Fitness Articles

9 Helpful Tips for Your First Charity Race

Cross the Finish Line with Flying Colors

Page 1 of 4
Now that summer is mostly behind us and cooler temperatures are starting to drift in, the prime season for charity runs and walks begins. People of all abilities lace up their running and walking shoes and hit the pavement to raise money for many great charitable causes. If you’re a first-time race participant, you’re bound to have questions. Below are a few tips I've accumulated after running more than 60 races.

Dress for the Occasion
It is very important to overdress or underdress for your race. Most new runners will tend to overdress, which is usually worse than being underdressed. The reason? As you begin running, your core body temperature will begin to rise. In addition, you're contending with the ambient temperature, humidity levels, radiant heat from the running surface (usually asphalt), and direct sunlight. Many experts advise runners to dress as though it were 20 degrees warmer than the actual air temperature. For example, if the temperature at race time is 60 degrees, dress as though the temperature is 80 degrees. You may need to wear a jacket prior to the race (see "Pack Your Bag" below) if temperatures are cool, but be sure to remove it before lining up.

Pack Your Bag
Below is a list of many items you may wish to put in your running bag. Obviously, you won't run with all of these items, but they'll be helpful before and after your race. Feel free to include any additional items you may need before, during, or after your race. You can return your bag to your car or leave it with family and friends who are not participating in the event.
  • Your bib number (if picked up in advance) and four safety pins to secure it to your shirt
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat/Visor
  • Sunscreen
  • Band-Aids
  • Jacket and/or pants
  • Dry change of clothing
  • Water
  • Hand sanitizer (for use after the portable toilets)
  • Post-run snack
Carry Your ID
Always carry identification with you—even if you are participating with a friend or family member. Many walkers prefer to carry their IDs in a fanny pack (worn around the waist), while many runners prefer to wear popular bracelets or shoe tags (such as Road ID). Your identification should include your name, emergency contacts, and other essential information, such as drug allergies or pre-existing medical conditions. As a last resort, you can simply write your emergency contact information on the back of your bib or a piece of paper in your pocket. If you carry a cell phone, make sure you have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) entry in your cell phone address book. Emergency personnel are trained to look for that listing in cell phones.
Continued ›
Page 1 of 4   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Nancy Howard Nancy Howard
Nancy is an avid runner and health enthusiast. A retired pediatric nurse, she received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Texas Woman's University and is also a certified running coach and ACE-certified personal trainer.

Member Comments

  • Great article. I don't run because of my hip. - 8/29/2013 8:01:49 AM
  • It is very important to overdress or underdress. Yes, it does say that in the article. I'm pretty sure it should say to NOT. I had to go back and look at that twice. lol - 5/29/2013 2:08:45 PM
  • Great info! I wear a Road ID on my shoe...the kind with a pocket to hold my key, but I had not considered creating an ICE contact entry on my phone. As soon as I finished the article, I created one. - 5/17/2013 1:46:21 PM
  • Thansk for the great article. A few of my friends and I are planning to run a 5K in December and these are some great tips. I was sort of wondering what to pack/bring and I'm the kind of person who is always nervous about something til I do it at least once or twice. - 8/16/2012 9:58:44 PM
  • What a great article, Nancy! This will sure help anyone who is new to races. - 8/16/2012 8:16:17 PM
    20-25 minutes warm-up! Ha ha that is funny. I do not know if I would be able to run 48 minutes after that! - 11/28/2011 12:33:44 PM
  • Yeah to all of us getting rady to run our first 5ks! This was a great article, I saved it also! Good luck everyone! - 10/11/2011 12:42:59 PM
  • I am definitely saving this article. I am runing my first 5K in October, so I am sure it will come in handy! - 8/18/2010 7:56:06 AM
  • Thanks for this article. My first 5K is next Sunday and I found the tips very helpful. - 2/7/2010 7:02:43 PM
    wonderful article. full of good ideas, I am doing a 5k charity walk in a few weeks and I'm so glad I came across this advice. Jill - 1/30/2010 2:01:50 PM
  • Nice article, but I stopped running YEARS ago because I felt it was bad for my knees. - 1/30/2010 12:47:59 AM
  • I am running a day after Thanksgiving 5K for a local Hospice organization. Anyone have any experience or suggestions concerning getting through the big feast day knowing that there is a race the next day? Foods to pay special attention to include or avoid? I appreciate any insight anyone may have. - 11/17/2009 9:09:54 AM
  • Nice how-to Nancy! Wish I'd had this on my first race.
    Keep in mind that any layers you wear that you might want to take off during the race should be something you're willing/able to tie around your waist or carry. (The sleeveless overshirt doesn't work well for this reason). - 11/17/2009 8:38:51 AM
  • Love it, this inspires me on. Not only will I use this as a personal , but I will use it as a team challenge for the coming new year. Thank you for all you do.
    Nancy - 11/17/2009 4:19:14 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by August 5! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.