January 13th, 2011
121 notes ·

So, You Wanna Run a Race? YAY!!

There are five questions I constantly receive via email and messages:

  • How Can I Become A Runner?  (For my answer, please see, “So, You Wanna be a Runner?”)
  • Help! I’m running a race, what do I do? (I’ll attempt to answer this question below, in a short post, that turned into an ESSAY!)
  • How can I lose weight? / How do you stay motivated?(coming soon, although… umm yes… I am so not qualified to help here, but I think I’m onto the top secret code! [hint: eat less, move more]) And finally,
  • How Can I Get People To Read My Blog/ Get More Followers?(also, coming soon, however this too will be a doozy for me, but I’ll tell you what I like in my fav blogs… as I read billions. Billions!)



  • Well, as y’all probably know, I’m not a guru in anything in life, running races included, so please (please!) take into consideration I’m just a tubby lassie, who one day signed up for a 5k (Big. Deal. Whoa), and then somehow ran 18 races in the next 22 months, including 2 full marathons. So yes, please keep in mind this is all from my personal experience.

Signing Up!

  • This is the first step of the (super awesome) race process, and the most important.  I remember signing up for a 10k race, clicking “submit,” and then FREAKING OUT.  But, just do it, don’t think, do it – NO MATTER YOUR SIZE. I ran my first 5k at 180 pounds.  Running is not a skinny person’s sport, which I think is why I like it so much; you only ever compete against yourself. 
  • American? Active.com
  • Canadian? RunningRoom.com
  • Other? Google Google Google it!

Finding a schedule

  • The Internet is your bff when it comes to finding a race schedule.  When I signed up for my 5k, 10k, and ½ marathon I literally googled, “5k/10k/Half Marathon Training Schedule”and voila! The Internet gods pulled through and I found all sorts of magical schedules.
  • The best 5k Training Guide I’ve seen is Couch to 5k, which will do just that, get you from the couch to a 5k!  
  • The biggest thing I’d note is “too much, too fast” is no good, slow n’ steady wins the race and will get you to the finish line injury free!  Make sure you have days off on your schedule, I ran 4 days a week for my first ½ marathon, and it seemed to work out well.
  • Once you’ve found a schedule, excel that baby, print it up, stick it to everyone and everything! Mine was on my wall at work, on my fridge at home, this blog etc. Out of sight, out of mind, so make sure it’s everywhere, and put a big ‘X’ through each complete run – so satisfying.    
  • Schedules aren’t set in stone. So if you miss a run (hey, people are busy, important, and lazy) don’t quit, just rearrange that week, swap days around to suit your schedule.  And I promise you, there is someone busier than you running right now.

Cross Training

  • What the bollocks is cross-training, you ask? It’s simply doing another physical activity on days you don’t run. This *is* recommended for runners, however I never cross trained until I was up around the 30k (20 mile) distance, and even then I sucked at it (boo to being indoors at the gym).  However, yoga, spin class, elliptical, swimming, Frisbee… the list goes on, lots of activities to spice up your physical activity life.
  • Conclusion. This helps, I don’t do it, I should, I’m going to try, I still crossed the finish line without it. It has potential to be awesome and help.


  • Well, if you’re like me, you want to look sexy as hell while running. O.k., that’s a huge lie, I pretty much just want to blend in while running… if I could run dressed up as a tree, I would.  I was one of *those* people who refused to go for a run, as I didn’t want to be the cliché fat person running to lose weight, but y’know what? I ended up sucking it up, wearing whatever I could find, and doing it, and as it turns out, nobody was watching.  
  • Come race day (as this is a post on races), do not (and I can’t emphasize this rookie mistake enough) do NOT run in something new.  Oh hells no… because the last thing you want to happen, is the evilness, that is, chaffing, to occur.  Wear the same shoes, the same pants, the same socks, the same, underwear, the same bra, the same everything that you’ve worn thousands of times. NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY.  
  • Also, apparently it’s bad luck to wear the official race shirt the day of the race – as you haven’t yet earned it, and it’s an obvious clue to newbie runners during races. So, cross that finish line, and then party hardy that night in your earned shirt (ps I’ve run lots of races in my race shirts, and didn’t fall on my face, but it still breaks the #1 rule of races – nothing new!)


