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5 things to take away from your first race

Use these takeaways from your first race to crush your second

Photo by: Maxine Gravina

Congratulations on finishing your first race! After training for months on end, crossing your first finish line can be incredibly rewarding. But where do you go from here? And what can you learn or take away from your first race?

The Halifax Road Hammers race at the Valley Harvest Marathon in Nova Scotia. Photo: Instagram/hfxroadhammers

Instead of stressing over what’s next, check out these five helpful takeaways from your first race to help you crush your second.

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself

No matter how your race went or what place you finished in, be proud of your result. You are your own worst critic, and you are the only one who will remember your result a month from now. There’s no need to be too hard on yourself, especially on your first one, so stay positive and look to improve in the next race.

2. Soak in your achievement

One thing many runners will say after a race is, “at least you got out there and ran.” It means you can be proud of yourself and own the moment. The finish line can be rewarding in many ways: it could mark the end of a hard journey, achieving a goal or accomplishing something you never thought was possible. Every achievement needs to be celebrated, no matter the circumstance. Celebrating with one of your favourite foods, desserts or an ice-cold beverage can always provide a little bit of extra motivation mid-race.

3. Find your pace

Pacing yourself for any distance can be tricky; even many veteran runners don’t master the art of pacing. It’s extremely easy to go out too swiftly in your first race: the nerves, adrenaline, and your legs feel fresh. Every runner has made this mistake once or twice and paid for it in the latter half of the race.

We aren’t saying you’ll master pacing by the time you do your second race, but the pacing in your first race should give you an idea of what you did right and where you went wrong.

4. Live and learn

Like anything, the more races you do, the better you’ll get at performing well on the day. Ask yourself questions about how you prepared for the race. Did you get enough rest the day before? Or did you consume enough food to give you fuel to perform?

The best way to learn is by trial and error, and simply by doing more races. Another way is to ask other, more experienced runners to share their tips on how they prep for races and the things they do to make sure everything goes OK.

5. Set short-term goals

You did it! Now that you’ve completed your first race, welcome to the ‘run-ternity’. Take what you learned from your first race and apply it to your training for the next race. The perks of getting the first one out of the way is you now know what to expect and where you can improve for your next one. Set realistic short-term goals, like running a personal best, or running the race without walking, or trying to correct an easy mistake you made in your first race (i.e., showing up to the race 45 minutes early, so you have time to use the washroom and do a warmup).