Runners World Articles: Archives - June 2001
Race Basics: Here's our step-by-step guide to
Many runners love their sport for its sheer simplicity: Put on
a pair of running shoes, then put one foot in front of the other.
No entry fee, no stress. Just you and the road. Who needs racing?
Well, possibly, you. If you've never raced before, or if it's been
a long time since you've toed the line, here's what's in it for
you, and how to get started.
Racing offers countless benefits, including these four major ones:
Races boost motivation. Your motivation will likely increase
as soon as you fill out the entry form and mark the date on your
calendar. Heading out ofr your daily run will suddenly become easier.
Races serve a social function. Running together inspires
almost everyone to share experiences or thought. I know of many
friendships that started during road races. And there's no better
place to meet a new training partner.
Races make you feel good. Even if you run easily for the
whole race, when you cross the finish line, you'll feel a sense
of pride and accomplishment greater than you can achieve from a
Races are speedwork in disguise. The pull of the crowd at
races will help you run faster, and you won't even realize it. By
racing regularly, you'll improve your running form, because the
faster pace forces your body to move more efficiently.
Next, you need to decide which race distance is right for you:
5- (3.1 miles): This is a great entry-level racing distance.
Your time on the course is relatively short, and you'll recover
fast. You might feel some muscle soreness for a few days after the
race, but that should be all. Even on hot days, you'll be fine if
you drink plenty of fluids beforehand. To prepare to race this distance,
you should complete at least one 3-mile run a week or two before
10-K 6.2 miles): This distance is more challenging than
a 5-K, but certainly worth the extra effort. You'll likely feel
the effects of heat and humidity when racing a 10-K, and you'll
need to rest or run gently for several days after the race. To prepare
for this event, complete a 5- to 7-mile run about 10 to 14 days
before race day. In a 10-K, most beginning racers benefit from walking
1 minute every 3 to 8 minutes, until the last mile.
Half-marathon (13.1 miles): This distance is a great introduction
to marathoning. Your long training runs-done every other weekend-should
build to between 10 and 14 miles. I recommend that first-timers
walk 1 minute every 3 to 8 minutes, until the last 3 miles.
How to Enter
Entering a race is as simple as 1-2-3:
1. Find a good race calendar at your local running store,
in Runneršs World, or on our Web site at www.runnersworld.com/calendar/home.html.
Liik for a race in your area that easily fits into your schedule.
2. Request an entry form by calling, writing, or e-mailing
the contact listed. These days, therešs a good chance you can register
3. Fill out your entry form carefully and mail it with your
entry fee. Race organizers usually donšt acknowledge receipt of
entries, so keep a copy. That way youšll also have the directions
to the race location and instructions for picking up your race number.
Follow these tips to help you arrive at the starting line ready
for a great race:
Arrive an hour before the race starts (or even earlier if
you havenšt been to that location before).
Check in and pick up your race number, and pin it to the
front of your shirt.
Stash your belongings (athletic bag, etc) when you arrive.
Some races donšt provide a bag-check service, so you have to lock
your gear in your car. (Donšt lock your key inside like I have!)
Warm up by walking 5 minutes, jogging 5 minutes, and stretching
Position yourself at the back of the pack behind the starting
line. This will keep you from starting too fast.
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