My Golden Rule For First Time Competitors

A long distance training run is the perfect time to discuss training tips and experiences. Over the years, I’ve been given lots of advice, but every now and then you hear something that changes the way that you train for the better.

Running Advice

Much of the best advice was passed down to me by members of my local running club. When I first joined, I had previously just one running partner, wore the wrong trainers and hadn’t even heard of a Garmin. I had never competed in a race, favouring training and perhaps shying away from competition.

My first few races went ok. To begin, the Southend Half Marathon, which I completed in 1 hour 51 – not a great effort by my standards, but at the time I was over the moon. Though it was a race of two halves, the second much slower than the first, I had fallen to what is now my number one rule.

Constantly chasing the guy in front, thinking that I must be better than him and therefore should get ahead was great in the short term, but long term, I would be overtaken and subsequently end the race behind many of my conquests.

Which leads me to my one golden rule. Run your own race.

Most people train for weeks if not months for their first race. You know how your body works, and barring a blow out on race day, you’ll have a rough guide as to the kind of time you’re after. My advice is to keep that time in mind, break it down into miles and just try and hit those mile markers on time.

Above all, it’s easier to run your own race. Imagine you’re out there on your own and you won’t worry about where Joe Bloggs is in relation to you, after all, he may have been training for years more than you – so don’t worry, especially if it’s your first competition.

Of course, there’s a whole load of variables that can affect your finish time including the weather, water intake and your diet. But messing up your race by pacing yourself wrong is avoidable and you’ll never forgive yourself.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

6 thoughts on “My Golden Rule For First Time Competitors

  1. A fellow blogger put it very succinctly: “every ounce of irrational exuberance in the early miles of a marathon is paid for with a pound of pain the latter miles.” Though this isn’t ALWAYS the case, because marathon morning could dawn on that perfect day after 4 months of the optimal training program …

    … but that’s not always the case. So I’ve always told myself to take it easy in those first miles. Sure, they feel easy and obviously I could run them faster if they were the only miles I had to run. But they’re not. There are 16-20 more to come. Take it easy.

    • Wise words buddy. I completely agree, I ran a 20 mile race with a partner & took the first 13 easy, which almost felt too easy, but come the last couple I was thankful that I’d taken it slower and actually had one of the best races of my life.

    • Haha, you sound like a friend of mine.

      I’d forgotten to take my Garmin along to a 10k race and he told me that he was going for a sub 40 minute run. I knew that as long as I finished before him I’d be in the 38’s or 39’s. Any way, he finished in 42 minutes and I completed the course 30 seconds shy of a sub 40.

  2. Best advice I would give myself, fuel up properly (before and during), and dont drink coffee before the big run. (It is shocking the difference both of those things make.)

  3. I agree, you should always run your own race. I often run races with friends. sometimes they leave me behind, sometimes I leave them behind. No one’s feelings get hurt because all of us know that we need to run our race, not someone elses.
    Fueling before and during a race is crucial. My legs may hurt but as long as I have energy I can keep them moving.
    Hydration is important also. Try not to drink much 30-60 before the start and get in line for the porta-potty. You will need it. I usually have a little to drink right before the start and then hit most water stops along the way. This way I avoid having to make a stop during the race.

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