Guest Post: Training For Your First Race

Happy Friday everyone! Since I am in Cape Cod today relaxing before a full weekend of RRCA training, I have Chrissy from Pink Polish and Running Shoes here to guest post! You would never know she is a newbie racer, but she’s here to explains some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” of getting ready for a first race. 

 Chrissy_5K (2)

 Hi, I’m Chrissy and I blog over at Pink Polish and Running Shoes . I’m very excited to be guest blogging for Lisa while she is training to be an RRCA certified coach. As a relatively new runner, I still have a lot to learn, but I thought I’d take this opportunity to reflect on training for my first race.

In early June, I completed my first 5K, The Ashland Trail Race. It was a great experience and I can’t wait to run my next one. I’m already working on improving my time. I’ve been running since high school, but I never “trained.” In other words, I didn’t worry about pace or increasing distance. I didn’t worry about time. I just ran because I enjoyed it with no specific goals in mind.

I always thought about racing, but I was worried I wasn’t a “serious” enough runner for that, but in March I gathered up my courage and signed up for a 5K. I had absolutely no idea where to start when it came to training. I just kind of figured it all out along the way and learned a lot in the process. Here are some of my “Do’s and Don’ts for training for your first race.

Do find a training plan: I used Hal Hidgeon’s novice 5K training plan, which I found through the Runner’s World website. I ended up adapting the plan because it was a little too easy. In the end, it looked more like his 8K novice program.

Don’t feel guilty about cross training: This is something I really struggled with at first. I felt like I needed to run everyday or I might somehow lose whatever gains I had made. This isn’t true and cross training has a number of benefits like promoting strength and flexibility while helping to prevent injury and burnout.

Do take a rest day. Again, don’t feel guilty. You’ve earned it and your body needs it. I’ve been told over and over that one reason new runners get injured is because they ramp up their miles too quickly and don’t rest. This is obviously more of an issue when you’re training for a much longer race than a 5K, but good habits start early.

Don’t be afraid of the outdoors: If there is one thing I really regret it’s how much running I did on the treadmill. I was too intimidated to run outside and leave my comfort zone: the gym. Now that I’ve been running outside consistently, I can honestly say there is no better way to do it. Treadmill running and outdoor running are very different. They may both have benefits, but if your race is outside then that’s where your training should be too.

Do have fun: Running is supposed to be fun. Don’t let the stress of training get in the way of enjoying something you love.

Don’t be nervous: Trust in all the hard work you did! Your training will get you where you need to be! 

Do arrive early on race day. You’ll want to figure out where to park, pick up your number, go to the bathroom and stretch before heading to the finish line. Don’t add stress by rushing around at the last minute.

Hopefully these tips will help any other new-ish runners out there. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Thanks so much, Chrissy! These are all great tips. 

Any other tips for newbie runners getting ready to run their first race?

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