Top 10 tips for your first 10km race

You have put in the training and now it’s time to reap the rewards with a 10km race

Mary Jennings: ‘Don’t compare yourself with other runners. You are running your own race. Your target is to reach your goal, not theirs. Photograph: Eric Luke

Mary Jennings: ‘Don’t compare yourself with other runners. You are running your own race. Your target is to reach your goal, not theirs. Photograph: Eric Luke

Fri, May 23, 2014, 11:00

Your first 10km race is a big deal. It is important that you enjoy it, and appreciate what an achievement it is. Here are my top 10 tips for preparing for your first 10km run.

1. Be prepared: pack the night before Make a list of everything you need to bring, and set out everything you need the night before the race. Avoid any last-minute panics by being prepared, so you don’t have to think on race morning.
Here is a quick list of essentials: running shoes; socks; sports bra; underwear; watch; sun cream; change of clothes for afterwards; €20 for emergencies; mobile phone; inhaler (if required); hairclips; iPod (charged); hat (optional); water bottle; extra throwaway layer (for warm-up); black sack (as a throwaway rainproof for warm-up); race number and safety pins, or registration confirmation letter; race chip (if you got it by post); and blister plasters (just in case).

2. Dress for the occasion Wear whatever clothes you would normally wear when running. Don’t try anything new on the day, or you might suffer from chaffing, blisters, and so on. If the weather is cool, I recommend you bring an old jumper or fleece that you can wear and throw away at the start line. Also, if it is raining, bring a large black sack that you can wear over your body to avoid getting soaked. Once again, remove it just at the start.

3. Arrive early Give yourself plenty of time to prepare for the race. I recommend you arrive an hour before the start time. This gives you plenty of time to collect your race number, have toilet stops, do warm-ups and soak up the atmosphere. The last thing you want is to tire yourself out racing to the start line.

4. Plan your food and d
rink Have your normal breakfast at least two hours before the race. Most are run in the morning. Eat lightly on the morning of the race. You won’t be hungry when running, I promise. In the two days before your race, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water and eat good healthy food. For a 10km, if you are well hydrated in the days leading up to the race, you should not need to drink lots of water on race morning. If you drink too close to the race, you will spend the warm-up time queuing for smelly portaloos. Avoid drinking and eating in the hour before the race starts.Good raceday breakfasts are porridge, or cereal with milk, or toast with a banana. Avoid too much caffeine on race morning too, as it may have you running to the toilet. Bring a bottle of water with you to the race, just in case. You can always drink it afterwards. 

5. Don’t panic There will always be people who are faster or stronger than you, or who look more athletic than you. Don’t compare yourself with them. You are running your own race. Your target is to reach your goal, not theirs. You have no idea how long they have been running. Take deep breaths, relax, enjoy the start-line atmosphere and keep calm. You are well prepared.

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