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How to start racing

New to racing? Let Rob Watson show you how it's done

Runners run for all kinds of reasons: some for fitness, some to clear their heads and some to improve. If you’re the kind of runner who has always run for fitness or leisure but are interested in making the transition to competition, the move can feel a little daunting.
lululemon 10K. Photo: Maxine Gravina
Rob Watson is a global lululemon ambassador and a Mile2Marathon coach. Watson has now hung up his track spikes in favour of trail shoes and racing flats and he’s created a plan to help runners get into their first-ever race.
Photo: lululemon

Why should you race?

Watson says, “Everyone has their own individual reason for racing. Some people want to do it for the experience and some are looking for a personal best. I’ve never had a negative experience running a race.” If racing has been on your mind, you should give it a try. There’s truly no downside.

What distance should I race?

Watson recommends either a 5K or a 10K for your first race. “A big chunk of people can complete a 5K or a 10K. They’re approachable distances. If it’s your first race and it’s a good event, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish it, it just matters that you get it done.”

lululemon 10K. Photo: Maxine Gravina

What race should I do?

There are so many kinds of races you can do, so chose a race that excites you. There are charity races, experience based races and themed races. Pick one that turns your crank.

Set a goal

After choosing a race, set a goal for yourself for that’s realistic. Decide if you’re running to have the experience of racing or if you’re looking to run a fast time. From there, plan your training accordingly.

lululemon 10K. Photo: Maxine Gravina


In terms of training, Watson who’s a Mile2Marathon coach, recommends starting slow. “At some point in your training, it’s preferable to cover the distance of the race. Come race day you don’t want the distance to be something that’s in the back of your mind. You want to be confident that you can cover that distance so you can enjoy the experience of the race on the day of.”

Watson reminds that the most important aspect of training is maintaining health. “If you’re starting from scratch, you should be doing a walk/run. Run a minute, walk a minute and repeat. Start by building up to 20 minutes and once you muscles and joints get used to running then you can add more volume. You have to build slowly and patiently.”

Watson’s running goals

Personally, Watson is hoping to run one more sub 2:20 marathon, “I want to do it one last time.” His marathon personal best is 2:13:29 from 2013 and he’s not looking to get back into that kind of shape — but something similar. “I want to continue to run healthy and maintain a base level of fitness and then I can fine tune that fitness towards specific races. I want to try some of the longer stuff. But first, I would love to go under 2:20 one more time in the marathon.”