The race, the real picture

Heads up beginners: the race, the real picture

* Lining Up–Get thee back. Race organizers usually post numbered pace signs at the start. If you aren’t sure how fast you’ll run, line up at about the speed per mile you average for daily workouts. For instance, line up at the number 10 if you plan to average a 10-minute per mile pace during the race. The plastic chip riding along on your shoe will record when you cross the start and finish line mats. You will get your actual running time, so there’s no need to crowd the front of the race where you may get trampled. Get thee back to the friendly Chat Pack where you’ll find lots of encouragement and support for your first event.

* The Start–When the horn sounds, you’ll have to wait. There are a lot of runners to get moving. The crowd’s momentum hesitates like a Slinky. Be patient; don’t battle the masses. Start your runner’s watch when you cross the starting line–not when the horn blasts. This way you’ll know your pace. If you don’t have a runner’s digital watch, set the hands of your watch at noon and start it at the starting line.

* Getting Water–In most races it’s not necessary to carry a water bottle. The course is lined with long tables end to end with water-filled cups. Either gently lift a volunteer-proffered cup, or scoop one up off the table. Don’t dive for the first cup at the first table and the first volunteer. There’s plenty to go around. A cup or two every 15 to 20 minutes will keep you hydrated for a 10K.

It’s best to run through a water station while drinking your water. A little practice makes this much easier and it might be a bit much to ask on your first race. But, please do not stop abruptly and walk when you get your cup or the next runner might run up your back. Get water and step out of the flow of traffic. The same goes if you stop to tie your shoe, hug a family member on the sidelines or have a picture taken. Give a little hand signal in the direction you intend to move, then pull over to the side of the road. Your fellow runners will appreciate the consideration.

* Pace–Run fast enough for perspiration, but not for expiration. First-timers should start out at your normal effort level. If you are comfortable with the distance, pick up the pace the next few miles. Some of you won’t have much choice in this matter, due to the crowds. But the crowds do you a favor, you can’t start too fast. That’s nice.

Don’t run out of gas. If you need a walk break, take one. After all, nowhere in the race application does it say you must run every step of the way. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and cover the entire course to be a winner. Now if you are a pretty fast runner and you get caught in the back of a too-slow pack, don’t panic. Weaving in and out of runners wastes a tremendous amount of energy, so relax and make your move when the crowd opens up.

* Running Double and Single–Now it’s really fun to run with a partner or two. A whole gaggle is better yet, but have a little consideration as you plow through the course. Try to stay one or two abreast–so faster runners can get by.

* Don ‘t Cut Corners–It discounts your effort, not your time.

Shelly-lynn Florence Glover, M.S., is an exercise physiologist and co-author of The Runner’s Handbook and The Runner’s Training Diary with her husband and training partner Bob Glover. She tutors first-time marathoners through her personal coaching firm, Great Strides, and the New York Road Runner’s Club running classes. She is the co-author of the official training program for the New York City Marathon. Members can order her books at a discount-call 1-800-776-2732 or visit www.americanrunning.org.

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Running & Fitness Association

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