Running your first event can be daunting so I compiled the below list to help!
Get there ahead of schedule! Nothing worse than on your first half marathon panicking about where you need to go to drop your bag and find the toilet! Get there early. Enjoy the atmosphere. Most half marathons are started in waves, be honest to yourself about your ability and it will be a lot more enjoyable.
Don’t get sucked in. The start can be a little daunting but once you cross the start line, you will need to settle in to YOUR pace. Avoid getting sucked into other people’s race pace as this could and probably will back fire in the closing stages. Its always great to save some for the last few miles and everyone loves a sprint finish!
Don’t change anything. What I mean is, don’t try anything new. New shoes, new running belt, no gels etc. You don’t want to have to stop if your trainers begin rubbing, the gels have given you a stomach ache etc. You can try these things out during your training runs.
Imagine you’re a racing car. Take the racing line where possible, all courses are measured along the shortest route. If your half marathon for example, (like MK Half did) has plenty of roundabouts, try and run on the inside of the roundabout and not on the outside! Same with corners. Will save you time and energy! Obviously don’t move left and right aggressively to avoid annoying other runners.
Ditch the headphones. I always use to run with headphones but this year I made the decision to ditch them. A lot events now ban headphones anyway and you may not get an official time. Also, you can communicate with your fellow runners which maybe much needed!
Hitting the wall. There will become a time when you suddenly think you cant do this but you can. Its mind over matter. If you have trained well, you will know you can do it.
Study the route. Almost all events will have the route profile online. Its nice to be prepared about what can be expected. If its your first, it can help with making sure it’s the right half for you! Remember, flat doesn’t always mean easy! I find completely flat runs a little tedious and means there are no breaks in the pace. A hill can be your friend!
Be weather ready. The UK weather (current conditions excluded) can be very unpredictable. I normally take an old jumper or even a bin bag with me to the start if its cold. That way I can leave it at the start line when the gun goes.
Body Glide is your friend. Body glide can save you from some unfortunate chaffing. I have seen runners with large red rings around their nipples as they cross the line. It’s a god send!
Enjoy it. Remember why you decided to do this. It will be tough. It will take its toll on your body but just remember that feeling you have when you cross the line. You have your medal and you see your friends and family afterwards.