This content was adapted from an article written by Christine Luff, fitness writer, avid runner and certified running coach, and published on verywellfit.com.
After spending weeks and months training and preparing for your first race, the last thing you need is any additional stress to take away from the excitement of the big day. To ensure race day goes smoothly, here are a few handy tips that can help from the moment you register right through to crossing the finish line.
1. Register early
Get off on the right foot by registering early. Early registration can ensure that you get your correct race shirt size before inventory runs out. Canada Army Run pricing is based on stepped price increases. The earlier you register, the lower the price of entry fees!
2. Know the race route
Route maps will be available during race kit pick-up, so ask a volunteer for one, download a copy from our website or use the Canada Army Run mobile app. This will come in handy when planning for water stops. Canada Army Run will provide participants with a timing chip to accurately clock their “net time” from start to finish.
3. Don’t overdress
Overdressing has tripped up many a first-time runner. As a rule of thumb, dress as if the weather is a few degrees warmer than it actually is. You’ll heat up once you’ve hit your stride. So if the weather report says that it’s going to be a comfy 23° C, pretend you’re in Florida and it’s a balmy 32° C!
If it’s cold outside, wear a few extra layers of clothing that you can strip off as the starting time nears. Canada Army Run offers a free bag check for all participants where you can store your items until after the race.
If hot temperatures are forecast, spend a few extra dollars to buy running gear made of cooler, moisture-wicking fabrics. Alternately, opt for looser-fitting clothes along with the appropriate sunscreen and sunglasses.
And while you’re at it, take the time to time to trim your toenails. Doing so will save you a lot of discomfort (and a case of black toenail) if one happens to be too long.
4. Choose your pre-race food wisely
It is best to have a high-carbohydrate breakfast four hours before a race to ensure you have enough stored energy in the form of glycogen. Think pancakes, waffles, or a nice bagel with peanut butter.
However, avoid overeating or indulging in rich, fatty or high-fiber foods. While you may assume this will provide you with extra energy, all it will likely do is cause stomach upset or a case of the runner’s trots.
If you must have coffee in the morning, limit yourself to no more than one regular cup. Anything more may promote urination.
One to two hours beforehand, drink a large glass of water and have nothing else until the starting gun. This should provide you with hydration while reducing the risk of unexpected pit stops.
5. Pin your bib correctly
Don’t make the rookie mistake of pinning your race bib on the back of your shirt. Pin it to the front with a safety pin or BibBoard on each corner. This will help officials know that you are a part of the race. Your free, official race photographs will be also listed on the website by bib number, allowing you to locate yours quickly. Therefore your bib number must be visible for the photographers to catalogue and index the photos and provide them to you.
Make sure that the timing chip located on the back of your race bib is not bent or covered with clothing or a running belt.
Be sure to arrive early so that you will not only get a great parking spot but can speak with a volunteer if there’s a problem with your bib or timing chip.
6. Line up properly
Runner’s etiquette dictates that novice runners allow faster, seasoned competitors their place at the front of the starting line. As much as you may want to be in the center of the action, standing too close to the front can interfere with active competitors and cause frustration.
Canada Army Run organizes participants in corrals based on their estimated pace or finish time (selected during registration). If unsure, ask runners around you about their anticipated pace. If it’s faster than yours, position yourself further to the back. By the time the race is fully underway, you’ll experience the excitement of the run whatever your position.
7. Prepare for water stops
One of the reasons for getting a map at registration or downloading the mobile race app is to anticipate the location of water stations. Doing so reduces the anxiety of wondering when you’ll next be able to hydrate. If you’ve hydrated properly in advance of the race, you should be able to take in enough water to keep going without having to look for the nearest porta-potty.
If you see a water station approaching, don’t go to the first set of tables where all of the congestion is likely to be. Instead, head for the next set, veering to the right table if you’re right-handed and the left table if you’re left-handed. In this way, you can snatch a cup easily without breaking your stride.
If volunteers are handing out cups of water, look the volunteer in the eye so that he or she knows you’re coming. As you snatch the cup, be sure to say “thank you,” and toss the empty cup into a receptacle when finished.
8. Finish with flair
Don’t pressure yourself to achieve a really fast time for your first race. Finishing is an achievement unto itself and one worth celebrating. If anything, consider it part of an initiation into a larger order of enthusiasts. The more you relax and enjoy the spirit of the race, the more likely you will be to come back for more!