I have to say with only 4 years in, “I still feel like a novice to this running game.” My first official race was the Army 10-Miler in 2014. Here are the top 6 things I have learned making each race more enjoyable as I cross every finish line.
- Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate! I cannot stress this enough. This process should start the week prior to a race. Your muscles will thank you for this at the end. Water will assist in less muscle cramping while running longer distances. I made the mistake of trying to drink all my water the day of during the race in 2014. This left me feeling bloated and full the entire time which slowed me down. Trust me, it was NOT a good feeling. I tend to lean more toward water consumption over performance drinks as the latter have too much sugar and sodium for me.
- You need to get to the race early but not necessarily to stand around waiting. The main issue is parking especially if Metro has decided to not open early. I find that I can go early enough to leisurely find a parking space. This will give me time to relax, stretch or just get my mind focused. It’s no fun going to a race in the early morning hours (especially in the fall or winter) only to have your muscles get cold. Can you say, “injury waiting to happen.”
- Early morning races as the sun is slowly rising means the temperature will be cold. You can wear something to stay warm and then toss it as you warm up. I am told most races donate that discarded clothing to homeless shelters. I like to apply this same idea to the end of race. I will call this 3.5. Each runner gets all kinds of goodies like snacks and water once you finished a run. The next time you get your goodie bag, give it to a homeless person as you are walking back to your car or metro.
- Waves are important but they really do not matter. Waves are the “groupings” the race coordinators put you in based on your projected finish time. Sometimes I think waves are formed based on how early you registered but I am not here to debate that process. I can confirm that every race I have been a part of has a person or two or 20 who all try move up close to the start line. Just be respectful as you are moving toward the front.
- Along the race, if you need to stop, move to the far right or left if you are not there already and put one arm up. This gives the runners right behind you notification to move over as you will be stopping or walking. The last thing any runner wants is to trip over you as you have stopped to walk or tie your shoe.
- Read the signs spectators have made. Strangers all along the way will be rooting for you. Laugh when you see one that is funny. Just have fun. It makes the race more enjoyable.