Friday Five: Run a Strong First Race of the Year

It’s Friday, so I’m linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the new Friday Five 2.0. The topic this week is “Spring Fitness.” Since it snowed in Chicago and NYC this week, I am going to go off topic! Despite running road races for over 20 years, I still get nervous for my first race(s) of the year. So here are some tips to take the edge off!

Miles of smiles in 2016! Happy race. Happy place!

5 Ways to Run a Strong First Race of the Year

1. Set a realistic goal based on your winter training. Before you hit the starting line, think about your winter training. Were you able to train as well as you hoped? Did you miss training for other commitments, illness, weather? Was most of your training indoors? All of these things may play a role in your performance. Set an A and B goal based on the training you did, not last year or the training you planned on.

2. Start out at the pace you’re trained for… not at the pace you “want” to run. If you’re like me and run the same races each year, you may get caught in the “I run this half marathon in 1:xx or better” mindset. That’s great, but if you’re not trained for that pace, you could start too fast and bonk out. [This one is for especially for me for the NYC 1/2 Marathon this Sunday.]

3. Remember the “Why.” This is my 6th year in a row running the NYC Half for Alexandra’s Playground. I’ve had great races the last five. I try to remember that I’m running to support Alexandra’s Playground. This run is about more than me. I’m never going to win the NYC Half, but I know I can run strong and make a difference. Learn more and enter to win one of six great prizes HERE.

4. Stay positive. When the going gets tough, stay positive. My NYC 1/2 mantra is “my kind of race, my favorite place.” The weather may be tough this year, but I am grateful to run and any day I run in Central Park is a good day.

5. Smile! Smiling makes you feel better. You don’t have to trust me. Here’s the science and psychology.

Here are some great tips from Training Peaks, too!

How do you pump yourself up for your first race of the year? Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Have a great weekend!



  1. Coco says:

    Great tips! I had my first race two weeks ago, but this is the race I am excited about! I’m not worrying about the weather – the worse it is the more I will just have to make the most of it and run for fun. 🙂 What Wave are you in? I’m in 1/E.

  2. Have an awesome race! give nyc a cuddle for me

  3. Kimberly G says:

    Great tips! FYI – WeRunSocial is hosting a meet-up tomorrow @ 1pm at a bakery about a block away from the Pavilion (Details on my IG account). Hope you can stop by!

  4. Love your mantra for this weekend! I hope you have the best time! 🙂

  5. Jenny S says:

    One tip for the first race though that I learned the hard way—-Don’t mix Gatorade and Energy Gel. That’s a lot of sugar and can hurt your stomach. 🙁

  6. Deb E says:

    Staying positive and grateful are the best tips here. I am always very grateful when I’m not injured and can finish what I planned!

  7. Dana Rodriguez says:

    Great tips! I hope you have a great time. We visited New York about three weeks ago 🙂

  8. Marcia says:

    Wise words, my friend! I’m guilty as charged sometimes of defaulting in my head to paces I once ran but aren’t realistic for me now. The struggle is real. Have a great race and enjoy the weekend in your favorite place!

  9. Smiling always helps. There have been many a mile where I”m cursing the run, only to have a spectator shout out to me and make my smile. It always puts a pep in my step.

  10. Susan P. says:

    I like your tip of “Start out at the pace you’re trained for… not at the pace you “want” to run.” Good to keep in mind.

  11. San says:

    A great list!

  12. Amber Ludwig says:

    Wooo!! Such awesome tips!! I don’t run professionally because it gives me anxiety but maybe one day!!

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