You're running your first 10k, putting yourself out there for a total of 6.2 miles, and you're not sure what to expect. You've been training, eating right, and getting into great physical shape in preparation for the race. Actually running a competitive 10k over a wide range of terrain for the first time can be intimidating. It doesn't need to be, however, if you know what to expect and plan accordingly. The following discusses what you can expect from your first 10k, some obstacles you may encounter, and some tips to help you run a great race.
Make a Plan
Before the race even starts you'll need to be well prepared. You should walk or bike the course a day or two before the actual race if possible. You'll get a mental picture of the course and be able to plan your run according to the elevations, bends, etc. that you'll encounter throughout the race. On the day of the race arrive early so you'll have time to stretch or use the restroom if necessary. Lines in front of the port-a-pots can get long. Finally, don't wear anything new on the race day. The last thing you want is chafing or blisters from new apparel that isn't broken in yet.
The First Mile
The speed at the beginning of a 10k will vary from race to race. But there will likely be a certain amount of chaos as soon as the gun goes off. More experienced runners will be attempting to get a good position at the start so they can set their pace. The first mile of the race is when everyone will be packed in tight. You'll need to watch for other runners so you don't get jostled or elbowed. If it's raining, parts of the road like paint stripes can be slippery. Most important, don't start out too fast for your first race. Your adrenaline will be surging, but resist the urge to race to the front of the pack and run the risk of burning out during the last few miles.
The Second and Third Mile
After the first few miles the packed-in crowd that was there at the beginning should have thinned out and you can settle into your own pace. You'll need to listen or look for your time at the end of mile one. Do some mental calculations to see if you're running according to plan. By the halfway mark a lot of people will get a mental boost at this point. You'll be thirsty but try not to drink too much water during the race. Low blood sodium can occur if you're drinking too much liquid.
The Last Half of the Race
This is the point where you may start to drag. You'll likely be fatigued at the four mile point but you've still got a fair amount of the race left to go. This may be the point in the course where you'll want family and friends who come out to encourage you to be stationed. Some runners advise not to drink anymore water by the fifth mile in the race. The last mile is when you want to give everything you've got left so you can finish strong. In general, you'll want to go faster during the last half of the race. This is why pacing yourself the first few miles is so crucial. Finishing your first 10k is quite an accomplishment and will be exhilarating. Consuming some calories and completing a sufficient cool down is crucial after the race.