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Tips for first 5k

posted about 5 years ago | Report

I'm getting ready to sign up for my first 5k. I'm planning on running it more to just finish and have the race day experience I've been reading about everywhere. I've got a training plan set up and I think I'm comfortable with that aspect.

With the training plan out of the way, I'm looking for any race day tips that experience folks may have. Should I go chip-timed or self-timed? How early should I show up to the race site if I've pre-registered? Should I bring anything except my car key and ID during the race?

You know, stuff like that. Any input is appreciated, thanks!

24 posts

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  • I've only run 2 races so I don't exactly have a lot of experience but I think how early to show up will depend on how many participants b/c that could affect the parking situation. I would try to be there at least 30 minutes before start. Know where to park and where the start is. Check out the course map to be somewhat familiar with the route. Figure out where the finish line is in relation to the parking.

    Start in the back, start slow, even if every other person is passing you up. Save your energy for later in the race.

    I would also bring some money, just in case.

    Is anyone coming to watch you? You might want them to take pics.

    Not sure what you mean by chip vs self timing. Chip will be official time. I would time myself too with my own watch b/c if there are a lot of runners may take some time before you cross the start.

    Have a great first 5k!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Well, I've run more than 400 races, but Mimi's advice pretty much covers it!

    Another just-in-case item: some extra safety pins. Most races provide enough to pin your bib at all four corners, but I HATE it with a passion on the rare occasions when they don't. So, I always have a few extra safety pins in the gym bag I take to races.

    Speaking of bibs: Be sure to pin it to the FRONT of your body where race volunteers can see it. That's just a courtesy; I've performed volunteer tasks twice now where I've come to see why they ask runners to do that! And so, now I tell every beginning racer where to put the bib. If you wear a shirt or singlet, the most out-of-the-way place for the bib is high on the chest where you don't keep hitting it as you swing your arms.

    Something in Mimi's list that is worth repeating: Start slow! At first, you will be running a lot faster than it feels like you're running - race day adrenaline and all, you know. The most common novice mistake is starting much too fast. Starting in the back of the pack (even if you don't really think you belong there) is one good way to guard against that tendency.

    Above all else: HAVE FUN!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • all of the above is great above...

    I would add

    1. Lay out everything you need the night before.
    2. Arrive early and warm up correctly. I'd say 1hr to 45mins before start depending on size of race.
    3. Many races have left luggage where you can leave everything.
    4. Enjoy it!

    Good luck...

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Thanks all, these tips are just the kind of stuff I'm looking for. At this rate I'm going to show up and look/act like a pro!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Ditto to everything. I drink about 24-32 ounces of water in the AM pre-race then hit the potty 10 minutes before I start. I drink alot of water though and my body is pretty much used it so unless you are used to that don't do it but drink water pre-race. Have a plan for the keys ect.

    If you run with headphone load up your tunes and have everything ready.

    Start in your pace group..not ahead as it can jam up the start line.

    Smile alot.

    If it is hot run through any sprinkler you see and thank the folks who leave them on for you and wave.

    Have Fun.

    posted about 5 years ago

  • If the race provides chip timing, wear the chip. Also time yourself.

    I'll add yet another vote for starting at a conservative pace. As John said, race day excitement mixed with the fact that you're surrounded by people starting faster than they should will make you feel like you're going slow.

    I usually show up 30 - 45 min before a 5K. Don't overdo on the warm up.

    I take my car key off the ring and put it in the little key pocket that most running shorts have. Other than that I don't carry anything during the race. Most races provide water, sports drinks, and (maybe) a snack at the end.

    I like to know where the hills are on the course. If there's a nasty hill near the end, be slightly more conservative on the pace in the first couple miles.

    Have fun! Good luck.

    posted about 5 years ago

  • I'm also gearing up for my first 5K in a little over a week. All this info was very helpful.
    As for your comment about just wanting to finish and have the race day experience...me, too. I've adopted the Endurance riders' motto (I also have horses) "To Finish Is To Win".
    Have a great race, and thanks for the post!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • All good advice. The other thing I would say is not to do anything too different from what you would do before any other training run: no new clothes you haven't run in, no new gear or technology that you haven't already road tested, no terribly different food or drink routine. If you want to try something new to improve your performance, ie drinking coffee or eating something different the night before or morning of, do it a couple of times with your training runs to see how it works for you ahead of time. A lot of changes will add unnecessary nervousness to the race. It's enough to get there dressed and on time, so forget adding a lot of new things that distract you.

    posted about 5 years ago | edited about 5 years ago

  • I want to further emphasize the "Start Slow" mantra that started with Mimi. Even though it is repetitive, it bears repeating. Start slow!

