4 Essentials for Running Your First Race

You registered for your first race – congratulations! Maybe one of your friends convinced you to join them. Maybe you were inspired from a TV show or article. Whatever the reason might be, you took the plunge! So let’s narrow down the “essentials” you’ll need for your first race!


Shoes are your most important piece of equipment. It’s time to visit your local running shop and speak with a qualified sales person. They’ll ask about your experience, goals, mileage, races, injury history, and other questions to help guide you toward a pair of quality shoes that best match your needs.

Your shoes are the link between you and the ground. Take care in deciding on a pair and don’t shortchange yourself.

Clothing and Gear

Most running clothes are often made from high tech fabrics. At first glance these may appear expensive; however, the materials help wick moisture away from your body, which helps you stay comfortable on your run.

Running gear serves a practical purpose – it helps keep your body warm, cool, or dry depending on conditions. And as with shoes, your local running store professional can help you pick the right clothing for your running style.


Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” answer. Assuming your first event is a 5k or 10k, a good goal would be to run at least 3 days per week leading up to your race. This will allow your body to adapt to the stress of running and time to recover between runs.

One run is typically the “long run” for the week and is the most important. Over time you should build up to running at least the race distance (3-6 miles). The other runs during the week can be shorter, with the main goal becoming more comfortable on your feet and allowing your body time to adapt.


Begin each run hydrated and fueled. Part of your pre-race practice will be learning how much food you can tolerate and how far in advance of running you must finish eating to avoid stomach problems. Some people experience stomach distress if they eat solid food within 1-2 hours or more of running. You want to stay hydrated during your run, but excess water can often give side aches.

Congratulations on entering your first race. This is the first of hopefully many, so enjoy the process and have fun. You won’t be an expert right away, so don’t pressure yourself. Prepare as much as you can for the first race, learn from it, and you’ll likely be even more excited for the next one!

Photo credit: U.S. Army Korea (Historical Image Archive)

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