By Kristen Wolfe Bieler
Even if you’re an absolute beginner running your first race, you can look – and run – like a road-racing veteran by avoiding these three common newbie mistakes which many of us so-called experts also made. Try these three simple, quick fixes and never look back.
“Most first-time racers go out too fast and are miserable by the second or third kay,” says women’s running coach Jane Serues. Even veteran runners get caught up in the race-day enthusiasm – and other faster racers.
Easy Fix: “Start out at a comfortable pace,” says Serues, “a pace where you’re not killing yourself and can still converse with deep breaths in between sentences. No huffing and puffing.”
Then try to run each kay just a little bit faster, so that your last kay is the fastest. “A strong finish leaves a better taste in your mouth than a great first kay with a cross-eyed finish,” says coach Chris Carmichael.
RW columnist Jeff Galloway says many first-timers eat too much before a race, particularly the night before. Carmichael agrees. “You don’t need to carbo-load for a 10-K,” he says. Most people have enough stored energy in their bodies to run a 10-K without taking in any additional kilojoules.
Easy Fix: “Eat less than normal before the race,” says Serues. Try small meals the day before, and something as simple as a banana and a glass of skim milk on race morning. “The key is choosing something easy to digest,” says Serues. “Not ham and eggs, which your body has to work hard to break down.”
Your body needs to warm up properly before it can run well at the higher intensity required to race a 10-K. And a post-race cool-down helps you recover more quickly so that you’ll feel better the day after the race.
Easy Fix: Include a 15-minute warm-up before the race, and a 15-minute cool-down afterward, says Carmichael. For both, mix walking and jogging to help ease into and out of your race pace.