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Tips For Running Your First 5K — Part 4

Starting to run may have seemed like a large enough undertaking. After working up in mileage, a 5K seems more of a possibility now. But the process can be nerve-racking. Competing against other runners instead of just yourself, not knowing where to go or what to do on race day.

This five-part series will offer some suggestions on how to make your first 5K experience a smooth one. Please feel free to pose additional comments below.

Part 4: Running the Race

You are here!

At the race, the sun is shining. You have your bib number. It’s pinned to the front of your shirt. You have your kicks on and they are not the new ones you bought at the store last night. You are ready to run this race.

There is likely a crowd of people there. Maybe there are vendors and things to check out while you wait for the race to start. An announcement comes over the loudspeaker. “Runners to the start!”

Follow the crowd to the starting line. You know what your pace is because you have been training for this race. Get somewhere in the pack where you feel you will best fit. If you are a 10-minute miler, move toward the middle or even further back. You are less likely to get trampled as the race begins. A seven-minute mile? Move closer to the front.

Listen for instructions. The director of the race is going to let you know where the mile marks are on the course, if there is water and where, and any special instructions you should be aware of. Once they are complete, your race is about to begin.

Countdown. 1 … 2 … 3 … Runners ready?

The bullhorn sounds and everyone takes off around you. Keep your pace. You have 3 miles to go. But push yourself as well. Pick someone ahead of you that is going at a decent clip. Tell yourself you will pass them. Then, slowly make your way forward. Pass on the outside.

You get to a water stop but you are feeling pretty good. It’s not too hot out and you don’t feel you need water. So, run toward the middle of the course so you can keep going and avoid bumping into others who want a drink.

Good job! You reached mile 3. You can see the finish line ahead of you. Take that last burst of energy and sprint toward the finish. But there are people standing there and they are pointing in different directions. If you have headphones in, TAKE THEM OUT. You want to be able to hear the instructions as you come across. They are telling you to move toward the left and go through the line on the left. You sprint in and catch a glimpse of the clock. Great time!

Making your way down the chute slowly, you walk to catch your breath, making sure not to pass the person in front of you in the chute. You are finally done. The volunteers at the end of the chute take the bottom part of your race number off and collect it. You officially placed in your first 5K.

Part 1: Registration
Part 2: Packet Pick-up
Part 3: Race Morning
Part 5: Post Race

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