Summer is almost over and that can only mean one thing, fun run season is about to kick off. You may have set yourself a new years resolution to complete an event or a friend may have talked you into joining them – it all sounded like a great idea at the time but as the big day looms closer what do you need to do to be prepared? Of course you’ve trained and you are used to running but why not take some of our advice and set yourself up for a great first experience by following these simple tips.

• Race Kit Collection – Can you pick up your race bib early and beat the rush on the day, or can you only collect on the day? If you can collect your bib early it’s a great way to get yourself organized in advance.
• Know the course – It helps to know what route the event will take, if will ease your mind to know where you are heading as you run and more importantly what’s coming up.
• Headphones – Not all runs allow headphones for safety reasons so check if your run allows them. If you are used to training with music and you can’t have your tunes it can be demoralizing at first but allow yourself to appreciate the sounds of a fun run, take in the cheers and the atmosphere.
• Plan your travel – will you be driving to the event, carpooling or catching public transport? Be aware of parking restrictions, road closures and timetables and make sure you don’t miss the start of the race. There is nothing worse than being stressed and stranded in your car as the race start time looms.
• Practice what you’ll eat before the run and know it works – You may be doing an early morning run, or it may be a later in the day run. Make sure your body is used to what you will be eating and it doesn’t disagree with you. There is nothing worse than a touch of ‘runners stomach’ hitting whilst you are on the course.
• Plan your outfit – make sure whatever you are wearing is comfortable and won’t cause chafing or rubbing. If it’s going to be an early morning run in cold weather consider layering some clothing as you will warm up quickly. Major fun runs often take donations of clothes left at the start line so you can shed your layers just before your run.
• Arrange a meeting point with friends – If you are meeting friends at the run pick a landmark to meet at and a time. Having friends around you at your first run is a great way to make sure your run is fun. Carpooling is also a great way to ensure that are all ready to run together.
• Encourage your own cheersquad to come along. Seeing family whilst you are on the run might be just the pick-me-up you need, it’s great to know that you have the support of family and friends as you hit your goals.
• Know where the toilets are and beat the queues and get in early = often there will be additional portaloos available at major events but there can still be a long line of runners so don’t leave this important facet of pre-race preparation to the last minute.
• Know where the water stops are – Do you need to carry water? Will there be electrolytes on the course? Are they using a different electrolyte from what you are used to (be wary because a new product may cause issues on the day, so if you have a chance find out what they are using and trial it yourself.)
• Don’t go out too hard – It’s very easy when the start gun goes to expect to run straight away, often that doesn’t happen and it can be seconds or even minutes before you pass the official start line. Don’t try and make up time that you’ve ‘lost’ but running too fast at the start, ease in and feel comfortable. Be aware that you often have two times in a timed race, a ‘gun time’ which is the time from when the event started, and a ‘net time’ which is the time it took you to do the course from the official start line. The ‘net time’ will be faster and is a true reflection of your time.
• Keep left – stay left on the course so faster runners can get past. Also be realistic when it comes to seeding yourself at the start. Some fun runs will require you to submit a predicted time and you will get a starting zone but other smaller races allow runners to place themselves in the starting chute. If you aren’t likely to be one of the first finishers make sure that you aren’t at the front of the race, you may get knocked over in the rush.
• Water stop etiquette – water stops can become very busy, if there are multiple tables try and run to the last one, but be cautious because the ground around can be quite slippery, grab a cup and keep moving. Be aware that if you stop and drink you are going to have people run into you as they strive for their personal best. Our big tip is to try and empty some of the water out and then pinch the cup to make a spout which will make it easier to take water in whilst you keep running, it will save you spilling water or having it end up in your nose.
• Thank any event volunteers you encounter – events are often only possible thanks to the help of volunteers keeping you safe on the course and keeping you hydrated so a smile and acknowledgement of their donation or time is always appreciated.
• Have fun and be proud – Remember why you signed up, chances are you weren’t a runner before this and completing an event for the first time is a fabulous achievement. Be proud of what you’ve done and enjoy the experience – it’s definitely addictive.

A good race experience will help to get you back for race number 2 and beyond, following our simple tips above should help ease the pre-race nerves and help to make for a memorable and fun run.