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Tips For Running Your First 5K — Part 5

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 5: Post Race

Enjoy yourself. You have accomplished a wonderful feat in completing your first 5K. It took a lot of work, but you made it to the finish line. And whether you made it in the time you wanted or not, you still ran 3.1 miles and competed. There is always room for improvement.

Get some water and a banana. (It will help with the cramping.) Check for race results on the event Web site, most likely the next day. But if you can, hang around the post-race party. It is always a good opportunity to meet some people who could become your running buddies one day.

Heck, join a running group and really make some friends before you compete in your next 5K. You won’t have to go to these events alone; plus, you will have encouragement along with you on the next course.

Now that you have a base, you saw how a 5K feels and you are comfortable with your pace, you can begin pushing the limits. Set some goals for yourself to improve your time or reach for longer distances to compete in larger events. 5Ks might be just the tip of the iceberg for you.

Running groups are a big way to get involved in the running community, meet new people and test yourself. But if you prefer to run alone, start incorporating cross-training, weightlifting and other types of workouts that can build your strength and improve your running.

But most importantly, make it fun. You know why the line from Office Space, “Somebody looks like they have a case of the Mondays” became so memorable? Because it’s true. No one likes to go to work. And you probably won’t like running anymore if it feels like work. Switch your routine up, run with friends, incorporate some bike riding, swimming or trail running to make your workouts more interesting.

But whatever you do, keep running friends!

Part 1: Registration
Part 2: Packet Pick-up
Part 3: Race Morning
Part 4: Running The Race

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

Tips For Running Your First 5K — Part 3

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 3: Race Morning

You have registered for the race. You have picked up your packet. You seem all set to go for the 5K. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind before you even leave the house for the race.

DON’T change your normal routine on race day. Treat it as any other running day. Eat the same foods you would normally eat before a run and drink the same amount of fluids. You are bound to run a better time if your body is acclimated to the routine. Your body doesn’t think today is any different.

DON’T run with new shoes for the same reasons. Breaking in new shoes is not a good idea to do on race day.

DO remember your race number before you leave the house. Getting a new number is simply a hassle you won’t have to worry about if you make sure to bring it with you on race day.

DON’T tear off the bottom part of your bib. Some bibs may not have this piece, but if it does, leave it on. This is used for timing and scoring purposes and needs to be on the bib. If not, at least on your person at the finish.

DO give yourself enough time in the morning so you aren’t rushing. If you have already picked up your race materials, you won’t need to do anything once you get to the race site, but you don’t want to drive up, hop out of your car and run to the start. Give yourself a nice cushion.

DO be aware of road closures due to the race which may impede your normal driving route as well as where to park. Always have alternatives in mind. Large volumes at some of these events can cause a overflow, which may force you to make quick changes in plans.

If you haven’t picked up your race packet or you haven’t registered, certainly leave enough time to not only register but run back to your car if you don’t want to run with a T-shirt or other materials they give you. Remember, most organizations do not do credit card, so be sure to have cash or a checkbook with you for payment.

Does anyone have any other dos and don’ts for race morning? Please feel free to leave comments in the box below or contact me through e-mail or Twitter.

Part 1: Registration
Part 2: Packet Pick-up
Part 4: Running The Race
Part 5: Post Race

Tips For Running Your First 5K — Part 2

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 2: Packet Pick-up

It is always smart to attend a packet pick-up session for a race if one is available. Most dates, times and locations are listed where the rest of the race information is.

Picking up a packet before race day is smart because it is less congested and chaotic. Picking up your packet early means there is nothing to do on race day besides show up.

A race number is always included because this is how participants are tracked during the race. The race number is associated with all of the participant information. In addition to being vital in timing and scoring, it is also essential information were a participant injured or in serious need of medical attention. A quick search of a race number pulls up contact information, addresses, etc.

Another item usually included is a T-shirt. Another advantage of picking up packets early is a greater guarantee a T-shirt in your size will be available.

When approaching the table or tent to pick up your packet, there is typically a list to refer to in finding your race number. Find your name and the race number associated with your name. Be cautious because your age may also be on the list. Do not confuse your age with your race number.

If picking up for multiple participants or a team, have a piece of paper and a pen handy. The organization putting on the packet pick-up may have some available, but if not, you will be prepared to jot down the numbers and lessen the time spent waiting to go through each individual number.

Also when picking up for multiple participants, be sure to bring a letter of consent from the person you are picking up for. Some organizations do not require this, but it is always good to have just in case. A simple email of permission would suffice with the person’s name on it.

Most of the time, confirmations of registration are not required either, but again, always good to have if for some reason your name didn’t make the list, or the organization does not have your registration recorded.

Part 1: Registration
Part 3: Race Morning
Part 4: Running The Race
Part 5: Post Race

Tips For Running Your First 5K — Part 1

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 1: Registration

The Internet makes registering for races easy. The prompts ask all the necessary questions the organizing party needs answered and allows for payment directly online.

But first, how do you find a race? Active.com lists a variety of different events in every state. The only problem with such a copious list is it can be difficult to navigate. For local readers, Charm City Run offers a list of races they manage on their Web site, and other event management companies are sure to do the same.

However, if you have a specific organization in mind to support, go to their Web site where information is likely posted if they are putting on a 5K and when.

Once a 5K was been settled upon, there are multiple ways to register. Printable forms are usually available to print and mail in. If you choose this option, be mindful of when you mail it in. If payment amounts change after a certain date, be sure to postmark your registration before that day.

Also, be sure not to send a registration by mail less than a week in advance of the event. Much is done in preparation for the event the week before and the risk is greater registration will not get there in time, causing unnecessary problems, and most likely additional work for you, on race day.

Online registration again is easiest, but for all types of registration be sure to answer all the questions. They would not be asked if they weren’t important. The most important questions no matter what the event are name, age and gender. These answers place you into necessary categories for timing and scoring. Even if you aren’t concerned about your time, they are still important for the race management company in tracking you and your place at the finish.

Race-day registration is typically available as well. Forms will be available at the race to fill out and turn in at the registration table. Checks and cash are usually the only form of payment accepted; credit cards are rarely accepted on race day.

Registrations usually include a T-shirt. This is another important reason to get a registration in early. Organizations place their order loosely based off how many registrants they have (coupled with other factors). Registering on race day lessens the chance of getting a T-shirt in the size you would like, sometimes even getting one at all.

Part 2: Packet Pick-up
Part 3: Race Morning
Part 4: Running The Race
Part 5: Post Race

Tips For Running Large Races

The running season, at least in Baltimore, kicks off this weekend with the Kelly St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K. Owned and operated by Charm City Run, it is the race management company’s largest race of the year and was capped this year at 4,500 participants.

Large races can be the most fun. With so many people, it is truly an event. For first-time runners, they can be a great introduction into the running community, and a chance to get a feel for what a longer distance event atmosphere feels like.

Though veterans know, these types of races can be the most difficult to compete in. Because of the high volume, it can be tight maneuvering through the crowds of runners and keeping pace when the road in front of you is blocked with participants.

Here are a few tips for running your best in a large race:

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