I generally do a nice walk/jog 20-25 minutes prior to the start. Don’t feel the need to run hard; you want to save that energy for your race. One of the tricks I use is to run/walk the course starting at the finish line and going out approximately 400 meters (a quarter mile) before heading back to the start. The advantage to doing so allows you to see if there are any obstacles, such as hills, curves, etc. at the end. In addition, once you hit that point on the course during the actual race, you know you are almost to the end.
Only after you have done a nice warm-up should you do some light stretching.
Run Your Race
Race anxiety is quite common. But that extra burst of adrenaline works to a runner's advantage. If the event you are participating in allows for runners and walkers, you may want to line-up mid-pack. This will allow you not to be pulled into a faster runner's pace or have to dodge walkers participating in the event.
Start your pace much slower then you feel you should and then allow for a gradual pick up in pace as the race progresses. Once the field thins out, you can then choose a pace that you can comfortably hold for the remainder of the race. If you find yourself running too fast, slow your pace or add a nice walk until you are ready to pick up your pace again.
Many runners prefer running in the middle of the road as there is less sloping than you'll encounter along the curb, but you'll run farther than if you run near the curb. Running close to the curb and cutting corners is not considered cheating as International Amateur Athletic Federation-IAAF and USA Track & Field sanctioned races are measured using the shortest route available for most runners.
Most events generally provide at least one, sometimes two, water stations on a 5K (3.1 mile) course. Feel free to stop and drink at the water station or to pick up cups of water and continue running if you're concerned about making a good time. I believe the biggest anxiety for most new runners is the fear of being the last one across the finish line. Regardless of your finishing time or placement, know that you just accomplished something that many people never had the courage to do.