage bags around yourself. This way, you won’t feel cold and end up shivering. And as you heat up during the run, you can discard the layers – without burdening yourself by having to carry the extra clothes in your hand, for the entire duration of the race.
4. Entering a race can be an addiction
For some runners, completing a marathon is something that’s on their bucket list – and they are happy to run it once and be glad to retire from running immediately after that.
But for others, it quickly becomes an addiction. Signing up for one race means training for and completing that race – and then putting your name down for yet another race shortly afterwards, because you may feel empty without any running race on the horizon. That is despite the fact you may have been cursing yourself for signing up for the race, during the hard months of training, or even during the race itself when you were hitting the wall.
So before you sign up for your first race – just be careful, because it may just lead to an addiction!