15 Must-Know Tips on Training to Run Your First 15k

7. Don’t mess with cumbersome gadgets

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This day and age, there are technological gadgets for just about anything and everything. Everywhere you go people are connected to their phones, their tablets, their personal computers, their watches. The fitness world has become no different. However, some of those gadgets are actually pretty arbitrary and don’t do much more than get in the way. If you are going to try out a new gadget make sure it isn’t going to distract you from the run. And remember, race day is not the day to test out a new gadget.

8. Create a Killer Playlist–beforehand

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This is one mistake a lot of rookies make. When you get to the race time starts to move quickly. You get there and sign in an hour before but before you know it the anthem is sung and you are out of the gates. There are a lot of people at these races and often internet radio programs and instant playlists don’t work thanks to the cluster of people using their own data. If you are going to use your phone for music, make sure the music is downloaded onto your phone and your playlist is easy to access when you get to the race.

9. Get a running buddy

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The hardest challenges in life are always better when taken on with a friend. Find a running partner who you can workout with daily, and sign up for the race together. This way you’ll be able to motivate each other as you train together and you won’t have to take on such a long race all on your own.

10. Plan smaller milestones along the way

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Running your first 15k is a really big deal, but it is even a bigger deal if you have never run a race before. Instead of going into the race environment completely blind, sign up for a smaller race like a 5k to see what it feels like. This is a great way to keep up your training, too.

11. Mix up your running locations during training to be ready for anything

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A lot of race courses will take you in different places as you run—and sometimes this means off the road. Mixing up your training runs to include different surfaces will make your training more interesting and will give you additional comfort when the race takes you down a turn you might not have expected.

12. Try out different energy packs and have yours with you

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At one point during the race, on the tables where volunteers hand out water to all the runners, there will also be small packs of goo. This goo is actually really important to the long distance racer, as they hold a lot of nutrients and carbs to help you power through the last leg of the race without cramping. Just about all of these goos are gluten and dairy free and so are healthy for everyone, but they don’t all taste great. Try out a few on your own runs and decide what you like. Then, bring it with you in your pocket or armband so you aren’t dependent on what the race provides.

13. Maintain a steady pace start to finish

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In the excitement of the race it is easy to get caught up and run a whole lot faster than you typically do when on your own. This is exciting and you might do a PR for your first mile, or even your first 5k, but the speed will catch up with you. Race like you’ve practiced to set yourself up for a positive experience.

14. Look at a map and know the course

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Before heading to the race have a look at where the course is taking you. This will give you some added peace of mind as you are running. Being familiar with your environment eases the mental burden of a long race and frees up space in your mind to really enjoy the run.

15. Finally: Remember to smile

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At the end of every long race there is going to be a photo-op. It doesn’t matter if you duck for cover or run with your arms in the air towards the finish line, the camera will spot you and your bib number. Make the most of it and give yourself a smile for posterity. You just accomplished something major—enjoy it.