First Race Tips For Newbie

Hi everyone, another newcomer here hoping to get some advice and tips to questions youve probably been asked thousands of times on here.

I've been running for about a year, normally only shorter distances (between 5k and10k). Ive finally plucked up the courage to enter my first race, the birmingham half marathon. Now with the race just under nine weeks away, im going to start to try train for this longer distance. As its my first race im worried that ill mess up my preperation or something on the day of the race.

So I was wanting to ask if anyone had any advice or tips of things that i should try to do on the day of the race or in my preparation for it.




  • Hi Andy - try out as much as possible before the day (e.g. socks, drinks, gels, clothing - especially anything that may cause chafferage....!!!)  Nothing more miserable than having done the mileage then ruining your experience on race day by some nasty suprise by your socks causing blisters or your choice of fluids etc making you feel ill image  Also, find out what works for you in the way of breakfast choice - you'll need something that enables you to run well and not need a No 2 break half way through! image

    Go steady on building up your mileage from now til race day - no more than 10% per week is recommended to prevent injuries.  I assume you're following a schedule with a good range of training (speed, strength, hills, distance)? Loads of stretching etc.

    On race day - start with PMA that you have done the training - take it easy for first couple of miles - if you are feeling ok pick the pace up a bit.  Above all - enjoy it! First race - is often the most memorable.

    Good Luck! image

  • Andy, I'd agree with the above on the whole...don't try anything new on the day and K.I.S.S. - keep it simple stupid...the less you have to worry about the better. I over-complicated my first race by thinking I needed lots of don't - trainers, race number, that's about it. Also if you feel that you'd be disappointed if you don't meet your target time then make sure you position yourself too near the back. In mass-participation you'll find poeple position themselves way ahead of their abilities and don't start too slow as you may get caught in the crowd. MOST important, don't forget to enjoy it! Good luck!
  • Thanks very much for the advice so far, iIts made me think about a few things that i wouldn’t have paid much attention to. With me usually only doing 5k or 10k runs, I don’t really take on any fluids when running and I am guessing it’s pretty vital when I’m doing longer runs. After my runs I normally would just drink some lucozade sport, is this ok or would you recommend any other types? I read that you should take on some fluids every 40mins running, is that about right?

    Also I manage to start up with my training schedule yesterday. I’m using the 10 week plan from the site but starting from the second week. The only thing that concerned me was that not once during the plan does it require running the half marathon distance, I had imagined you would cover that distance or even slightly above at least once?

  • Hi there - I'm no expert but I think it's pretty standard that plans don't get you to run the race distance whilst training.  You'll get near the distance and on the day itself you'll find you just do it!  The variety of the schedule (hills, different paces etc) will set you up in just the right way and if you follow the plan you will have done what's necessary to get round.

    Other little things to consider - safety pins!!!  Make sure you have some (and spares) for your race number.  Cut your toe nails at least a few days before - don't run with nails too long that they dig into next door toes, and don't cut them too close to the race that you cut them too much!! 

    But most of all, enjoy it, and GOOD LUCK!

  • Hi there, I'm no expert either but I agree you don't need to cover the full 13 miles before the race to be able to get out there and do it.  If you have the PMA, that, the adrenaline and crowd support will get you through the last bit that you haven't done before.   I have run 13.1 miles twice, both races.  Never run more than 10/11 in training.  Have found that if you are feeling relatively comfortable at ten the rest just doesn't seem that far.

    Also agree about taking it easy at the start - its very easy to get caught up in the excitement and start too quickly.  Advice I was given was:-

    If you think you've gone off a bit too fast, you've probably gone off a lot too fast.  If you think you've gone off about right, you've probably gone off a bit too fast.  If you think you've gone off a bit slow, you've probably got it about right.

    Good luck! image 

  • Oh, and I'm sure you'd never be this daft, but I didn't put my chip on my shoe until I got to the race - and then I was no nervous I couldn't thread it on and had to ask a random stranger to do it!  What a numpty...
  • I am entered into the Birmingham half and it was going to be my first race but I entered a 10k  a couple of weeks ago just to experience a race.

    You would be surprised how nervous you feel. I think there  is a 10k in sutton on the 6th or 7th Sept may be an idea to enter to see what a race feels like.

  • That's really good advice Susie.  I've a friend doing her first half in Oct - think I'll suggest she tries a 10k beforehand just to get the "feel" of a race.
  •  That’s good that I won’t have to cover the full distance in training, it saves my legs a few extra milesimage.

