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How to prepare for your first race

Tips for running a successful 2K, 5K or 10K

From SheKnows Canada
Taking part in your first race is an exciting endeavour. Whether you're tackling a 2K, a 5K or a 10K, you want to make sure you prepare yourself in all the right ways. Give yourself every advantage possible with this simple guide for racing success.

Woman running

Start small

If you attempt to run at top speed for the entire length of a long run without any experience, you will not be as successful as you want, and that can leave you feeling discouraged. Instead, start out with a very small distance, and run at a pace where you can still talk normally. The next time you head out for a run, add on the length of a telephone pole or two. Keep adding on in this manner until you approach the distance you will be covering on the day of your race.

Take it easy

When you first start training, don't compare yourself to anyone else. Just because someone you know can run 10K with ease doesn't mean you have to right from the get-go. If you're out on a run and you feel overwhelmed, don't be afraid to slow your pace or to walk for a bit. Getting your race skills up to par is a journey, so don't be too hard on yourself while you get there. Many regular runners prefer to run for 10 minutes and walk for one, so you'll be in good company by doing the same.

Team up

If you're having a hard time staying motivated, consider getting a friend involved. Being able to chat while you train can help get you out on the road on days when you would rather not. It can also be a great source of brainstorming because you can share which tips and tricks are working for each of you.

Eat right

As you begin training for the first time, your body will experience a lot of changes. Proper nutrition is a key component in ensuring your muscles build the strength you need to run a successful race. Aim for your meals to be rich in protein, whole grains, good fats, fruits and vegetables. Steer clear of white sugar and refined flour except on the actual race day, when you will need quick energy.

Rest well

Giving yourself one or two rest days a week is an important part of training. When you skimp on rest time, your muscles are not able to heal properly, and that can cause you to be weaker when race day arrives. Get as much sleep as possible, particularly in the week leading up to the race, and take a day off every week to ensure you are at your peak when you need to be. In addition, although you want to build up your distance and speed as your training progresses, aim to hit your maximum effort a week or so before race day. Then, in the week leading up to race day, run smaller distances to keep your body active but not overworked.

more on race fitness

The best foods to eat after exercise
Marathon success: Tips on training
How to eat for energy

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