You should have seen this post coming.. Yes, I really participated in my official first race three weeks ago on 15th July 2018, a date to never forget. In my article about how running has changed my life I have already hinted that I was going to participate in official running races. So how did I feel about this first official run? Do I recommend this to anyone who is intending to do the same? Most importantly, what are the learnings I haven taken away from it for future runs?
It was a run of 10k in Noordwijk, a seaside town in The Netherlands. Although during my running trainings I usually take a parcours of 12,5k non-stop, 10k at the race still felt different because of factors such as emotion, excitement, and the accompany of other runners.
Also, as runner you are always dependent on the weather circumstances. This is not any different during the official running race. Normally the summer in The Netherlands is mild. This year’s summer season was different as it was characterised by several weeks of sunny and hot weather. The day of the race felt in the period proceeding the heat wave that was coming our way at the end of July.
I run together with my colleague & friend, who has already done many competitions before. We were prepared for the hot weather conditions by putting a solid layer of sunscreen on and wearing lightweight running gear. The start sign was given at 11:14 am, the moment when the sun was high in the sky. I could already feel the sweat dripping over my face, without even starting to run. From the boulevard we run passed the town centre, the residential area, cycle paths and circled around the dunes to be back to the start again. It was amazing to feel the ground below my feet changing, from paved country lanes to sandy dune paths. This has also made the challenge level varying all the time. During the run itself I felt many emotions and a lot of thoughts went through my mind. The most beautiful was to see other fanatic runners going for it as well. Especially when my energy level has reached a low point, I found my courage in the beautiful view and people surrounding me. They include my sweet sister, fellow-runners and inhabitants standing on the side of the road to encourage the runners. At the end, I am so happy to have finished my first run within 1 hour with an exact time of 58:04. My first PR is set and I am so thrilled to build from there.
Whether this sounds strange or not, I felt like I turned into a completely different person after the run. I have gained a lot of insights and learnings with the following being the most important ones:
- It is tempting to give all you have at the start. Try not to do this, but rather aim to equally divide your energy over the whole race and keep your speed constant. The best is when you have saved up enough energy for the sprint to the finish.
- Do not be goaded by the speed of other runners. The most important is to run at a pace you feel the most comfortable with so that you can successfully finish the complete course. The way I see the run is that it is my own race in which I only compete with myself and the fellow-runners are there to motivate me.
- Try to always keep your back straight during the run. I felt there was a moment, almost at the end, at which I tended to bend my body to the front. Although that might feel less tiring, it actually can exhaust you even more.
- Enjoy the process. If you do this, it will be easier for you to keep on going no matter how tough the run gets. When your feet feel like giving up, let them be guided by your heart and keep moving.
- Keep hydrating yourself during the whole run. You can take your own water bottle with you. At most of the runs, there are also stands present that provide drinking water. It does not harm to take a few seconds break to grasp yourself a cup of water. It really gives you that extra boost that helps you to go strong and run even faster.
- Do not forget to focus on your breathing techniques. The best is to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. This way, you improve your oxygen intake while running.
- Just as with a normal running training, it is important to do some stretching exercises beforehand. This is to minimise the chance of getting injured. That is also why I usually aim to arrive at the running location at least 15 minutes earlier than the start time.
Are you waiting for some extra encouragement to participate in an official race? Well, here it is! Go give it a try and do not forget to enjoy it to the max.
Until next time!