First official run: 5 things you learn

Your first official run can be a daunting experience

I made my official run debut (10k) today and the whole preparation rigmarole set me thinking.

Here are a few observations that could prove handy for anyone similarly planning on entering their first-ever ?proper? race.

Pesky safety pins

Now, I?m not the most manually-adept person on the planet. So when the requirement for safety pins was flagged up to me I was already factoring in half an hour of getting cheesed off with them.

You need safety pins so you can attach your race number to your shirt. But the pesky buggers don?t half put up a fight.

The first quandary was whether to attach the number while wearing the shirt or not. I chose to apply it while not wearing it so laid the shirt down on a bench and got to work. The process didn?t take too long and I felt it looked decent enough.

I then attempted to put the shirt on but it wouldn?t fit. As it turned out, I?d managed to attach the pins a little too much to the material of the shirt, meaning it wouldn’t now go over my head.

The shirt was fine, it could?ve run the race itself. The problem was that in its current state I wouldn?t be in it. The only option was to unfix all the safety pins, put my shirt on this time and refasten them.

This proved much easier. But not before, and with one eye frantically on the clock ahead of run time, I pierced my thumbnail with one of the pins and had to find a tissue to stem some bleeding. Although it was finally job done I imagined experienced race enterers to be looking at me and my now scrappily fixed race number and thinking ?amateur?.

Chip timing

Again I?d been tipped off I might get handed a chip prior to my first official run. Something that fixes on your shoe in order to record your time. However, happily this didn?t appear, meaning that after safety-pingate I couldn’t get in tangle with something else. I still spent most of the warm-up checking out fellow competitors’ shoes just in case I’d missed picking one up!

Look for back-up toilets

Find them – and by this I don?t mean a tree. Remember note to self: the building that features the hastily made message written in some sort of crayon: ?Male toilets and changing area? are never actually open (they’re probably not even a toilet). That means a quick jog for a back-up. Cue more frantic running around and the race hasn?t even started yet.

Fit in time for a warm-up

If you manage to survive the fraught experience of preparation, a decent set of stretches and light jogging always helps you focus on the challenge ahead. It doesn’t matter if it’s half an hour or five minutes, it will help.

The actual run

After all the prep it’s finally run time. So remember to enjoy it – even when you encounter the umpteenth hill on the course. And if you’re lucky you’ll even get a medal at the finish.

Photo credit: HyVee Road Races at the Drake Relays via photopin (license)

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