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4877 Views 12 Replies Latest reply: May 30, 2009 12:32 PM by pacificfit
prattguy Rookie 3 posts since
May 29, 2009
Currently Being Moderated

May 29, 2009 8:37 AM

First ever race etiquette/process


Hi everyone.  I'm a 35 year old male who has been on the treadmill for the past year and finally am venturing out to run my first race tomorrow (competitive 5K).  I have a ton of questions regarding racing and etiquette and thought this may be the best place to get some help.  Thanks in advance for any help you can give.



First, about me.  I've only been running for the past year (and all on the treadmill at my apt complex, for reasons that I won't get into here) and have never really just gone outside and ran on my own.  I'm a former athletic trainer and currently finishing my phd in exercise science, so the issues aren't really with training but rather with transferring from a treadmill to actual running.  I'm extremely competitive with myself, in that I always try to beat whatever my prior finish was, either by finishing 1 second faster, running 0.1 miles further, or 0.1 mph faster; if I don't accomplish that I tend to get pretty down on myself.  I finally got the nerve up to just sign up for a race; therefore as a result of my competiveness I know I'll be trying to run to win or at least place high in my age bracket.  So, understanding my situation a little better, what can you offer regarding the following:



I've gotten to the point where I can sustain 8.5 mph for 35 minutes on the treadmill.  However this is obviously at a pace set by the treadmill, not by "me".  Has anyone had difficulty in mentally setting a race pace if used to the pace set by a treadmill?  Any suggestions for overcoming this?  I was guessing I could just calculate the times I need to be at for each kilometer marker, but wasn't sure if this would even be an issue when racing?



Also, the race is at 7:30 a.m.  This is an issue for me since I've become accustomed to a schedule of either running when I get off work (4:30 p.m.) or, on the weekends running after my coffee has run its course (11:00 a.m.).  A friend told me to arrive approximately 1hr prior to the race; therefore I was wondering if anyone has noticed a difference in their running if they don't keep the same schedule they're used to, or if pre-race nerves pretty much cancel that out.  If I stick to my traditional schedule I would have to wake up around 4:00a.m. given the hour drive, arriving an hour early, etc. 



This is a chip-timed race.  Therefore, does the time starts for everyone when the gun goes off or when I run under a sensor?  I only ask since if it starts the same for everyone I assume I would want to work my way to the front of the line?



Finally, since I usually run with an iPod, should I wear it during the race (etiquette question--are they allowed?) or go without? 



Again, thanks for any help you can offer.  Don't mean to sound too "newbiesh", but I thought this would be less embarrassing than asking someone standing next to me at the starting line






  • Forrest Duck Pro 121 posts since
    May 6, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. May 29, 2009 9:58 AM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    Hey Prattguy. Welcome to the community! Your first 5K, awesome!


    Having run all of four 5k races, I will offer my experiences for what it's worth.



    First, I found the transition from treadmill to pavement to be difficult because of pace. After coming back from plantar fasciitis and treadmill running, I found that my pace outside was tto quick. Even though I tried to run at a pace that felt like treadmill speed, it actally was faster (unless my treadmill was lying to me). Anyway, I found that the distance I could run outdoors was a lot shorter than on the treadmill. As for calculating your time to reach markers, I have run two where there were no markers; and the races that did, had them at the one and two mile points.



    I have found that the morning start time did not seem to matter. I never thought about it. I do my training runs in the evenings, except on weekends.



    Concerning chip timing, we actually had a little discussion about that on another thread recently. To be brief, if there are no pads at the start, the chip time is the gun time. They will use the chip time instead of ripping off the tearaway portion of your bib. If there are pads at the start, then will have both a gun time and a chip time. I think the gun time is the official time. You can brag about whichever one you want!



    This is the place for questions. Don't be embarrassed!



    Let us know how you do. Have a great time!

    Finish well!

