Next weekend, I’ll be running with a friend for her first 5K. She’s a little anxious because she hasn’t run as much as she’d like lately. Another runner friend told her to “just run 5 times between now and the race and you’ll be fine. By the way, if you’re running a 5K next weekend you should totally run the Indy Mini Marathon in November.” Understandably for busy mortals like us, this advice intimidated her a bit (although I’m sure it was well intentioned – clearly a runner trying to share her love of the sport!).
My advice is a little more practical.
- Success in your first 5K is crossing the finish line. Don’t get caught up in time goals for your first time, especially if you haven’t been training for a specific time.
- Don’t line up at the front of the pack. I screwed that up in my first race. Pick somewhere around the middle of the pack unless you know you’re going to walk (then get in the back) or you know you’re super speedy. Check last year’s finish times to get an idea as to where you’ll fall in the pack.
- Get there in plenty of time to get your bib (if you haven’t already) and go the bathroom – odds are good that will take longer than you expect! Don’t let nerves about needing to go the bathroom or being late throw you off before your first race. 🙂
- Have your patience handy. If you haven’t run a race before, the amount of jostling that occurs when you run near other people can be distracting. It’ll clear out.
- Have someone there to cheer you on! I always get a little sad when I hear people say that something is “just a 5K” or that they aren’t very fast. You’re getting out there and doing something awesome. That should be celebrated! While there were good reasons I didn’t have my guys at the finish line of my first 5K, I do wish they’d been there because crossing that finish line was a huge moment for me. We will definitely be cheering our hearts out for our friend! Darrell and Oliver have a gift for being just a little late to finish lines, but I will be sure to keep them all posted so they’re in position for this finish.
As a bonus, if you can bring along a friend who won’t annoy you AND will promise to finish after you, you totally should. 🙂
This 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 there. That decreases the odds that you’ll be left alone out on the course. I always find that races with families also have better cheering at the finish too!
What advice would you give to a first timer at a 5K if they’re a little worried about being undertrained?