Surviving Your First Road Race
By Exercise Physiologist Sean Norman
The season is changing and with the weather cooling down the fall road race season has begun. For those of you deciding to participate in your first road race here are some helpful tips from an experienced road racer that will help you conquer your first road race.
The first thing you want to do is decide on a race you would like to run. There are all kinds of road races from 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon road races. When choosing your first race try to do some research and see what challenges the race consists of. All road races are different. Some have steep hills and elevated terrain while others are mostly flat surfaced. Ask friends and family members about races they have done in the past so you can get an idea of which races you think you can do.
Once you have settled on a race it’s time to start training. To train properly for a road race you want to build up your endurance. Weeks and even months before a road race start running outside to get a feel for outdoor running. You want to set distance goals for yourself each week leading up to the race so by the time raceday comes you will be ready to go the full distance. During your endurance training makes sure to keep yourself fully hydrated and bring a water on your runs if you can. During your training sessions find out the exact layout of the track and do a walkthrough of the course so you can to see where the difficult parts of the course are and if you have the course mapped out you will be more comfortable with the race because you will know what to expect.
The night before the race try to consume carbohydrate rich foods such as pasta and bread. Carbohydrates delay fatigue and improve a runner’s endurance, speed, energy and alertness.
On the day of the race make sure that you have a good carbohydrate rich breakfast. Foods that are good to eat are bagels, waffles or oatmeal. You also want to consume at least two 8 ounce glasses of water prior to the race. During the race it’s always good to maintain a good pace. Most road races are timed but don’t worry about the time just keep the pace you want to run at and keep pushing forward because it’s all about just finishing the race. If you have runners that are quicker than you always let them by to avoid any collisions. Road races have plenty of checkpoints for water so grab water when you can.
If you follow these race tips properly than you should have no difficulty surviving your first road race.