    To emphasize the point, I'll tell you a little story. A few years ago, I entered a 5K organized through my law school, so I was running with classmates and future colleagues. This was NOT my first race, but it was my first race in a long time. I ran a lot in high school and college, but I hadn't for several years. I did a little bit of "training" before the race (i.e. a ran 2-3 miles maybe 2 or 3 times a week for about a month before the race), so I felt I was ready.

    Race day came, and I positioned myself toward the front (not all the way, but maybe 3/4 of the way forward) because I had been a captain of my track team in high school and had been able to run between 6-7 min. miles in college. When the race started, I went out fast with the people I was sure I could keep up with.

    Then I realized "OK, this is a little too fast... I'll just slow down a bit, and finish the race at what should have been my pace to begin with." And let my first group of friends go ahead of me. But, the amount I slowed down still wasn't enough, so I had to slow down a little more... and a little more... and a little more. In reality, I was still probably going at too fast a pace for my fitness level (or at best right at what would have been my pace if I hadn't blown my wad out of the start gate). Before the first mile was even done, I had to walk because I was too tired to keep jogging. I was able to start jogging again later in the race, but the damage was already done and I had to walk several more times.

    The worst moment of this experience was just before the 1 mile marker (so less than 1/3 of the way into the race), I was sweating profusely and breathing so hard I wouldn't have been able to say more than a few words to anyone. And then, people pushing running strollers started to pass me. And not just the really serious runners who decided to bring their kids that day... groups of moms and dads who were leisurely jogging while holding a conversation WITH NO NOTICEABLE DEEP BREATHING.

    Out of all of this, I learned the importance of knowing what your pace should be. So my "race day" advice actually starts when you are training. During your training, have 1 or 2 runs (or if your training plan is long enough, 3 or 4) of around 5K where you try to simulate running the race (by which I mean run at a "comfortably hard" pace that you think you can maintain over 3.1 miles). This will do two things: (1) it will give you a good idea about what is a realistic goal race time (if you're training, you have to have a goal); (2) it will help you get accustomed to how your pace should feel so that you will (hopefully) know when you're pushing it too much during the race.

    I know you're just trying to finish, and since you've already taken the time to work out a training plan, I guarantee you'll be able to finish. BUT, I am a big believer in striving to run the best race you can because it gives you such a psychological boost to cross the finish line running strong after running a strong race (even more so than running a faster time, but where you had to walk or jog really slow in the middle to recover because you went out too fast). You can only do this if you pace yourself and don't go out too fast.

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Pretty exciting times, I still remember my 1st 5K race like it was yesterday, today I am training for my 2nd half marathon! All kinds of good advice has been given here. I would like to reiterate the importance of starting slow and working your way up in pace to where you are comfortable. As you get to the last couple of K's, and you are feeling good you can increase your pace to where you are a bit uncomfortable, but if all goes well you should be able to cross the finish line still feeling strong but knowing you have run a good race :) When I ran my 1st race I was not too concerned with my time, not having participated in a race before I had nothing to relate to so I just focused on what I new I could do based on my training leading up to the big day. Most of all, enjoy the race and have fun, cause if your not having fun what's the point other then it's good for you :) , after that you can start focusing more on times, longer distances, etc. Good luck!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • My first 5k was in March, following it I wrote 11 thing I learned running my first 5k: http://www.randomn3ss.com/running-my-first-5k-race-11-things-i-learned/

    Today was my 7th, tomorrow will be my 8th 5k of the year. Everything holds true still for me. I still don't drink enough water pre-race and still usually run a substantially faster first mile then each of the following two, which ultimately kills my finish time.

    Not all 5k's have a medical staff, remember that. A while ago I photocopied my drivers license and on the flip side my insurance card, and then added emergency contact info - and laminated it. I usually have this on me for long bike rides, but now that I think about it, it should probably go with me to races too. Or, buy a RoadID.

    posted about 5 years ago

  • I just ran my first 5K yesterday so I know how you feel. I would suggest pacing yourself! Its so easy to give in to the excitement and start off really fast but before you know it, you burn out...which is what happened to me. I would def go chip-timed. You should probably arrive about 45-1 hour before start of race. Enough time to check in and warm up. You shouldnt need anything other than your key on you...Good luck! Have fun and enjoy the moment!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • I was just going to post the same exact question, but this thread answers it perfectly.

    I'll be running my first 5K (my first race for which I've been training, compared to others where I would just sign up to run it because it was the local yearly race) next week-end, October 3rd. I've been running since February without any particular goal other than staying in shape, so now that I have something to look forward to and motivate me, I also have a few questions. I consider myself in pretty good shape; I run 3 times a week and do running intervals once a week.

    - Should I run a mile or so the morning of the race? I'm afraid that just the warmup before the race with the added stress won't be enough.

