For the media

Running your first race

By The Health News Team | June 5, 2024
People running a marathon

You did it — you signed up for your first-ever race. Whether you are inspired to run a 5K, 10K or longer, Stewart Sanders, physical therapist and director of Sharp Rees-Stealy’s Running Clinic, shares these four tips to help you prepare to confidently run the distance.

  1. Have a plan.
    Before you hit the pavement, begin by creating a plan. Follow a weekly training program for the race length you'd like to run. You should also work on strengthening and flexibility exercises during training, which can help prevent injury. Additionally, it's important to get rest between running days and good sleep at night.

  2. Set goals.
    Make realistic goals for your race and training. Expect some muscle fatigue and soreness the day after a run. Any acute or sharp bouts of pain may be a sign or inflammation.

  3. Take it easy the week before the race.
    During race week, keep your running somewhat light to avoid tiring out your muscles as you approach the big day. Focus on being well-rested in the days leading up to the race and get a good night’s sleep for at least two nights before race day.

  4. Stay focused on race day.
    Having jitters before a race is expected, so focus on ways to keep yourself calm and relaxed. On race day, eat something with high energy that is easily digestible. Plan to eat about 2 hours before the race. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the venue without stress. Lightly warm up about 20 to 25 minutes before the race. And after your race, gently stretch your muscles and replenish calories with carbohydrates and protein.

“Keep things positive,” says Sanders. “Training can be challenging, but enjoy the experience leading up to your first race.”

Sanders also encourages you to remember to breathe and let go of any comparisons to others on the racecourse. You are training to run the race that you want to run, he says.

"Capitalize on the post-race high and look to sign up for another race within a week or so," says Sanders. "Enjoy the process, and congratulations on your first race!”

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