Yeah! You just signed up for a race!! Now what?
Signing up is just step one. Now you start the work and planning for a successful run. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5k, 10k, half marathon or a full 26.2 miles – there are certain things all runners should do when they sign up for a race. Check out this list as part of your race preparation…
5 Things To Do When You Sign Up for a Race
1. Packet pick-up planning. When and where is packet pick-up?
Some races do not allow you to get your bib on race day so you have to get it the day before the race. If you don’t live super close this means an extra drive OR making sure your travel plans allow you to be near the race site in time for packet pick-up (it doesn’t usually stay open late).
You might have to come to town a day earlier or take another flight – keep that in mind while making travel arrangements.
Smaller races sometimes have packet pick-up at a local running store or park that is NOT near or on the race course. Don’t assume packet pick-up and the race are in the same location. Check packet pick up location, date and time well in advance of race weekend!
2. The course map and elevation.
So, you just signed up for a race. Yeah! You know you need to train. Check. But are you training for a super hilly race? Is it a flat course? Is it on a trail or pavement? Find out what type of challenges you’ll be facing on race day to be prepared.
Also the course map will tell you if the race starts and finishes at the same spot and where your supporters can see you (more on that below).
Note the following information:
- Start line and Finish line location
- Where the water / aid stations are located
- Where the bathrooms are located along the course
- Any fun sights or landmarks where you want to take pictures
- A good location to tell your family to meet you
Fun fact: I have been at many half marathon starting lines and asked someone next to me, “How is this course??!” Ummm Monican, at that point it’s too late.
It’s important to know what type of weather you’ll be running in on race day. Some race websites share ‘average temperature’ for that time of year to give you a ballpark. You can also look up an estimate of what the weather will probably be that day online.
This is important because the weather determines – what you are wearing, if you should tweak your goals, how much to hydrate before and more.
4. Race Day Logistics.
If you just signed up for a bigger race you will have to be at the start line well in advance of the actual start time. There are often traffic jams and road closures and basically well – chaos as thousands of people descend on one small area.
Plan what time you need to leave your home or hotel to get to the start with plenty of time to park, take a shuttle, walk, pee and get to the start line. Races like this include Rock N Roll Marathon races, Run Disney (both in Anaheim and Orlando), the New York City Marathon and other “big” city half and full marathons.
If a race starts and ends at different locations you might be required to park at the finish and take a shuttle to the starting line. This is actually fairly common! The good news is when you finish the race you can just walk to your car. The bad news is grabbing a shuttle requires extra time before the race and makes for a VERY early wake-up call.
Tip: You might have to pay for parking so keep some cash handy.
If you have family or friends who are meeting you at the race or want to come out and watch – give them specific information. Let them know what roads are closed and where exactly to see you. Plan for them to be at a certain intersection or mile marker so you won’t miss each other. Decide on a place to meet after you are done. Let them know they might have to pay for parking and food too.
5. Train for the race.
This is the most important thing to do! But, it’s often all we focus on once we sign up for a race so I put it last on the list. Now that you’ve registered and figured out where you have to get your bib and show up on race day you can spend some quality time logging miles on your feet.
Training preparation tips:
– Find a good training plan for your 5k / 10k / half marathon or full marathon.
– Adjust it if your race is sooner than your training allows. This might mean starting at week 2 of training OR getting a good base of running before starting the plan if your race is pretty far out.
– Find the right running shoes, clothes and fuel for your body. This is part of the training process.
RER Training Plans:
HAVE FUN!!!! Unless you are a professional runner going for the 1st place cash prize – this isn’t your job. Have fun, enjoy the training. Take in all the fun and excitement of race day!
P.S. – Check out my post on Women’s Running – 15 Things Runners Who Love Food Understand