What to Expect AT Your First 5K
March 14, 2023
Perhaps, you set a goal at the beginning of the year to run a race. Now, that daylights savings has kicked in and Spring is around the corner, you've got eyes on your first race.
You've put in the work and training, marked the date, and are ready for your first 5K. Or are you? Knowing what to expect on race day is important to have a successful and fun race. Here are some things you need to consider.
What to Wear
You should already have a pair of high-quality running shoes that fit your feet well. When deciding what to wear, take into account the likely weather.
Wear a supportive sports bra or compression shorts, depending on which you need. Jiggling up front or down below can be distracting during a race. Wear moisture-wicking socks to reduce your risk of blisters.
If it is summer, choose lightweight fabrics that wick sweat well. If it is cooler, dress in layers you can easily remove without breaking stride. A long-sleeved t-shirt that wicks well is perfect. Wear sunglasses and a running cap to protect you from glare.
Choose clothing that suits your personal style in terms of colors. You are there to have fun.
One absolute rule: Nothing new on race day. This particularly goes for shoes, but break in all of your clothing. Oh, and that includes the free race T-shirt you might have got. They're not meant for running in, but for posing afterwards.
What to Bring
First of all, bring a good water bottle or hydration system. Don't be afraid to use the water stations too, it's what they are there for. Fill your water bottle right before you start, if you drink before the start, top it up. The longer it lasts, the fewer times you will have to slow down at water stations.
Bring sunscreen and use it. Even if it's a cloudy day. Some people like to wear a GPS watch so they can track exactly where they are on the course.
Bring some kind of nutrition product or snack to keep your energy up.
Finally, pack a spare set of clothes and leave them at the gear check. That way you can change after the race into something less sweaty and aren't having to drive home in your running clothes. (That is the perfect time to wear the race t-shirt).
Another thing you might want to bring is your friends! Having some cheerleaders standing near the finish line can help you push to the end.
What to Expect
Some more tips and expectations:
- Get there early. Allow plenty of time to pick up your bib and race packet and also to stretch and warm up before the race. Be prepared to adjust clothing if the temperature seems different from what you thought. A slow jog of about 5 to 10 minutes is a good warm up, plan to start about 15 minutes before the start. Also make sure you have time to use the bathroom. Don't forget that every other runner is wanting to use it too.
- Pin your bib on properly. There should be safety pins in the bib pick-up area. Your bib should be pinned in all four corners to the front of your shirt. Make sure it is readable, especially if you want to buy official race photos. Some bibs have a timing device on them...make sure this is not bent or covered with clothing.
- Eat breakfast, no matter how early the start or how many butterflies your stomach might have in them. Aim to eat about sixty minutes before race start. Don't experiment with new foods either for breakfast or the night before and avoid anything you know might cause gastrointestinal distress. Consider bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter, fruit, energy bars, cold cereal with milk, etc.
- Don't start too fast. A common novice runner mistake is to go too fast at the start and run out of energy at the end.
- Don't expect to win. Compete only with yourself!
Running a 5K is a great experience, but you need to do the right things on race day to make things as much fun as possible.