Miss Reggie was such a great student, and I was such a lousy instructor, she Googled runner’s tips. Damn. Why didn’t I tell her all that stuff? I suck.
***Disclaimer*** These are my own opinions I’ve gathered over years of running in races.
- Remember Miss Michelle harasses me about the race day shirt? Do you wear it on race day? Okay…you can. Sure. Here’s why most people don’t. First, you look like a newbie. Standard rule is you should earn the shirt before you wear it. Second, it’s considered bad luck. And third, you should never wear brand new clothes for a race. You don’t know if there will be a seam that causes chafing and it will torment you the whole time. If it’s a 5k? Do what you want. If it’s a half marathon? I wouldn’t. You can really decide for yourself, at this point, no one really judges anymore. Except me. I’ll totally judge Michelle. 😉
- Bandit a race. Don’t do it. You didn’t pay for it. There is enough congestion on the road and they didn’t account for you for fuel, water stops, etc. And for heavens’ sake don’t take a medal. So wrong. Just don’t do it.
- Run under someone else’s bib. Hm. This is a tricky one. You’re going to have to go with your own morals here. I’ll do it. I can’t stand wasting $100. I would way rather give my bib to someone than see it wasted. Make your own choice there but be aware you risk being banned from the races.
- Porta potties. This is tricky. There is a courtesy issue here. There are frequently multiple lines. You need to pay attention to the direction the lines are going and make sure you take turns with the other line. And check to make sure the lock is green for clear!
- Lining up in the corral ~be realistic. If you are a walker, be courteous and stick to the back so the runners don’t have to weave and bob to get past you. You’ll have a better experience, too.
- I’m a fan of headphones. I wear them so I don’t judge people that do. That being said, you must be aware of your surroundings. I don’t turn them on until the race starts so I can hear the announcements and I try to keep the sound down or I pull one headphone out so I can hear people around me. Pay attention.
- Spitting. Randomly…I’m not a spitter. But a lot of people need to and that’s okay. Please please move to the side or at the very least check to make sure you are clear before you spit. This last race I almost got spit on twice in the span of one minute. That’s the first time in my racing history and I really didn’t enjoy the close calls.
- If you’re running with friends…man. That’s a tough one. Please be courteous and run just two abreast. You can always switch it up but when you run with more it really blocks the path and it’s very frustrating for people trying to pass. As before, be aware.
- If you are passing…say “excuse me” or “on your left”. Let me say this…most of the time in races it’s eat or be eaten. There’s all this bobbing and weaving and people know you are going to be passing them. But if you are super close or bump them…be polite. Excuse yourself. Let them know you are there.
- Do NOT judge other runners. You don’t know anyone’s story so people running or walking the 5k could have been working just as long and hard as the people who trained for the marathon. Except what their wearing. You can judge that… 😉 Just kidding! No hate mail! Only love I swear. I’m always super impressed by the range of people out there running. Kicking my ass, I might add. Amazing. You never know who is going to be fast as hell. Don’t judge. That person will probably totally smoke you.
- Water stops/aid stations. Water and an electrolyte drink (like Gatorade) is usually offered. They will announce which is which as you’re running. It’s easier for the flow of traffic if you don’t take the first drink. Keep moving, move to the side and get a drink further down. As you take a drink you can squeeze the cup a little and use it as a funnel and it helps to keep it from spilling while you’re running. It’s also not a race killer to walk through the water stops. It’s very common and I personally wear less of my drink. Toss the cup to the side, not directly down so there’s less chance of slipping. I prefer to toss mine in the actual trash. I know, right? But sometimes there isn’t one. So toss it, the race officials really do clean up afterwards. I promise.
- Thank the volunteers. They are actually volunteering. I am obscenely polite (Reggie makes fun of me endlessly but I don’t mind) so I thank the random police officer if I get a chance and I totally high five the little kids.
- Please please please don’t suddenly stop on the course or. If you have to walk or need to stop move to the right side of the course so the runner behind you doesn’t smack into you. Disconcerting for everyone, trust me. Plus it can make for grouchy runners. 😉
- Dress for 15* warmer than what the weather says the temperature is. If it’s cold…pick up some throwaway sweats at Goodwill for a few dollars that you can wear until the start. Once it starts you can literally…throw them to the side (never on the course) and the officials will pick up the many tossed items of clothing and donate them to…guess where. Yep…Goodwill. It’s the circle of life.
- Half marathon and marathon races are going to require some fuel on the course. You’re going to find yourself running on empty and some races don’t offer anything but the water and electrolyte drinks. Test out some different fuels during your training so you don’t have any surprises on race day. Gu, Honey Stingers, Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish…these are all popular options that work well. Usually start taking them at the hour mark and maybe every two to three miles after.
- Sometimes a runner can get some terrible runners cramps resulting in … um… trips to the restroom. Or… the bushes, God forbid. Immodium before a race is your friend. It has a lot of success among runners. I suggest a test “run” before a race maybe during one of your long runs to see how it goes.
**Updated** Sixteen! That’s not a bad number. I reserve the right to add more if I need to. It’s a basic list but I think it covers a lot.