What is your Problem??? September 2013: Advice for a First Race


Dear What Is Your Problem,

@Emma_Morgan here from twitter. I follow you on twitter and you follow me. I’m the one doing the 10k run for East Anglian Air Ambulance.

This is what I call my “First” proper race (like my first day at school) and I was wondering if you could give me a few tips for a few days before the race. I’m proper nervous and I know I wont eat etc …. on race day or drink the right drinks. Its a 10.21am start … any tips or help would be good also do I run the week leading up to the race?

Hi Emma

There are a few dos and don’ts when it comes to racing, especially if this is your first time, so it’s just as well you came here for advice.


  • DO question the mental wellbeing of any race organiser who chooses such a specific start time.
  • DO allow plenty of time to get there – the last thing you want to be doing is rushing around on the day. Give yourself enough time to have a look around, get warmed up and generally settle into the atmosphere of the event. If you find yourself arriving with enough time to knit bobble hats for all of your fellow runners or design and build your own air ambulance, you might have got there a bit too early.
  • DO eat breakfast – porridge is always a good bet (but only if it’s part of your usual routine – see below). Have a light snack an hour before the race starts (such as an energy bar or a banana) and some water or a sports drink half an hour before.
  • DO be nice to the marshals.
  • DO enjoy it. By the time you get to the start line you’ve already done all the hard work in training. It’s time to reap the benefits.


  • DON’T try out anything new on race day. It’s not the time to be testing out unfamiliar shoes, gels, snacks or clothes. Stick with the kit that you’re used to and you’ll avoid the risk of unpleasant chafing, stomach upset or spontaneously-combusting shoes.
  • DON’T lose sight of your own pace. When the race atmosphere kicks in, it’s easy to forget yourself and get sucked along by quicker runners. This is fun for the first mile or two, and then very very very not fun when you’re trying to breathe through your ears for the rest of the race.
  • DON’T run a hard 20-miler the night before the race. The same also applies to getting a new tattoo on the sole of your foot or drinking a box-and-a-half of wine.
  • DON’T win. It’s your first ever race – that’d just be showing off.

I forgot an important one…

  • DO come back and tell us how you got on.

Folks, Emma is running this in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance. I’ve seen these people doing their stuff on many occasions, and the work they do saves lives on a daily basis. If you can spare a pound or two, please consider heading over to Emma’s just giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/runforamission


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