Tips on Running a First 15K

Drink water or electrolyte replacement drinks before you become thirsty.
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Successfully running a 15K requires practice, proper nutrition and reliable apparel and footwear. From beginners who compete to complete, to experts who aim to break a personal record, most successful racers practice effective pace management techniques, eat more carbohydrates pre-race, and use tried-and-true equipment. For the best possible results, learn the race route, and plan pace, diet, apparel and footwear well in advance of the big day.

Plan Your Nutrition Early

Daily Running Tips suggests that runners plan their meals a full week in advance of race day for optimal performance. Complex carbohydrates such as leafy green vegetables, whole grains and fruits provide ample calories that the body can easily convert to energy, helping endurance during the race; increasing dietary fat from dairy helps, too. Eat half a bagel or a slice of bread no later than 30 minutes prior to the race, otherwise your body will have difficulty running and digesting food at the same time. Both carbohydrates and protein aid sore muscles post-race -- essential for a quick return to your fitness regimen.

Apparel, Footwear and Hydration

Don't break out your new shoes and shirt on race day. Instead, use the equipment you've been training with all along; imagine the disappointment of dropping out of a race because your new sneakers gave you a painful blister five miles in. Wear breathable high-tech fabrics -- not cotton -- and hydrate along the route. Thirst is not an accurate indicator of hydration needs, so drink water or sports drinks as you train, and not for the first time on race day.

Training to Beat a Time

Beating a personal record requires restraint, not full-on speed training at every opportunity. While distance runners should train early and often for optimal performance -- at least three running days per week -- avoid reductions in performance by giving yourself ample recovery time. Strength training helps distance runners increase endurance and reduces the risk of overuse injuries. Increase your overall race time by slowly increasing pace; if you can run the last interval of a 15K training run faster than the first, you are practicing effectively.

Pace Tips

Seasoned distance runners suggest skipping the warmup run beforehand, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't warm up. Dynamic stretches such as high, straight-leg kicks, pulling the knees up to the chest and stretching quadriceps multiple times warm up muscles quickly and save energy; jumping rope for 100 counts helps, too. Use the first 5K of the race as your running warmup. This helps you maintain a steady pace, keeps you feeling energetic long through the halfway mark and ensures a strong finish.

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