Race season is coming up in many parts of the country, not just in US but in India too. How exciting!! This blog is dedicated to many of my Indian friends who are running Airtel half marathon in Delhi for the first time. Unfortunately, I missed the train due to other commitments and little ignorance :(. However, I can at least contribute by sharing some useful information from my own running experience over the years. If you are a new runner or are entering your first race, your head is probably filled with questions and anticipation about what to expect on race day. Here are a few tips to help ease your anxiety:
Do not try anything new on the day of the race. This includes clothes, shoes, food etc. If you decide to buy a new pair of shoes, make sure you have worn them two weeks prior to the race. If you’ve bought yourself new clothes especially the shorts, make sure you've done at least one test-run in them prior to the race. You do not want any surprises chafing up.
Arrange all of your clothing and gear the night before the race. Attach the bib to your shirt. Make sure your iPod is charged if you plan to use one to listen to music during the race. Laying everything out the night before helps to ensure that you have everything you need and do not forget an important item that you might skip over in the middle of any pre-race anxiety.
Try to get there early. This gives you time to settle down, mix up with the crowd and gets pumped up for the race of your life.
Do not overdress. A good rule is to dress as if the weather is 9-10 degree C warmer than it actually is. That is how much you will warm up once you start running. You can always dress in layers but get rid of extra clothes before you start running. If it is very cold then you may consider covering your ears and use hand gloves that will help you retain the body heat for a long time. You will run more comfortably.
Light warm-up prior to the race. A good warm-up would be walking or light jogging for five minutes and possibly some very light stretching. You should never stretch cold muscles, so if you do stretch, make sure you have warmed your muscles with walking or jogging first.
Line up with runners of similar ability. Find the part of the pack that runs your pace. For half marathon, don’t feel shy if you plan to walk few miles. You will find many others following the same mantra. The goal is to finish the race not injure yourself.
Start slowly. Don’t get super thrilled because it is very easy to get swept up in the excitement and head out too fast, only to get exhausted way before the finish line.
When I did my first half marathon, I learnt that one should be prepared to play mental games and trust in your training. Something like - “Oh I only have ‘X’ miles left — I can definitely do that!” Or “Partying tonight would be fun with friends after the race”. Trust me; your first half marathon will be unlike anyone else’s. The culmination of your struggles and your triumphs will be uniquely yours on race day. You will feel the blood rushing through your veins when you see thousand energetic and happy faces running with you. I can bet that you will have an excellent first race and feel emotionally exuberant throughout each mile. And above all – the awesome feeling of accomplishment after finishing the race will become the most cherished moment of your life.
Have fun! After all, what is the point of races if you do not enjoy yourself?