Moving into your first marathon can be a difficult transition for a lot of new runners. There’s usually not much else to worry about when you are out for your easy morning jog, as it’s just you and the open road. However, when you enter your first race a number of external factors suddenly come in play, many of which can lead to embarrassing situations if you don’t know what you’re doing. The last thing you want to do is ruin someone else’s day because you didn’t know proper road race etiquette. Here are a few tips to help you make it through your first road race without incident.
It is a natural instinct for new runners to want to bolt off the starting line like they’re running the 100-meter dash in the Olympics. All of those long months of hard training have finally paid off and you are eager to get out there and show everyone what you can do. But hot-dogging it off the starting line with the rest of the leaders isn’t going to impress anyone. More likely, they’ll soon be able to tell that you’re not good enough to hang with them, and then you’ll have to endure the quizzical side-eye and over the shoulder glances as the rest of the field catches and then passes you.
Faster runners absolutely hate having to weave through a field of slower runners who shouldn’t have been up there in the first place. You can go quickly from leading the race to being known as “that guy,” which is someone you don’t want to be. Maintain the race pace you came up with in training and don’t worry about how fast the other runners are. You’re doing this for you not them.
On a golf course, it’s considered good etiquette to let faster players pass you. The same can be said for running. If you hear footsteps coming from behind you and you were not actively racing against this individual, move to the side and let them pass. If running with others, always try to stay no more than two people across, lest you make it difficult for others to get ahead of you.
If you are lucky enough to start passing people, never ram yourself through a human barricade. Wait and pick your spot, and if necessary, call out “On the left!” or “Track!” to let those ahead know that you wish to pass.
When you approach an aid station for water, make eye contact with your chosen volunteer. Consider holding your arm out toward them for the handoff long before you get there, so there are no misunderstandings with the runners coming right behind you. Most importantly, never stop to drink along the length of the aid station itself. Continue running until you are past all of the volunteers and can slow down to a walk on the side. A runner that unexpectedly stops can cause a major collision. If you do not require any aid or water, stay to the opposite side of the road. Oh yeah, and maybe check to see what’s in the cup before you decide to pour it over your head.
You did it. You finished your first race. As excited and tired as you may be, it’s important to remember that there is still a race going on right behind you. As with the aid station, coming to a sudden stop at the finish line can create a disaster for those sprinting to the line. Run through the finish line and give your timing chip to a volunteer before you decide to collapse. Don’t forget to thank the volunteers for their efforts as well. Almost all road races around the world would be nearly impossible to organize without the selfless efforts of these people.
Successfully navigating your first road race doesn’t have to be an embarrassing endeavor if you just take the time to be aware of your surroundings and remain considerate of those who are running around you. But if you do make a mistake, don’t sweat it. You’ll learn from the experience and probably look back one day and laugh.
By signing up you agree to receive email alerts from TrendBahn. You can unsubscribe at any time.