Any organized event that has an official starting line is bound to be a bit chaotic and if you’re new to the experience, it can be very overwhelming. This is unfortunate because regardless of the type of event, the number one priority (in my opinion anyway) is to have fun. Starting out stressed is not fun. Not only that, but you can waste valuable energy fretting. Energy that you will likely need for whatever you are lining up to do.
If you’re new to the game, or have been at it for years, here are some tips to survive the starting line:
1. Know your place: Even the funnest of events will always have some hardcore athletes who are in it to win it. If you’re not the fastest, or not worried about your time, stay away from the front of the line. Let the fasties go first. Even in a timed race, if you’re wearing your timing chip, you’re time doesn’t start until you cross the threshold so don’t worry if you’re toward the middle or back and the bottle necking causes a delay in starting.
2. Know your pace: A lot of longer races (half and full marathons) will have pace bunnies: runners who are specifically there to keep your pace for and with you. They’ll usually be wearing something fun (bunny ears, a flag etc) to identify them, along with a written pace or total race time. Find the group that is closest with the time you have in mind to run and line up with them.
3. Listen to your body: Sometimes in the midst of race day excitement we forget to listen to our body and its cues. Treat the race like you would a training session and make sure you’re well hydrated, stretched and dressed for the conditions you’re racing in.
4. Give yourself some encouragement before you start: What better way to focus and calm down than to give yourself a little motivation talk. Take a few minutes, quiet your mind and tell yourself that you’re ready, you’re going to have fun and you’re going to finish strong.
And above all…HAVE FUN!!