COMPETE TIPS

by Jamie Riddle

What to know ahead of your next race

Race days are always a bit nerve-wracking. You focus on training, goal-setting, and perfecting everything from eating the right fuel to wearing the correct shoes, but when show time arrives, the stakes are high—especially if it’s your first time racing.

Stop stressing. Runners tend to be a competitive bunch, and we sometimes get carried away with setting goals for how fast we want to run, where we want to place, and who we want to beat in the race. But it’s important to remember that 5Ks and 10Ks are hugely positive community events. You get to spend a morning challenging yourself with strangers cheering you on. If you’re afraid you’ll finish last (we’ve all thought it), remember that a wide range of people with varying levels of fitness race, and many people just go to walk them from start to finish.

Know the course. If you can, run the race course (or drive or bike it) so you can get familiar with where you’ll need to push and where you can cruise; if you’re traveling to the race and don’t have time to scope it out beforehand, you can study the course map online. Make sure to locate the race start early to eliminate the risk of getting lost on race morning.

Eat what you’re familiar with. The week before racing isn’t the best time to try new cuisines and fueling strategies. Instead, eat whatever has worked best for you (read: hasn’t upset your stomach) during your regular weekday runs.