If you're an avid runner, entering races is a great way to push yourself and keep up running motivation.
There are so many races across the UK (and even further afield), including cool running challenges that can help you explore your favourite hobby. I've completed a few races since I first started running, including the Leeds Half Marathon and the Great North Run.
These races have given me something to work towards - and there's no better feeling than getting to that finish line with lots of other dedicated runners on the big day.
Running can often be a bit lonely, as it's pretty much a solo activity. Running races can add a bit of enjoyment to your fitness routine, and it gives you a chance to meet lots of friendly runners in a supportive, fun and adrenaline-packed environment.
My Top Tips For Your First Race
If you're a bit nervous about your first race, I can help! I've put together my top tips for your very first race. I'd love to hear all your racing and running experiences in the comments.
1. Organise your day in advance
If you're heading to your first race, make sure to organise everything before you get there. You may need accommodation for the night before or the night after if the race isn't nearby - and you'll also need to know how to get there.
Organising everything in advance can help you feel less stressed on the big day. You want to be able to focus all your mental capacity on the race ahead of you. Sort out your hotel reservations, train tickets, maps and race sign-up in advance.
When I ran the Great North Run, our hotel actually ended up getting cancelled at the last minute - but in the end, we managed to find another one that was actually closer to the finish line! It might feel a bit daunting, but it's a good idea to sort out any admin before you head to the race.
The race organisers should send you any relevant information about your race, such as where it starts and how to dress. Make sure to read any advice carefully so you know what you're doing on the big day.
2. Set yourself achievable goals
If you're getting ready for your first race, try setting yourself achievable goals for the big day. You might not meet all of your goals - and that's okay. But setting yourself targets can help you stay on track and keep up your motivation while you run.
As it's your first race, you might not get your goals exactly right but, if you run another race in the future, these goals will be a good gauge of what you can achieve.
It's also a good idea to set yourself goals while you train for the big day, as this can inform your training regime and keep everything on track for your first race.
3. Bring fuel for the journey
It's so important to bring all the fuel you'll need for your run. This includes nutritious vegan running snacks to get you ready for the race and any nibbles you want to carry with you while you run.
Everyone is different - and every race is different, too. When I ran the Leeds Half Marathon, I took some sugar-free gummy bears with me but I didn't actually end up eating them. Do your research beforehand and see what works for you when you're training.
It's also super important to make sure you stay hydrated throughout the race. As well as water, I like to have energy drinks while I run. The race organisers may also hand out hydration gel packets, too.
There will be plenty of people around to help you stay happy and healthy during the race, so make sure to take all the advice and support you're given while you complete this incredible achievement.
4. Start steady
Think about your pacing, especially when you first start your race. It can be so easy to get carried away and start sprinting straight away, but you don't want to burn out - especially if you're running a long distance.
The Great North Run was 13.1 miles - so I really had to pace myself. I wanted to keep to my usual 5K time of 35-40 minutes, as this would mean I would complete the race in under 3 hours. However, I made sure not to stress myself out about my pacing, as I wanted to stay in the moment and enjoy the experience.
When you're training for your first race, you'll be able to practice how you want to pace yourself on the big day. I really do recommend sticking to a training plan that works for you if you have a big race coming up.
5. Enjoy yourself!
Although it's great to set yourself goals, it's also important to enjoy your first race. You want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience - and it's a great opportunity to meet lots of other runners.
I've loved all the races I've done, including the Leeds Half Marathon and the Great North Run. There's something so exciting and supportive about the atmosphere at a race. It's also lots of fun to celebrate your victory once you finish.
You might not win and you might not reach your goals, but that's okay. It's all about the experience - and you're sure to get so much from every race.
Have you ever competed in a race? I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments!
Love, Sarah xoxo