A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Choosing your first race

on July 15, 2014

Last week, my secretary came to ask my advice about choosing her first 5K. She’s been running for 6+ months now and I know she’s been working hard at it. She wanted to run a race for her birthday in August and had three races she was considering: a foam race and two local charity 5Ks, one of which I know is sponsored by the local running club as well.

My first 5K was the Lifetime Fitness Commitment Day 5K on New Year’s Day in 2013. It was a great experience for a first timer – small race, but enough people that I was never alone. A protected course, without worrying about traffic, and enough space to really run what I wanted to run. There was also a broad range of running / walking paces there, so I wasn’t in the very back of the pack. My goal for that race was to run as much of the race as possible to see what I could do.

Finished my first 5K!

Finished my first 5K!

That was actually my only real question for my secretary – what is your goal for the race? Do you want to run as much of it as you can (or even all of it) or are you just there for a good time? You should have fun, regardless, but extrapolating my experience from the Color Me Rad run to what I’ve read about the foam runs, there’s a difference between enjoying yourself from the run itself and dodging around people who are stopping to play in the entertainment along the course. There’s nothing wrong at all with stopping to play on a themed race course – that’s what they’re designed for! However, if you’re doing this to prove to yourself that you can run a race and it’s your very first time doing it, I think a more straightforward race is a better choice.

Color Me Rad 2013

Color Me Rad 2013

She wants to run and see what she can do without worrying about stumbling over others who might not be running in such a straightforward way, so I advised the local run sponsored by the Omaha Running Club. I’ve heard good things about the race, it’s got a cute simple costume theme but not distractions on the course and the things that the Omaha Running Club is affiliated with are generally well organized, so that should make things go more smoothly. It should also be chip timed, which is nice so she’ll get an official time. It is also a nicely sized event, so she won’t be alone on the course at any point, won’t be worried about being last and won’t get stuck in as much of traffic jam at the beginning.

Really, what I’d like for her (and anyone who asked!) for her first race experience would be something that didn’t add to the inherent stress of lining up at the finish line for the first time; something that helps her feel cheered and supported by her fellow runners; and something that leaves her feeling empowered and ready to keep running!

I do think it’s funny that I prefer a more straightforward event for a first 5K but went with (and would absolutely recommend) RunDisney for my first half marathon! I think for the half marathon, all of the distractions are a necessary thing, not a negative, and you have more space, in terms of miles to pass people and/or make up time lost, to work around people who are stopping to play than you get in a short little 5K.

Totally unexpected character along the course - I had to stop because I knew O would love to see her!

Totally unexpected character along the course – I had to stop because I knew O would love to see her!

I know lots of people love the themed Color Runs and Foam Runs, etc, and that those events are what get them into running in the first place. Certainly, there’s such a huge range of runners and walkers that you should be able to find a happy place within the pack. With my many 5K experiences (who knew that was something I’d ever say!), I’d definitely say that while I enjoyed my Color Run, I’m glad it wasn’t my first race. I think I might have been frustrated by the crowd congestion and not pursued other races if that had been my first exposure to a 5K.

How did you pick your first race?

This week, I’ve linked up the Tuesday on the Run girls as the “first race” topic was just perfect given Raven’s question last week! Thanks to our lovely organizers, April, Patty and Erika for hosting! Be sure to check out their posts and others.

Speaking of races, good luck to everyone registering for the Princess Half Marathon this week! It was a wonderful first half marathon experience. I won’t be going this year, thanks to the Rebel Challenge in January and a cruise in February, but am looking forward to cheering on lots of lovely princesses!



10 responses to “Choosing your first race

  1. My first race was a straight forward 10K and my first 5K was a color run…both were a blast but the straight forward races are still my fave!

  2. I think your advice is spot on; it definitely comes down to what you want to experience for the race. I completed several 5K’s through a combination of walking and running prior to my first 5K that I ran in its entirety. That first all running race was a Color Run and while I loved it, it was hard running around all of the walkers. It is a very walking friendly race, which I think is wonderful, and luckily I was not looking to PR, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could run the whole thing. Good luck to her as she runs her first race next month! She will do great and love it!

    • It would be very frustrating to try to run all of a fun race unless you were somehow at the very beginning of the pack. I don’t know that I’ll be doing another color run unless it was something a bunch of friends wanted to do.

  3. Yep, my first race was a simple, well organized 8K (and I had a mentor who got me all set up for it). Once you’ve done a few, then you can enjoy the other race options out there.

    Thanks for linking up! Hope you’ll join us next week when we talk about running on vacation!

  4. d20girl says:

    I love that you customized your advice based on what she was looking for in a first race, after all everyone wants a different thing from racing! Thanks for linking up with us this week!

    • It turned out to be particularly good advice given the troubles that the Foam run people are apparently having! I just want her to have a good time so she keeps running. πŸ™‚

      On Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 1:05 PM, A Little More Each Day wrote:


  5. […] might talk some more about things I learned in my first race and how to pick a first race. We might talk about reining it in a bit when we get too gung-ho about buying running stuff. You […]

  6. […] should be a good first 5K for her level of training (more on choosing a first race here). It’s a run / walk event, so there will be lots of people of all ages and abilities out […]

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