6 things you should know before running your first race

You’ve put in the work, marked your calendar, and now you’re well on your way to running your first-ever race – and we’ve got some tips to get you all the way there.

1. Get to know the course.

Check out all course maps and information online to get to know the route ahead of time. Is it hilly? Rocky? Get as much information as possible beforehand and incorporate these variables into your training. If you’re running locally, consider doing a couple training runs on parts of the course early on.

2. Consider logistics.

You don’t want to be scrambling around race morning. Create a checklist of everything you need on race day – your race bib, gear, etc. – and have a plan on how to get to the Start Line on time. If you’re planning on using package pickup, gear check, the washrooms, or any other runner services, be sure to get there at least 30-60 minutes early to avoid crazy line-ups! Find your way to your corral early and give yourself time to mentally prepare before the countdown starts.

Related article: 7 race day tips for a successful marathon

3. Don’t overdress.

You’re going to warm up once you start running. Many experienced runners suggest dressing 6-8ºC warmer than it actually is. If it’s cold on race morning, bring an extra layer and consider using the gear check service. Bring an extra layer if needed and utilise the gear check service. Another option is to throw on an old sweatshirt and discard it at the Start Line before the race starts. Most races will donate all discarded clothing to charity.

4. Pacing is Key.

It’s easy to get carried away among the race day excitement, but remember – pacing is key. Take a deep breath and stick to your race plan. Try to position yourself around runners with a similar pace and consider running with a pace group or using a fitness watch. It’s okay to start out slow and build-up from there – you don’t want to burn out halfway there!

Related article: 6 tips for running your first Marathon

5. Train with the provided fuel – or bring your own on race day.

Most races will have several aid stations on course with volunteers handing out water, electrolytes, and energy gels or bars. Find out ahead of time what products will be provided, and try them out during your training. You don’t want to go into a race and discover certain products don’t agree with you! Don’t forget you also have the option to bring your own fuel. Many runners prefer to carry a hydration belt while they run or have a family member or friend on course to pass them their own products.

6. Stick to what you know.

Come race morning, stick to what works. Race Day is not the time to break out a new pair of running shoes – make sure you’ve worn them for at least two weeks before the race. And this goes for gear, food, and everything else. Don’t stray from your race plan and trust your training. You don’t want any unexpected surprises on Race Day!

Vancouver is home to many road races, ranging from 5Ks to Half Marathons, as well as the world-class BMO Vancouver Marathon in May. Keep these few tips in mind and you’ll be sure to have a great first race experience!

Check out: Vancouver’s top running races organized by local non-profit RUNVAN®