Racing is inherently a solo activity. Only you can control your speed, your mind and your pain threshold.
Sure, sure you’re surrounded by thousands of other spandex clad runners, but you aren’t so much working together as simply forging ahead with lips pursed and eyes laser beamed in on the person in front of you.
So if we’re out there for ourselves, is there race etiquette to be followed? Running rules?
Not the ask miss manners white glove no snot rockets kind, but yes.
Today we’re not focusing on what to eat the night before or how to carbo-load correctly, but instead some of the first time race day tips that can help you feel more at ease with what’s about to happen.
First Race Day Tips
After months of training, everyone arrives at the start line a little amp’ed up, anxious and determined. Maybe that means shuffling a little closer to the front, maybe it means nerves that require a few more bathroom breaks…maybe it means music loud enough to drown out the negative voices.
It always means thousands of people focused on their own goals, but needing to flow together for optimal enjoyment and performance.
For those fearful of lining up at their first race and those whose britches have gotten too big from being a long time runner, a few race day tips to make everyone’s experience a tad more fun and hopefully PR worthy.
Wearing the Race Shirt
What to wear on race day…well let’s talk about that race shirt.
DO feel free to wear it on race day for something like a Halloween run or a Pink event.
DON’T wear it for longer distances, it’s just an unspoken rule of “earning” the shirt.
DO wear the race shirt from the previous year if you ran to show off your veteran status.
DON’T wear race shirts from races you didn’t run.
DO race a marathon shirtless if it’s hot and it makes you feel great.
DON’T worry about what anyone else is wearing, you’ve got enough to focus on.
Listen some of these are myths and just general guidelines, so you do what feels best to you!
Race Bib Placement
Turns out this is the most forgotten item on race morning and it’s required to get your time, so place it next to your shoes or something you can’t leave without.
DO write your name on your bib for more cheers
DON’T wear your race bib on your back (you’ll get no photos)
DO wear your race bib on your shorts, IF you’ve tested this out (you can pin it to the leg or to the waistband)
DON’T pin your race bib to your skin (ewe, so gross I couldn’t even show the photo)
Using the Bathroom on Race Day
Listen runners trots happen sometimes on race day and it sucks, but embrace the bathrooms available. We aren’t winning these races (usually) so no need to poop yourself.
DO use the provided porta potties
DON’T judge those who have to use a bush because lines are too long
DO bring your own TP to the start
DON’T well seriously just don’t leave the porta potty so gross even a desperate runner won’t use it
What to do at the Start Line
DO get in your assigned corral. They have them to prevent people from getting run over and to prevent faster runners from being slowed down.
DON’T think that getting closer to the front is better. If you’re getting knocked over by people passing you the anxiety level is going to shoot up. Instead, get with folks around your pace and enjoy!DO feed off the energy of those around you and line up with friends.
DON’T run 5 wide and make it impossible for anyone to pass your merry band.
How you start the race is huge! You don’t want to blast out of the gates and use up all your energy. So keep calm and stick to your plan.
What to do at the Finish Line
DO run all the way across both mats to get your time and best finishers photo.
DON’T get cranky with the volunteers. You might be tired,but they are unpaid help making our enjoyment possible.
DO encourage any runner you are passing with a very simple “good job” or “we got this”
DON’T assume you know why someone is walking or tell them they need to run.
What is a Running Bandit?
DO run a mile or so if a friend really needs you, unless the course is already super crowded.
DON’T hop in right after the start and hop off right before the finish. Race directors will tell you they plan support for a certain number of runners and of course most races benefit a charity, so you’re cheating them too.
How to do Water Stops in a Race
DO begin moving to the side of the water station when you see it coming up,to avoid the sprinting horizontal through traffic.
DON’T come to a complete stop, unless you like being shoved from behind.
DO slow down and walk if needed, just keep moving forward
DON’T take Gatorade at every stop (your stomach will thank you)
What to do with water cups?
DO toss your cup to the side
DON’T drop in the middle of the road for everyone else to run over (it becomes slippery).
DO look before you toss to avoid sloshing volunteers or other racers.
DON’T treat the street like a garbage can. Hold on to those gel wrappers until you see a trash area.Flickr photo JustinDC
Taking Walk Breaks During the Race
DO move to the side.
DON’T be afraid to take them, whether it’s your race plan or just a must stop now before I die feeling.
DO look behind you to avoid slamming into someone as you move to the side.
DON’T stop mid stride in the middle of the road.
And I feel like it goes without saying, but no cutting the course short!
We’ve seen a lot of reports of this lately and it sucks for everyone involved. You’ll get blacklisted and the people who really earned a spot will be cut out and you didn’t earn it, so really how good will it make you feel.
These running rules are just scratching the surface. There’s also things like running against traffic when on the road and how you pass someone on the track. But today, we’re really just focused on how to make race day great!
Still freaking out?
Checkout this post on:
- How to manage race day nerves
- 8 ways to have your best half marathon race day
- Fueling strategy for the half marathon!
Finally a reminder that the TIME is not the only measure of a great day, so relax and enjoy the efforts of your training regardless of pace.
Any race day pet peeves you have?
Other tips you’d provide a new runner?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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