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So you’ve decided to run your first 5k — congrats! Whether you’re new to running entirely, or have been putting in miles for years and are just now making your relationship official, you’re in for an exciting road ahead. We don’t just mean the course, though. The path to a successful 5K begins well before the starting line, so keep these considerations in mind for a fast and fun-filled first race.
First 5K- Be Prepared
Obviously, this applies to the training that you need before race day, whether you’re already relatively fit from other sports and simply need to transition your muscles to running, or if you’re slipping on your running shoes for the first time. There are plenty of training plans available, from something specific like the Couch to 5K program to a more general, 7-week running plan. Find one that works for your current fitness level, and stick with it in the weeks before the race.
Tech It Up
We’re not saying we only run as an excuse to get new gear, but a snazzy watch certainly never hurt in propelling us out the door. Moreover, these days, a fitness tracker or smartwatch can do so much more than simply giving old-school splits.
The Garmin Forerunner 645, for example, can tell you every stat you’ve ever wanted to know about your running, from stride length to your vertical oscillation — a useful number in determining how efficiently you’re running. Even if you don’t care about any metric besides those 3.1 miles, however, the Forerunner 645 has a host of other benefits, from payments on the go to extra motivation from sharing your workouts with friends.
If you don’t want to commit to a dedicated running watch, other popular smartwatches can offer just as many benefits for your training. In addition to tracking your miles, the latest smartwatch from Apple can give you and your family peace of mind with additional safety features that range from monitoring your heart with an ECG to knowing when you’ve had a fall and alerting emergency services.
First 5K- Race Day Game Plan
Investing in gear and deciding on a plan will help you get started, but you also need to sort out the particulars for race day. For instance, if your race will be in the morning, Active suggests a breakfast with ample protein and carbs to provide the fuel you need.
You’ll also want to know what shoes you’re wearing for the race and make sure they’re broken in with plenty of miles beforehand. Similarly, avoid the urge to try out a new fancy running outfit on race day. A successful 5K is all about knowing what works for you, and that means giving everything a test run prior to the real event in order to make sure nothing chafes or rubs the wrong way.
Know Your Pace
One of the trickiest considerations for your first race is your pace. Without any previous experience, it can be hard to know what goals to set, and it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and go too fast at the beginning.
To combat this, in the weeks beforehand, try doing regular runs at the pace at which you’d like to run the 5K, in order for your body to learn how that speed feels. If you run with music, figure out the beats-per-minute — or BPM — for that pace, and then find songs that match it. Load a playlist on your phone, strap it to your arm, and you won’t even have to think about how fast you’re going during the race. Just run to the beat!
When race day comes, I Am Running This explains you should be careful about where you position yourself at the start line and remember that, for your first race at least, you’ll enjoy it much more if you have some extra energy left for a strong finish at the end, rather than running out of gas midway.
You’re ready to run!
From prep to tech, there are a lot of things to consider for your first race. As you progress and learn what works for you, the nerves will likely fade. What never will, though? The excitement of the event, the sense of community with other runners, and your own sense of accomplishment. Good luck!