Races are a lot of fun. They are a great way to gauge the improvements you’ve made to your fitness level, stay in shape, and get excited about working out. However, before signing up for a race, there are a couple things you should know and prepare for.
First and foremost, when you sign up for a race, you should have a clear idea of what your goal is. What are you trying to accomplish? Is your goal simply to finish the race without stopping? Are you in it to win it? Do you want to attain a personal best? Or are you just trying to have fun with your friends?
Having a clear goal in mind will direct your path as you prepare and train for the upcoming race.
Now that you have a goal in mind, pick a date for your race. There are all sorts of races going on all the time, you just have to search for them! It’s important to set yourself up for success. You can’t just sign up for a race and go race the next weekend. You need time to prepare your body. If you aren’t used to running 3 miles at once, you have no business shocking your body with that out of nowhere! That’s how you get injured, sore, and discouraged. So, sign up for your race in advance to give yourself adequate preparation time.
We have a race date, now we train. How you train will depend squarely on the goal you set for yourself. If you just want to finish the race without stopping, slowly start adding some running into your workout routine. Pace yourself on a trail run and see how long just one mile takes you to complete. Be prepared to run that time 3 times on race day. Begin training by running a few minutes every other day and slowly work up to continuous bouts of 15, 20, and 30 minutes of running without stopping. Similarly, if your goal is to attain a personal best, you should be upping the intensity of your runs and incorporating speed work into your running routine. For all racers, make sure to incorporate stretching and proper nutrition into your daily life to avoid injury and stay fueled. If you need help or have questions on what you specifically should do, comment here!
Right before the race, we rest and we fuel. A few days before your race, don’t try to run your hardest or over-do it. Take a break. Go easy on yourself in the days leading up to your race. Make sure to fuel your muscles the day and night before race day to ensure you’ll have enough energy to do your best. Eating sources of carbohydrates the night before or the morning of your race is probably a good idea! Make sure to get a good night of rest as well so you’re ready to go in the morning.
On race day, eat a good breakfast and arrive early to the site so you can check in. Make sure you warm up your muscles and stretch them out so you can literally hit the ground running at the starting line. Keep your goal in mind as you run and don’t give up on it! The only competitor that matters when you run is yourself, so don’t compare yourself or get discouraged. Just focus on you and your goals. Have fun and be proud of what you were able to accomplish!