Got your first 10k race day ahead of you? Congratulations! We couldn't be more excited for you.
Over the years, we've been a part of hundreds of 10k running events, we also work with experienced running coaches Running With Us and Running Clubs of all levels so when it comes to tips about running your first 10k race we have a bank of them! So, we wanted to collate all our Do's and Don'ts to give you everything you need to know about running your first 10k race. Here it is.
This may be stating the obvious but we know some of you may be tempted to 'wing it' and just turn up and hope for the best. But, take our advice and train!
Build up your distance and pace over time focussing on running further and faster each time. Allow yourself plenty of time to build this up so you can set yourself realistic, mini goals every week ahead of the big day.
We also recommend doing other exercise. Running a 10k requires strength, endurance and speed and you can improve those areas through other workouts like cross training, gym workouts to improve leg strength or yoga for flexibility.
Training also means doing a full dress rehearsal at least once. Wear your exact race day outfit in training and it will mean you will avoid blisters, chafing and any uncomfortable clothing when it matters the most.
DO Plan your Race
Ok, so you've been training and you're thinking that's enough for race day? Well, not quite. Actually plan the race itself in detail. In your head go through how fast you want to run at each stage and what nutrition you will take at what point and then execute it in training.
Check out the route - either by map or in person - and make note of hills, bends or landmarks. This will mean no surprises on the day and it will give you some signposts to identify what stage you're at in the race.
Trust us, having this plan nailed down and practiced will make you feel so much more confident at the start line.
DON'T Stop the Prep
By this we mean keep preparing right up until you're standing at the start line. There's a lot you can do to help yourself in the last 24 hours before a race. In fact, there's so much you can do that we have a whole blog on it. There's 10 tips, so save them on your phone or print them out and work your way through them 24 hours before the race. If anything it will distract you from those pre-race nerves!
DO Warm Up
Run on the spot, do a brisk walk, high kicks or skip - whatever it is, try to get your muscles warmed up and stretched before you start the race. Then, take the first mile easy. This will prevent any injury and ease your body into it.
Being dehydrated can negatively impact your energy levels and make it harder for your body to control its temperature so it really is important to stay hydrated. We recommend a ZERO tablet in your water to ensure your body has the vital electrolytes it needs. When you sweat you don't just lose water but electrolytes too and ZERO is one sure way of replenishing them.
'Pre-hydration' is a thing and we recommend drinking ZERO before the race starts. During the race, try a run bottle as it is easier to hold, or make a note of the water stops in your prep and USE them!
We can't stress how important hydration is and we could talk about it all day long - have a look at our 12 things you need to know about hydration so you're up to speed.
DO think about your energy levels
During exercise your muscles will need carbohydrates to keep them fuelled. Carbohydrates provide quick release energy to boost your performance
Your body has a limited store of carbohydrate, enough to last around 90 minutes of strenuous exercise. And while you're likely to finish your 10k in less than 90 minutes, you may find an Energy Drink, Energy Bar or Energy Gel could help your energy levels as well as give you a tasty something to look forward to.
We get that nutrition can be a bit overwhelming so we've broken it down in a simple way here.
We also get that you might want to try it out in training before committing to a large stock of nutrition. We've designed a run pack just for this, it will give you a chance to try different products to help you with hydration, energy and muscle recovery. It also includes a run bottle that we mentioned in the point above!
DO have a good breakfast
A pre-race breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Start the day with a breakfast that you know will give you sustained energy throughout the day.
There are a number of options for a 'good' breakfast. Porridge, peanut butter toast and pancakes are popular choices that give you carbs without being too heavy. However, our personal favourite breakfast? Our new HIGH5 Sports Granola of course! Made from wholegrain oats, dark chocolate curls and roasted hazelnuts, it's been formulated specially to help you sustain energy on race days and you don't have to just have it with milk. You can use it to make flapjacks so you can bring the energy will you!
DON'T underestimate the impact of an audience
Race day will be your first experience of a crowd watching you. Psychologically a crowd does wonders for your performance so use this motivation to spur you on. We recommend inviting friends and family to the race and strategically placing them where you know you'll struggle the most. This doesn't replace the need for prep or training so don't skip that but instead use it to identify where your motivation lacks and put those friends and family in that exact spot!
DON'T forget about nutrition after the finish line
You've pushed your body on race day so don't forget to let those muscles recover with some protein. Protein is vital in the building and maintaining of muscles so as soon as you've reached the finish line celebrate AND grab a Recovery Bar or a Recovery Drink!
DO remember to have a good time
A 10k is a fantastic achievement as is entering into a race for the first time. Don't lose sight of this. So chin up, smile through it and have a good time. It's not just about the finish line, it's every mile along the way so take it all in and enjoy yourself. (We're with you all the way!)
Ok, race day is over, you've done it! But this is not the end. Now is the best time to sign up to another event (in our opinion anyway!) We can help with that - we've complied the best running events of 2022 so have a browse and sign up.
Now you've completed your first 10k race, the fun doesn't stop there. We have a guide to supercharging your 10k training.