How to Ease into Road Racing

No regrets1

Yesterday as I bought my new running shoes at the Adidas Store, the clerk who was helping me asked me about learning to run races. “How do I get into racing,” she asked. I asked her, “have you ever signed up for a race before?” She replied, “No.” She had never applied for a race, but she wanted to try one. She was very leery of signing up and participating in races because it seemed like a scary process. I told her that training for the event was scarier than the actual race.

“OK. I said to myself.” “Lets talk about starting. It’s easier than it looks”

I told her that she should start with a small race, something local and easy to navigate. It does not matter about the distance, just pick something you can run at the time and it will be a start.

This would give her time to just run without worrying about where you will finish in the race. Races are not always about being first, some times it is about a new experience.

My first Marathon was about, my mid-life crises (one of many that I am having even as we speak).  Though it has been awhile, and I have not gotten past my mid-life crises, I still run Marathons. They are still great, exciting events that I love to attend every year and sometimes use as travel destination.

This is how you start picking a first race to do. There are four steps to getting into running races.

1. First you need to do research to pick a race.

Figure out where you want to run your first race. If it is not nearby, plan on how you are going to get to the race, where you will stay and price out the trip. That is all very common sense, but you would be surprised at people who do not realize that an away trip needs to  include a budget for food, hotel, travel and the race incidentals (souvenirs, things you forgot, extras). Picking your distance is import an as well. Try to run a distance that you have or if you are ambitious, stretch and go for something new. Plan. Anything is affordable if you plan.

2. Next you need to sign up (a very important step that cannot be skipped).

When you find your race, you have to fill out the racing form and pay the race fee. Races can be expensive so this has to be a consideration if you are not very well set. Local races can be affordable. Popular races are not affordable. Supply and Demand. After you past this hurdle you are ready to train. Some races fill up early, so apply quickly to races.

3. Next comes the training.

There are hundreds of training plans online or you can read book. Even better, you can borrow a friends training program and train with them. It is always good to train with someone on your first time out, but not necessary.

Make a training plan and keep it. Do what it says as well as you can. Don’t beat yourself up if it is not perfect. Experience is its own teacher.

Training can be fun. The time on the road can be life changing. It is different everyday. When you have completed your race training, you have completed everything but the last part of your journey, the race.

4. Lastly comes the showing up to run the race.

Travel to your race. Go to the starting line and make sure that you are not at the front unless you are a Kenyan or a professional. That is important because even though the front is fun, you can be trampled by the faster runners or hold them up.  Getting hurt is not worth the excitement. Just a thought when lining up. At the bell ,or gun, (or however the race is started) you are on your way to participating in your first race.

Learning how to race is mostly experiential. No one can tell you how to do it, until they see you run a race. That is something for another post.

Yes, you should be excited, but don’t be a nuisance.

The road is open to those who choose it.

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