    - For the last week, I've been running around 6K to get used to that distance and my best pace was around 7:30. Though I try to start off "faster" than a usual run to get used to race conditions, I know that the race will start much faster than I'll be able to go, even if the pace settles after a few minutes. Any tips other than just letting every one pass me in the first minute, then me passing them after 4K when they're tired and I'm happy I didn't start too fast? Or is that just the way to do it?

    - The race is at 4:30 in the afternoon. What is a good choice of food for the lunch meal? Should I eat anything before the race?

    Thanks!

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Whether or not you go chip timed or self timed is up to the race organisers, but if you have a stop watch - wear it so you can guage where you are at during the race. If you have been given a chip - you must wear it or your presence in the race will not be recognised.

    Sometimes it's motivational if there are distance markers on the course and you are aiming for a particular time, you can keep a good steady pace going if you are planned ahead of time and know how fast you can run. It takes practice to know your different speeds and what 5 minutes /km feels like (or an alternative pace), but wearing a watch can help that.

    As far as pre race house keeping - it's best to be there an hour before. Depending on where you are - a big city high profile race - or a community race, there is always a line for the toilets! You should also allow time to warm up, stretch and be settled - maybe even a little bit social!

    You shouldn't need any id if you've preregistered and already have your numbers and chip to put on your shoe. You basically should just need your car key - safety pin it to inside your shorts or between your shoe laces so you dont lose it and dont have to carry it. Keep a bottle of water in the car for after the race - you'll need to rehydrate gradually over the day even after a couple of cups at or during the race.

    posted about 5 years ago

  • you have gotten alot of good advice just wishing you well

    posted about 5 years ago

  • Thanks to everyone for their responses on this thread. Since posting I've run three races and used all the great suggestions listed here.

    Rather than just leach off everyone, I thought I'd drop by and add a couple things that I've started doing along with everything else listed:

    Along with the extra safety pins, I now carry some small zip ties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cable_tie) with me. One race I was in used a reusable chip and the tiny zip tie provided was near impossible to use to attach the chip to my laces. I got a bag of some that were a little bigger just to make it easier next time.

    Also, I have dedicated a camelback to my race days. It's handy for carrying an extra t-shirt for after the race, water, safety pins, zip ties, basically all the little stuff that I want to make sure I always have on race day.

    Thanks again to everyone's help!

    posted almost 5 years ago

  • Aaron and everyone who posted, thanks for the tips, timely for this approaching first-5k runner. I'm sure this will be useful advice to many!

    posted almost 5 years ago

  • Make sure you use the port-o-john before the race starts! Good Luck!

    posted almost 5 years ago

  • Two words "ICE BATH" this might not be the best tip for a first 5k but as an experienced runner it entirely relaxes the legs and gives you a fresh start the next day First you just fill a tub to right above your calves when your sitting with cold water Then you dump some ice in and sit in the bath for arounds ten minutes. I know this is pretty crazy but the effect is SOOO worth it i just relized this forum is like two years old :P

    posted about 3 years ago | edited about 3 years ago

  • Two words "ICE BATH" this might not be the best tip for a first 5k but as an experienced runner it entirely relaxes the legs and gives you a fresh start the next day First you just fill a tub to right above your calves when your sitting with cold water Then you dump some ice in and sit in the bath for arounds ten minutes. I know this is pretty crazy but the effect is SOOO worth it ... i just relized how old this forum is... :D

    posted about 3 years ago

  • in reply to what Michael M. said:I want to further emphasize the "Start Slow" mantra that started with Mimi. Even though it is repetitive, it bears repeating. Start slow! To emphasize the point, I'll tell you a little story. A few years ago, I entered a 5K orga... read more

    AMEN Michael!!! I had the same exact experience for my first 5K. Started at the start like a bat out of hell and ended up walking the majority of the last 2/3's of the race. Slow and steady wins the race!!!

    posted about 3 years ago

  • in reply to what Michael M. said:I want to further emphasize the "Start Slow" mantra that started with Mimi. Even though it is repetitive, it bears repeating. Start slow! To emphasize the point, I'll tell you a little story. A few years ago, I entered a 5K orga... read more

    AMEN Michael!!! I had the same exact experience for my first 5K. Started at the start like a bat out of hell and ended up walking the majority of the last 2/3's of the race. Slow and steady wins the race!!!

    posted about 3 years ago

  • in reply to what Michael M. said:I want to further emphasize the "Start Slow" mantra that started with Mimi. Even though it is repetitive, it bears repeating. Start slow! To emphasize the point, I'll tell you a little story. A few years ago, I entered a 5K orga... read more

    AMEN Michael!!! I had the same exact experience for my first 5K. Started at the start like a bat out of hell and ended up walking the majority of the last 2/3's of the race. Slow and steady wins the race!!!

    posted about 3 years ago

  • Just have fun

    posted about 3 years ago

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