15 tips to get you to the starting line of your first race!

Every runner that passes you on the course or on your training runs was once a beginner. If you’re reading this and you’re training for your first race, you might be a bit unsure of what you’ve gotten yourself into. Well, you’re in luck. Below you will find three tips to put into practice if you are a beginner runner training for your first race as well as proven advice from the Run Ottawa Community, which is made up of runners of all levels of experience.

Increase your kms safely

Don’t rush to add on distance. Adding mileage slowly will allow your body and mind to adapt to the physical and mental demands of training for your event. Consistency is key when it comes to training. It’s not about any one workout or long run, but rather the cumulative effect of putting in solid and consistent training that will prepare you for race day.

Your running experience and knowing what type of runner you are is important when determining your training plan. Be realistic about your fitness level. It’s easy to get wrapped up in what others are doing, but it doesn’t mean you should do it too. Know your limits, and if something hurts, stop running and get it checked out by a professional.

Did you know you get a free training plan from Runkeeper when you register for Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend? Find out more here.

Rest is important

Rest days are crucial to your recovery and will directly impact your performance when it comes to achieving your desired results on race day. When you’re training for an event like Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, you are putting in the work and can be pushing hard to get results. However, if you don’t prioritize rest and recovery, you can risk injury or burn out due to over-training. Your running will benefit by allowing your body to rest and recover, helping to bring your goals within reach.  

Warm up, stretch and recover properly to prevent injury

Warming up before a run can help prevent injury and prepare your muscles for your run. The “right” warm up is different for everyone. Some people prefer walking briskly, while others prefer active stretching such as walking lunges. Static stretches should be avoided before you run, as they can increase the risk of injury.

Runners are told that stretching can help reduce chances of injury, increase range of motion and improve running performance, and yet, stretching may still often be overlooked. Recovery is the downtime your body needs to adapt to your training and if you’re working on training hard, you should also be working on recovering well.

We asked the Run Ottawa community to share wise words and training tips for first-timers:

Be patient. Be consistent. Be thankful.

David Dazé

Most advice suggests for new runners to do a run/walk combo. Run for 2 minutes and walk for 2 minutes. Try that for a couple weeks to see how you feel. Then gradually increase the running time while decreasing walk time. Try not to focus on going fast. Find a pace where you can keep a conversation. That pace is where you should do the majority of your training. And find a comfortable pair of shoes. Many stores will have employees that are experienced and can help you choose the right pair for your feet.

Scott Robert Wren

Don’t compare your runs to others, make sure you have the right shoes, and switch up your routes so you don’t get bored.

Lynn Steele-Wood

Run slow and easy for most of your runs, choose realistic goals and make it fun! Try your best to take the pressure off and don’t compare yourself to a certain pace or runner.

Vanessa Silva-Roy

Run YOUR OWN race.

Gary Rush

Listen to your body to avoid injuries—it’s okay to miss a planned run. Set small achievable goals along the way. Have fun and enjoy your race!

Patricia Silva Roy

If you have the money, do a proper gait analysis to ensure you get the right shoes. Invest in the shoes, the rest of your kit doesn’t matter. Run YOUR race, do not try to compete with anyone else.

Tracy Shouldice

Don’t start out too fast, have fun and smile for the on course photographer!

Kristel Gauthier

If the professional race photo is good, spend the money on it because most race photos won’t be good! Put body glide on all the places for long runs – all year long. It’s ok to walk, it’s just slow running.

Suzanne Robertson

Train with a group, the support from other runners, some beginners, some more experienced, is invaluable. Manage your expectations, have a realistic idea of what you can do, and be prepared to adjust it if the conditions are sub-optimal. Plan to negative split – start slowly and get faster. It is a lot more fun to pass people at the end than have them passing you.

George Reid

The most important line that you’ll cross on race day is the start line. Your goal during training is to get to the start line healthy, and then enjoy your first race!

Warren Layton

Trust your training. Enjoy the race and since it’s your first, no matter what, it will be a personal best.

Dan Lacasse

Wednesday nights are the perfect opportunity to train with your Run Ottawa community! Join Mile2Marathon Coach Jake Cameron for weekly Mile2Marathon x Run Ottawa run workouts. Meet at Run Ottawa HQ (5450 Canotek Rd # 45) at 7pm for routes of varying distances and  afterwards head to Dominion City Brewing Co. for $2 off post-run pints.

All runners welcome! This weekly event is FREE for Run Ottawa members, and $5 for non-members.