Running Tips: Planning Your First Race

Are you taking the big step of planning your first race?  It can be overwhelming.  There’s so much literature available and different instructions across the internet.  Fellow runners will give their insight and you’re left with a hundred different ideas on what to do for your race.  I’m here to tell you they’re all right!  They’re also all wrong.  Take the advice you’ve been given and apply it as a guideline.  Different training methods work differently for everyone.  The advice I’m going to give you is generalized so you can take whatever else you’ve read, others have told you, and your own vast knowledge of yourself and apply what will work.

Planning Your First Race

  1. First look at how much time you have to prepare.  Are you planning on running a half or a full?  What shape are you in currently?  If you can already run 8 miles no problem you may only need a month to prepare for a half marathon or 2-3 for a full.  If you are starting from scratch you may want to plan for the long haul and do a fall run and start training at the beginning of the year.
  2. Look at the Season.  What is the weather going to be like in the location?  What will your training weather look like?  You should evaluate these scenarios and adjust your training to reflect the conditions (or even make them harder if possible – I train in the summer heat so the fall races are easier) you’ll be running in.  Be prepared!
  3. Check elevation gain and loss.  If you are running a hilly course, you’ll want to implement that into your training.  As much as you can you’ll want to replicate the conditions of the course and even make it a little more challenging so race day will be easier.
  4. Do Your Research.  Read everything you can and listen to other runners.  Find a training program that works for you.  If you use Galloway, find one that will benefit you and your fitness level.
  5. What is your availability?  It’s more important to create a training schedule that you can stick to.  If you can only run two days a week, make a fitness plan that will support that.  If you can run four days a week, then you may be available to develop a more strenuous running plan.  Therefore, you need to decide what you can commit to and create your plan for the race.
  6. Evaluate Your Goals.  Do you have a time you are working for or is your mission just to complete the race?  Your training should reflect your answer to that question.

You Can Do It

If you do your homework and use these six guidelines to set up your training there is no doubt you will achieve your goals.  If you have the commitment to stick your plan and it is feasible in your life then you will be nothing but successful.  Part of the joy of the first race is the anticipation building up to it.  You learn a lot about yourself in that training and on race day itself.  It truly is a journey of self discovery, the fitness is just a bonus.  Good luck on your endeavors.  Your first race will last within you forever.


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