The races have started in Toronto. (And most other places too!) Many people will be running their first race for charity. People run in these races for a variety of reasons like raising money for a cause, testing out the success of their personal running program and of course, just for fun!
When you are new, it's hard to know what to expect. Here are some tips that I picked up from running in organized races
Day Before Race Day
Do not run. The run after your day off (or two) you are rested and ready to pound the pavement. You run further and faster.
Prepare nutritionally the day before by eating extra carbs. A big plate of whole grain pasta works nicely. Loading up on carbs helps to store ample amounts of carbohydrates in your muscles, liver and bloodstream to help prevent heavy tired muscles, poor performance and fatigue.
Prepare everything you need. Charge up your music player, lay out your clothes, put your race number on top of it and put your forms and pledges near the front door. Races are usually early in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday. If you happen to sleep in, or get slowed down you will want to be organized and ready to head out in a hurry.
Day Of The Big Race
EAT! It's important! Even if you are too nervous to eat, do it anyway. Eating something light and nutritious is your best bet. I recommend an egg white oatmeal omelet with blueberries! Wash it down with some water and you'll be pumped!
Get there early. I suggest 30 minutes +. There are crowds, lines and everybody is trying to do the exact same thing you are. You will have to sign in, hand in your pledges, pick up your prizes and time chip and check your bags.
Warm up. After you have gone through registration everybody heads to the start line. Perform dynamic stretches and loosen up by little jogs and sprints.
Get in line according to your level. A mistake I made in my first race was I went to the back because I was new and did not want to get in the way. By the time I made it past the start line the official race time had started 6 minutes ago and my personal time (on my chip) was way faster than the official time! However on the flip side of things, if you go right to the start line you will be surrounded by the professionals. Not only will you get in their way but you will run a lot faster than you normally would to keep up and then burn out pretty quickly.
As an extension of the last point pace yourself. Adrenaline is up and you will be excited. Do not start out sprinting. Start your race like you would any run. Start slow and warm up for about 5 minutes. Then pick up the pace and run at a brisk tempo within your skill and limits.
There are drink stands along the way with water or Gatorade. Hydrate when necessary.
Be courteous to fellow runners. Allow the faster runners to pass you. Do not follow too close behind anyone and do not swerve all over the course.
When You Finish
Get away from the finish line so runners behind you can have their moment of glory.
Stretch and cool down.
There is a food table. Grab a banana or a muffin to replenish energy.
Your bags will be waiting for you across the finish line. Grab your bags, hand in your race chip and get changed. You are probably pretty sweaty by this point!
Result times will start to get posted. Wait around to see how well you did.
Later That Day
To prevent your legs and butt from being incredibly sore the next day sit in a bath filled with cool water.
CELEBRATE! You earned it!