Training for your first race

On completion of a running course e.g. “Couch to 5k” or starting out on your own as a runner most will want to set themselves a challange of entering a race. There are so many races and distances to choose from so how best to begin? Talking to novice runners many have the ambition to run a marathon, which is a good ambition providing there is a planned progression to this rather than the marathon being the first race.

parkrun is probably the best place to start, although not a race but a free to enter weekly timed run, it provides a great experience of running with others over a set distance. There will be a park run close to you so check it out and register online., print off your personal bar code and just turn up on a Saturday morning at 9:00am. When you feel comfortable with running 5km then it may be the time to consider upping the distance and look for a 10k race. There are many 10km races all over the country and it’s probably best to consider entering an event close to where you live first, such that travel logistics are easy for you.

It is advisable to get and follow a training plan for a 10km race to ensure that you are fully prepared to cover the distance on race day. As with any race the best advice available is to line up on the start in an appropriate position ensuring you are among peers. When the race begins do not go off too fast, remember the distance is twice that of a parkrun so pacing within your capability is important. Learning to drink “on the run” becomes important in a 10km race, England Athletics advises water stations are provided at least every 5km in road races. This provides good guidance as to when athletes need to be hydrating. In warmer weather  conditions more frequent  hydration may be required, this is obviously individual runner dependant. Building confidence and improving on 10km events is advisable before considering upping the distance. One reason for suggesting this is that basically a half marathon (21km) is about 2 times a 10k and a full marathon (42km) is approx. 4 times a 10km. Improving your confidence and understanding your pacing on a 10km race will provide the necessary building blocks in preparing yourself the challenge of the longer distance.