10 September 2013

5K Race Day Essentials

As much as I would like to call myself a "new" runner, I have actually been running 5Ks for over 10 years. Intermittently, that is. Times sure have changed since I was just doing the annual charity walk/run with my mom's company. There are so many more high-tech devices that some people deem "essential" for their runs. However, the basic core of running has remained (mostly) the same.

Here is my list of what I think are the 6 Essentials you need to have a great time on Race Day!

6 Essentials for running 5K Race Day

1. Good shoes
This is the most expensive thing you need, but also the most important. Consider it an investment. I've run on old shoes that were in bad shape, and they gave me shin splints. I've also bought lighter shoes that actually shaved time off my pace.

My current shoes (and faves so far) are Nike Lunarglide +4. I have hideous all-bright blue ones since those were on sale (pictured above).

2. At least a month of training
Not many people can just up and run 3.1 miles without having at least run a bit for practice lately. Trust me, I tried. About 4 years ago I signed up for a race thinking, "Hey, I'm young and in good shape and do the occasional elliptical workout; how hard can this be?" The answer: very hard. After a mile into the race, my body revolted and I almost vomited, fainted, and shat myself all in the course of a few minutes. Luckily, none of those things happened, but all I could think was, "Why did I pay good money to feel so miserable?"

So get out and run a bit. I especially urge you to get off the treadmill to the great outdoors and do a bit more than 3.1 miles in training a few days before the race, and you'll find a 5K isn't so bad!

3. Proper Running Form
I'm no running coach, but I don't know why so many girls my age flail their arms outward like a flippin' T-Rex when they run. I see at least one of these gals every time I hit the trail. Put your arms by your side with your hands in loose fists with thumbs on top. Move your arms front to back while you look ahead of you. It ain't rocket surgery. Here's a good tutorial from Runner's World on proper form.

Also, lose the smartphone in your hand or get an armband. Actually, for a race, I definitely say to just lose the phone and wear a watch if you want. (Remember those things??)

4. A Buddy
Races are just more fun with a friend. I know this one first-hand as well. I won my age group at a race I went to alone while my husband stayed with our toddler back at home. I walked up, got my trophy, and then had to take a selfie in my car of me and the trophy. Cue sad trombone. At least my Facebook friends cared.
Putting on a happy face. Can't you tell I was actually crying on the inside?
So bring your husband, your sister, your bestie, your mom, or whomever. If they don't want to do the race, then that's fine too. And you luck out because you now have someone cheering you on at the finish line and someone to hold your keys.
With my favorite cheering squad

5. Extra Pins and Twist Ties
Just keep a little baggie of these in your car, mostly for races that where you check in the day of the event. Maybe it's because my last name is at the end of the alphabet, but I have totally been screwed over before. I was once given on safety pin and no twist ties for the shoe chip, and when I asked for each the volunteer had no idea where the extras were. That did not get me in the best mindset before race time.

6. A Positive Attitude
Races are fun! That's why people do them! If you're going into the experience dreading it, or because your wife dragged you along (*ahem* to my husband), you're probably going to have a bad time. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter what your finish time is, but whether or not you enjoyed it. Raising money for a charity you believe in can also help you push yourself in new ways.

Is there anything you would add to this list?


  1. Great list! I haven't run a 5K yet but when I do I'll let you know:)

  2. Water!!! I used to be able run without needing to drink water often, but here in the high desert of Albuquerque, water is a must. I have a small water bottle that I carry and I switch hands every so often. I also bought the Color Me Rad fanny pack and it can fit a water bottle in it. I think it was a good investment. :)

    Great list! Are you going to bump your goal up to a 10K any time in the future?