    As you have mentioned, the thing I am most worried about is how I pace myself through the race. Knowing me I’ll go off like a rocket and then struggle after the first few miles. I’m going to have to try my hardest to restrain from going to fast. What do you reckon would be a sensible time to aim for my first half marathon? I was hoping to keep up around 12km/h pace but I think that is probably just a pipe dream.

    I had planned to enter the 10k race in Sutton on the 7th but now I am unable to make it on that Sunday. Looks like I’ll just have to be a bag of nerves come race day image.
  • Andy

    the killer of all is not controlling the " Going off like a rocket "

    You can often pick pace and time up from a slow start, but rarely do people do much after burning out

    another area for self control and physcology

  • Hi ive never done a race b4 but im also doing the Sutton Park 10k in Sep,  and half in Brum in Oct!! and am really nervous was running on treadmill and thought id be ok then went for jog outside and found it much more difficult!

     Was thinking of just forgetting about the 10k and just training for the half but that would be wimps way out so have decided just to go for it. The worst that cud happen is i dont make it to the end but then that will give me the kick up the bum wot i need to knuckle down with training.

    Good luck Andy but there will be worse people there like me so dont worry, in fact u mite end up doing so well u can give me a piggyback!image

  • My tips.....

     Nerves are normal, don't let them bother you, just remember that pretty much everyone has them.

    Don't get caught up with everyone else at the start of the race, run your own race, stick to your own pace, tell yourself you are well trained, you have ran the distance fine in training.

    Don't worry about coming last, someone has too, and it's nothing to worry about, chances are, you won't, but if you did, so what?

    And most importantly of all, enjoy it!!!!

  • I think I’m going to just try to relax and do my own thing for my first race and not really target any sort of time. Hopefully just enjoy it and take it as a learning experience. This will also help ease the nerves and as you say what’s the worst that can happen, I might have to walk at some points or come last, big deal. Just have to concentrate on the training now.

    Just want to say thanks again for all the advice and encouragement. Also best of luck Susie and Sarahimage, with any luck we will all have a fun and memorable first half marathon. And if you see someone crawling towards the end, say hi because it will probably be meimage.

  • This is what you should do.

    A couple of wks b4 wake up the time u want to get up on race day, so if the race is at 9.30 get up around 6.00 to 6.30 have some breakfast as u would race day, so we are looking at porridge, shredded wheat that sort of thing, maybe some toast or fruit, have your shower pack your kit etc then go for a run at the same time as the race.  This will get u mentally prepared for race day and then u knw what to expect.

     Come race day have your kit ready the night b4 dont eat anything new on race day stick to the plan, get there early (even to early is better than stressing cos u are late) walk the start and warm up on the last part of the course.

    The most important thing DONT START TO FAST you will get sucked along dont go with it stick to what you knw, if you go to fast your race will be done within the first mile, better to start slow and get faster than start to fast and being in hell cos trust me u wont recovery from it.

    from now until race day get lots of practice at running at your race pace over 4 to 5 miles that way you knw what to expect come the day.  



  • JJM

    hi , do we know u

    not seen the name before

  • hi,

    i doubt it, been meaning to sign up for ages but never got round to it until a few wks back.

    my names Jason im from Bristol

  • All the advice already given is sound

    Nothing new on race day (apart from running further than ever before - obviously)

    Start further back than you intend to finish - this will help you go off slowly and you'll find it much easier at the end passing people than you willif you have dozens of people passing you as you feel like you're dying.  If you're not sure where to stand - ask somebody nearby how long they hope to take and adjust your position accordingly - chatting to people will take your mind off the nerves

    Have something in your bag to eat and drink after the race - ideally some protein and carbs but so long as you can stomach it, whatever takes your fancy is fine

    Also - give yourself at least an hour longer to get there than you think you'll need.  There won't be enough car parking (or at least that's how it will seem as you sit in the queue) or enough toilets - this is a common theme at every race - and the lastt hing you need is to be extra stressed trying to figure out where you're going.  If you do get there early, use the time to warm up, wander round the merchandise stalls, go to the toilet at least one more time than you need, seek out other forumites (I guess there's a thread over in Events that you could join in and maybe agree a suitable meeting point) or just sit back and feel thankful that you're not in one of those cars caught up in the ever more frustrated queue.

    Above all - enjoy yourself.  Don't stress about finishing times, it's a PB whatever happens, just get yourself from the start to the finish the start looking forward to the next one.

Sign In or Register to comment.