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Race Day Tips

So you are now facing your first race. RELAX!
The key to any successful race is to enjoy yourself! If anything does go wrong, such as broken laces, an upset stomach or a pulled muscle, remember that it is not the end of the world. Athletes do experience injury from time to time and they all live to run another day. So here's what to do:

Setting your goal:
This is easy. You simply want to finish the race. This is to be an experience. You have no record to base a run on, so enjoy it.

Planning your strategy:
Break your run into short intervals. Know in advance where the landmarks are and use them as a start and finish of each section of the course. Warm-up by running the last kilometre of the course, if possible.

Planning your food and drink:
Do not change your eating and drinking routines. Now is not the time to experiment. Consume your last meal one to three hours before the run. You might want to eat less and fill up at the conclusion of the race. Drink a glass of water before you begin and consume water as it is offered to you on the race course.

Arriving at the race:
Do not let yourself be intimidated by the other runners. Do not worry about what they are doing for warmups. It is easy to see someone wearing the latest running gear and assume that they are a fast runner. Do some walking, some jogging and some stretching.

Finding a starting position:
Join in the back section of the running group. This way you will avoid the rush at the front. Do not worry about the runners who take off ahead of you. It is better to start off slowly and catch up later to the runners in front of you rather than start in a hurry, die out and watch runners passing you. Remember that your goal is to finish. Establish a comfortable pace, speed up if you feel strong and slow down if you find yourself struggling.

Feeling like walking:
O.K. so you feel like walking, fine. There is no law that says you can not walk the course. Take a break from running if you feel that you need to. You can walk while getting and drinking water from the water stations. No one will even notice.

Finishing the race:
This is your goal. Do not try to be a hot dogger and sprint the final metres of the race. Maintain your pace and form. Smile!

Recovering from the race:
Congratulations, you're a finisher! Walk around for a cool down and chat with fellow runners. Drink liquids and enjoy the post race snacks. Change into dry clothes and cover your arms and legs if it is a windy chilly day. When you get home, do some stretching and shower or have a warm bath.
Take the next day off from running. Put on that t-shirt you just earned and be proud!

© Women in Motion -September 1.2000

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