For the last few months I have been training for my first 5K using the Couch to 5K program. This past weekend I finally reached my goal and participated in my first ever 5K—Sgt. Keith A. Ferguson 5k Run/Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
As a novice runner, I was nervous and worried about anything and everything in the days leading up to the race. Should I eat the morning of the race? If so, what? Am I drinking enough water? Should I run the night before to prepare or will that just burn me out? And is wearing a running skort completely inappropriate or refreshingly stylish?
After consuming several running articles and consulting forums (thanks Google), I learned the go-to answer was "it depends on the person." Nevertheless, I did pick up a few general tips for making your way to the finish line:
- During training, focus on breathing properly and maintaining correct running posture. If you do it right from the get go, you’ll be thankful later.
- If you're feeling nervous, do a short 20-minute jog the day before. Otherwise, rest before the race to prevent being sore the next day.
- Don’t skip breakfast the day of the race—eat something light like a banana or bagel.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids the days leading up to the race.
- Condition your sleeping schedule two or three days before the race. Adjust your sleeping habits in advance so that you'll be ready on race day.
- Get to the venue as early as possible to avoid pre-race jitters. Warm-up to ease any nerves.
- Keep a steady pace. Remember, after the first mile you have another 2.1 miles to go.
- Focus on your goal and have faith that you can (and will) get to the finish line.
The night before, I went to bed early as instructed (after downing a few glasses of water), ate a bagel the next morning, and found my way to the starting line with plenty of time to spare.
Standing at the starting line with the over 900 other racers, I was feeling pumped and ready to go despite having to be up about four hours before my usual Sunday wake-up time.
It felt like an eternity, but finally we were off. Making my way across the Brooklyn Bridge and back, I kept a steady (slow) pace for the most part. As racers would pass by, people cheered them on, motivating me to keep moving forward.
Before I knew it, I crossed the finish line.
I wasn’t anywhere near placing in the top 10 or even the top 100, but I’m proud to say I finished...and I did it in my running skort.