  • I hate the technical stuff about running and my body. Seriously, electrolytes what? BUT, after running my 2ndhalf I finally bought into the whole, “replenish your electrolytes (energy things in your bod-ay) as you run” thing. During marathons this will be crucial in preventing “hitting the wall.”
  • Truth be told, I don’t know much about this point, and I never drink Gatorade or eat food up until 20+miles/30k+ runs.  I ran my ½ s only with water and never ate anything. But, I do believe Gatorade makes a difference for long runs, and what I do know is this…
  • Start out with water during the run, and switch about ½ way through.  Do NOT drink water and Gatorade together, that defeats the purpose as you’re diluting the Gatorade.
  • After switching to Gatorade, do not switch back to water, your body will be expecting Gatorade, and be all like, what the bollocks is this H20 stuff?  On this note, no “diet” Gatorade/sports drinks either – you need all the calories you can get.
  • I HATE gels, but after about the ½ marathon distance, I take them (actually gummies, I hate gels that much) twice an hour.  I have no clue if they help, but they give me peace of mind I won’t die, and peace of mind is sometimes all one needs during a race.

 Food before the run

  • People often gain weight while running, because, well, they went for a run, and now can eat whatever they want, right? Wrong.  Please see my archives about running TWO marathons and not dropping a pound (I actually GAINED). 
  • At the end of the day, it’s calories in vs. calories out.  I learned this the hard way, but honestly, you don’t get to eat that much more because of a 5k run (or even 10k – 20k. SAD)  Once you get up to longer distances, however, a big delicious carb dinner is absolutely justifiable (it actually helps!) the night before a long run. 
  • The morning of my long runs I would eat an oatmeal packet, but I know lots of people like bananas as they’re good on tummies.
  • The night before your run, do NOT eat anything new, make the same pasta you always made.  This goes for breakfast the morning of too.


  • What the bollocks is tapering? I remember having no idea what this was, when I started running, so (and this is my definition, in my words) it’s pretty much after training for a ½ marathon or marathon your body starts to ENJOY the runs, whether you do, or don’t, so the idea of tapering is to wind DOWN your training the 2 weeks before a marathon in the hopes of getting your body to “crave” a run.  Reducing your distances and reducing your speed also ensures your body is fully rested for the big day, and ready to give it, it’s all! 
  • No need to taper for distances less than 30k (in my opinion)

 Goal Times

  • First run? Make it to finish! That’s the beautiful thing of the first 5k, 10k, ½ marathon or marathon. No time to beat.
  • After that, challenge yourself a little. Set three goals. A: HOLY CRAP I AM DA BOMB AND WILL CRY IF I GET THIS. B: Awesome!! C: Still good! I’m not disappointed. Wahoo! I ran it.
  • And remember if you don’t hit a goal time, there’s always another race! And seriously, going from point A to point B is the only thing that really matters.

Night Before

  • Sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep, SLEEP.  I got screwed on this (because I’m an idiot) the night before the Las Vegas Marathon, which lead to being physically and mentally exhausted.  Sleep can make or break the run.
  • I’ve also heard that most people are too excited/nervous the night before a marathon, and hardly sleep, so the 2nd night the run is also crucial!
  • Be organized.  Being in a hurry (re: Ben the morning of the lL marathon – couldn’t find his time chip) is SCARY. Have your bib pinned on, have your time chip on your shoe, everything laid out, a checklist (don’t forget bodyglide!) etc. this will make you (or at least me) more relaxed

 Morning Of (eeek!!)

  • It’s the big day, your day! So ENJOY it, have FUN! Breath, relax, take it all in!! You’ve worked hard, all is said and done, so enjoy it! Walking is not failing, the majority of the world will NEVER do what you’re doing, feel special, you ARE special. Be proud!

If you think I’m out to left field on anything or missed something, please feel free to comment! I really don’t want to guide anyone in the wrong direction. Hopefully something here, helps someone, anyone out there!

Happy Running, E 

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    I’m running a 5k February 12th…and I just realized that I’ll probably be doing more walking than running because I’ve...
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Welcome! I'm Liz, the girl relieved the Internet has 0 calories. South African by birth; Canadian on paper. A marathoner. CrossFitter. Paleo (somewhat) eater. Traveler. Cheese lover. And I think you're great!

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