Planning A First Race
Usually after a person has been walking or running for a while, they start thinking about doing a race. Most cities have running and walking clubs that will organize races during the spring and summer. A good race to start with is the 5K, which is three and one tenth miles. This is a great distance for a first race, because it's long enough to be challenging, but should be well within the abilities of anyone with several months of walking or running experience behind them.
The first race can be a wonderful experience with just a little planning ahead of time. To start, find a good race. There are normally several to chose from, so look for one that has a reasonably flat course. A hilly race could be too challenging for a first event. A flat course is much more forgiving. Read over the requirements for the race. Some will have a cut off time, which may be faster than a beginning walker or even a newer runner can achieve. I like to find races which are somewhat challenging, but also in interesting locations. Traveling to a new city for a race can be a mini vacation as well.
Pacing becomes more important during a race than in training. A mistake made by many is starting too fast, then not having the energy left for the remainder of the race. Pacing can be practiced in training. After a good warm up of slow walking or running, start off with the pace desired for race day. Should the pace feel to difficult, back off some. Go slower for a while, then speed back up slowly to the planned pace. The pace should feel better after the short break, but it can take several speed adjustments to get into race pace. The treadmill is a great place to practice pacing, since it's easy to monitor and change speed.
Never race in new shoes, unless it's the same brand and model trained in. Race only in clothes which have been tested in training as well A blister or a chaffing rash can turn a wonderful experience into an ordeal. It's a good idea to find out what sports drink they will be providing at the event, and try them during training. At many of the larger races, there will be venders selling special pre race drinks to increase performance. Stay clear of those, since they may not set well on the stomach. When in doubt, plain water is all we really need before during and after a 5K race. Electra Lyte replacement drinks and tablets are more important for longer races, such as the half and full marathons.
Keep it fun, since most participants are there to achieve a personal best, not to compete for the win. Show up at least thirty minutes prior to start time, pin that race number to the front of the shirt, warm up, and the race will go just fine.
It's not just a step, it's a start.