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10 Tips For Planning Your Own Race

turkey trotPlanning my own race became a necessity when I lived in a place where women were banned from long distance street races. There are more and more female runners in Djibouti though they tend to be expatriates, and they only run in one race a year, a race sponsored by the French military. There are races sponsored by the US military, but as a non-diplomat and non-soldier, I rarely hear about them on time and might not be able to gain access to the restricted areas anyway.

At first I found this frustrating and limited, but I’ve come to appreciate what running alone requires and what it contributes to my life. It requires a boldness I don’t normally associate with my timid, introverted self. It contributes an inner strength and confidence.

I ran my own half-marathon a year ago and am currently training for my own 5k, attempting to shave three minutes off my PR (personal record) and run 24:15.

Here are ten tips for planning your own race that I learned during last year’s half marathon.

  • Plan Your Own Race 1 of 11
    run your own race
  • Enlist Support 2 of 11
    enlist-support1

    For safety, accountability, and motivation you will need support. Make sure someone knows where you are and when to expect you back. It is too easy to slouch on your own race, even to skip it. Tell someone your plan and your goal. Ask them to inquire about your training and about race day.

  • Take it Seriously 3 of 11
    serious-runner

    Just because you are the only runner doesn't mean it isn't a serious race. Don't be embarrassed to tell people about it or to go all out.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Map It Out 4 of 11
    map-it-out

    No one is going to mark the course for you, so you need to know how long it is and where to turn and when to turn back, if it is an out and back course. Try to get as accurate a measurement as possible and then choose to believe it is dead-on.

    *image via pixabay

  • Hydrate 5 of 11
    hydration

    There won't be crowded water stops to trip you up during this race but that also means there won't be water. Carry what you need or stash bottles ahead of time. Plan your route to go by trash bins so you avoid littering. No race volunteers will be around to clean up your mess.

    *image via Flickr

  • Plan Your Carbs 6 of 11
    bananas

    Unless you bring it or have a friend waiting for you at designated spots, there will be no GU packets or platters of sliced bananas. Know what your body needs and pin packets to the inside of your shorts or slip them into the pockets on your hydration pack. I like to tuck halved bananas into my fuel belt.

    *image via Wikimedia

  • Run With Purpose 7 of 11
    run-with-purpose1

    Are you running your own race because women aren't welcome? Because race costs have skyrocketed? Because you live far from races? Because you enjoy the peace and quiet but want to run fast?

  • Make a Bib 8 of 11
    race-bib

    Instead of a number, write in big black marker why you are racing. I once ran with "Djibouti" pinned to my back (I just wanted to hear people try to pronounce it) and I know a woman who ran in Djibouti with the puffy painted message: Women Can Run Too.

    *image via Flickr

  • Run Hard 9 of 11
    run-all-out

    Race it. Push. You are your only competitor. Either you win or lose. There is no middle of the pack finish to hide behind. There is no runner pounding at your heels to make you push. There is no runner up ahead you can fight to reel in. Dig deep and discover your own strength. Draw it out and lay it down on the pavement. All out. 

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Reward Yourself 10 of 11
    reward-yourself

    Tell people about your PR or that you raced and enjoy their congratulations. Or their strange looks, they mean you are fit and strong and creative. Treat yourself to a massage or a gigantic chocolate banana smoothie. Go to a movie (stretch while you sit), sleep late for a week while your body recovers.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Thank Your Team 11 of 11
    support-team1

    Thank the wonderful people who helped you and cheered you on (or slept through the race but believed in you through their dreams). Then start planning your next race.

(If you plan on trying your own or if you have in the past, I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.)

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