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12 Things Every First-time Racer Should Know

You’ve been running religiously, getting your miles in and maybe even clocking your time, wondering how fast you can actually run. But even though you are as ready to run as you’ve ever been, you are a little nervous about the race part of the day. What’s it like to line up with hundreds or even thousands of your fellow runners? What if you mess up? Or do something wrong?

No worries. Not only are runners among the nicest of crowds to . . . ahem, run with, they’re also always happy to see newbies join their ranks. You’ll likely find dozens of runners willing to help you calm your nerves and offer words of encouragement. But in case you’d still like some pointers on how to handle that first race, here are 12 race tips to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

  • 12 Race Day Tips 1 of 13
    Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 5.47.09 PM

    Calm your race-day nerves by following these tips.

  • Don’t Wear Anything New 2 of 13
    newclothes

    New clothes or shoes could rub you the wrong way. Stick with stuff that has been tried and tested. If you want to wear something new, be sure to take it on a test run or two to make sure it fits right and doesn't rub wrong.

  • Don’t Eat Anything New 3 of 13
    newfood

    Always have a granola bar before you run? Then don't eat a bowl of raisin bran on race day! New foods could upset your stomach and have you running for the restroom instead of the finish line.

  • Don’t Forget Your Anti-Chafe Cream 4 of 13
    bodygliding

    Even your "safest" clothes could get a little scratchy if you're running many miles. Keep things comfortable by slathering anti-chafe cream on your feet and where clothes meet skin.

  • Go To The Porta-Potties Early and Often 5 of 13
    potties

    Lines for the toilet are always long, so get in one as quick as you can, and don't be ashamed to get right back in line once you're done the last thing you want is a race course emergency!

  • Write Your Name On Your Shirt For An Extra Boost 6 of 13
    nameonshirt

    Having people, even strangers, cheer you by name can give you an amazing boost of energy and confidence. If you're feeling uncertain about yourself, put your name on your shirt so spectators can call you out.

  • Don’t Wear Too Much 7 of 13
    toomuch

    Think 60 degrees sounds cold? It won't once you get running. As a general rule, wear less than you think you need. Many races have a bag drop so you can stay warm at the start line, then strip down to your race clothes and pick your clothes up at the finish.

  • Wear Sunscreen 8 of 13
    sunscreen

    Even on cloudy days, the sun can get to you and sap your energy. Protect yourself! Your muscles will be sore enough, don't add to the pain with burnt skin!

  • Don’t Line Up In Front 9 of 13
    startline

    As a newbie, it's tempting to want to get to the front so you can get started as soon as you can, but unless you know you're a speed demon, you'll only get in the way of faster runners.

  • Don’t Go Out Too Fast 10 of 13
    d4d_finish

    Race day adrenaline will push you fast early on, but try to slow down and save the speed for later in the race. You're less likely to burnout at the end if you leave something in the tank. 

  • Don’t Take It Too Seriously 11 of 13
    whitekenyan

    Yes, you've trained hard and you want to do well. Now it's time to let loose and have a little fun. Your first race especially should be all about having a good time. 

  • Say Thanks To The Race Staff and Course Patrol 12 of 13
    givethanks

    Noticing all those people there to help you, hand you water, and keep you safe will get you out of your head if you're having a hard time. Telling them that you appreciate them will put a smile on both your faces. 

  • Don’t Be Surprised If You Surprise Yourself 13 of 13
    20weekslady-560x409

    You may not think of yourself as a runner, you may not think you are very fast, but on race day, everyone is. You may run faster than you thought, you may enjoy it more than you expected, and you may just want to do it again.

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