What I Wish I Knew During my First Race

We've all been there. We've all been where you might be right now. Thinking back 6ish months ago when you decided to register for a race and now you are days away from your first race and you are thinking, "What the heck did I get myself in to?"

Everyone who has run a race before has been in your shoes. The doubt. The fear. The "Am I ready?" But just like your first time for anything, it takes running your first race to learn what needs to be done on your second, third, fourth, maybe even tenth! (Depends on how long you ride that post-runners high).

The good thing about your first race is that you don't need to beat your past record. This first race will be the best race yet! Keep that in mind when you cross the finish line. You just finished your first race! That is something to celebrate. No matter the struggles, how many times you needed to walk, or how fast/slow your pace may be. You crossed the finish line.

We asked a few our Gazelle Sports employees what they wish they knew before their first race. We hope some of these tips will help as you cross the finish line for your first time in the coming weeks!

Tip #1: Take It Easy.

"I actually can't remember my first distance race. It might have been Bayshore or maybe Chicago. But what I do remember is starting out the gate way too fast (every race for me, really, is a challenge to reign in my pace the first few miles). The excitement and push from others around you has the tendency to make you push your pace at the beginning, which often leaves you hurting the rest of the race. I often find myself threading quickly through the crowd, trying to get free of the crush of people, but I'm always better off just taking it easy and allowing my pace to be a priority and not the desire to break away from too many people. Definitely wish that I knew, or at least could make myself remember, to not start out a race too fast." Christina, Gazelle Sports Brand Team

Tip #2: Enjoy the Journey.

"My best advice to anyone running any race (or for life in general) is to enjoy the journey. The journey can be good, bad, ugly or anything in between, but there is always a lesson to be learned. While the journey itself may not always be easy or fun, it is necessary for our growth as a person." - Alyssa, Grand Rapids Assistant Store Manager

Tip #3: Be Prepared the Night BEFORE.

"Allow extra time race morning- You NEVER EVER know what might come up. Lay everything out the night before-FLAT ME." - Holly, Gazelle Girl Race Director

Tip #4: Get Your ZZzzz's

"Before my first race I wish I knew that the most important night of sleep is "the night before the night before!" Making good sleep habits is always important and most people think the night before your race is the most important, but you should really get a good night sleep two nights before. Also, it's hard to fall asleep the night before your first race with all the butterflies in your stomach!" - Katie, Gazelle Sports Northville

Tip #5: Make a "No Goal" goal.
Don't set too lofty of a goal for your very first race - if you do set one, it should be to finish! - Kellee, Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids

Tip #6: Avoid Rush Hour

Try to pick up your packet the day before the race. It is chaos in the morning to try to juggle packet pickup, gear check, bathroom needs, pre-race jitters, finding parking, etc. Take away extra stress and pick-up the packet beforehand! Also, trying to keep up with your much faster roommate at the beginning of the race is a bad idea. ;) - Molly, Gazelle Sports Holland

Tip #7: Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

"I wish I had known how important hydration is/was. And not just during the race, but in the several days leading up to the race. Trying to cram all your hydration into the 48 hours before the race just doesn't work. You really need to be hydrating all week long." - Kate, Gazelle Sports Birmingham

Tip #8: Bring Extra Shoes

"Bring comfy shoes or sandals to wear after the race! I was lucky that my first big race ended on a beach so my feet could air out and relax a bit, but when we left the beach it was awful putting on those shoes again! Not to mention if you wind up with rain or snow and your shoes get damp and cold it's the BEST feeling to put on dry socks and comfy, dry shoes.

I wish Oofos had been around during that first run - I'd probably have brought a pair of those! Recovery sandals would have felt amazing." - Kelsey, Gazelle Sports Brand Team

All in all, just have fun. We know that is easier said than done, but remember: You signed up for your first race for a reason. And more times that not, the reason is: because you want to. Have fun and enjoy it! You will feel incredible afterward.