  • GOGS Amateur 36 posts since
    Apr 2, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. May 29, 2009 10:21 AM (in response to Forrest Duck)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    I've run 2 5K's and finished 2nd in my age group (30-39) each time (20m16s and 20m30s)


    My best treadmill time is actually 19m20s. The most important piece of advice i can give is to get there early and run a 1mile warmup and a comfortable pace. If you do this you already have a good idea of what is a sustainable pace for you at the start of the race. I've been lucky in that ive been able to follow some of the faster runners at the start yet keep to the pace i know i can maintain then try and find someone i can only just keep up with and stay with them. I've never had the problem of being in the lead, i would hate that i think. I've got my first 10K run in 20 years tomorrow. I'm hoping for 40-45 minutes, my PR when i was 18 was around 38 minutes and im almost back in good shape for my 40th birthday coming up at the end of the year


    Ipods are fine, i personally don't use one(i do on the treadmill periodically) but sometimes i feel some uptempo music would be nice. I gues its like manual / automatic transmission in a car. auto's are fun and easy but to get the full experience you gotta go manual

    DistanceDatePR Time
    5 Km 02/12/2011 17:43
    10 Km
    10 Miles 10/10/2010 1:04:45
    Half Marathon
    25 Km 11/14/2010 1:40:17
    30 Km 12/12/2010 2:00:25
    Marathon 10/02/2011 2:52:21
    50 Km 02/26/2011 3:38:32

  • JaimeM Rookie 1 posts since
    Oct 17, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. May 29, 2009 10:29 AM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process


    As far as chip timing goes your official time begins when you cross the start line and ends when you cross the finish.  Don't pay much attention to the "official" time because it will only be true for those who start as soon as the gun goes off.  As far as lining up up front, if you can hang with the elite then by all means your place is at the front, but of course behind the elite runners.  Many elite runners can race a 5k in less than 14 minutes.  Line up according to your estimated race time.  Nothing is worse than having to dodge people because they can't line up accordingly and other runners will be sure to let you know.  



    Many races don't allow ipods however their ban is not strictly enforced.  Check your race for rules regarding ipods.  Of course if you do decide to run with one be mindful of other runners around you (don't cut them off and if you need to walk find your way to the outside edge of the course) and keep the volume so only you can hear it.



    Definitely arrive at least an hour before the race and get a good night's sleep.  Sorry I can't be more helpful to your other questions as I only run outdoors and usually before the sun ever comes up.  



    Good luck, keep running,






  • natedog32pi Rookie 1 posts since
    May 29, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. May 29, 2009 1:45 PM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process


    Congradulations on your first 5k! Its an experience, quite a bit different than running on your own, you'll have fun! I'm an 18 yr old runner, and i've done quite a few races in school and in the community. Personally, I find that my pace throughout the race changes a lot, depending on uphill/downhill, other runners whho are with me, and just how i'm doing at that moment. I've been told that ideally your pace should stay constant, but i like to just go with it. I always run outside, so i can't really help with the tradmill issue, but don't sweat it. It's our first 5k, don't worry about the times or places, just have fun!


    About running at a different time, I actually think it helps. Maybe its just me, but making the race different than training helps me get in the mood for a race. I even have a "racing shirt" i only wear to races. The prerace nerves are part of what helps you run faster than you usually would training. I don't know exactly when the chips start your time, but unless its a huge race there shouldn't be that much of a difference between when the gun goes off and when you cross the starting line, usually on 10 or 15 sec, and in your first 5k don't worry about the time! just run,.



    Ipod's are usually allowed, sometimes a race will ban them, but i wouldn't recomend running with one. Enjoy the race, listen to the fans, enjoy yourself. But that's just me, as long as you're aware of where you and the other runners are there's nothing wrong with an ipod. I have quite a few friends who use one.



    Anyway, just have fun! It'll be an expereince, don't worry about your time, just get out there and run!






  • onfireandrunning Rookie 4 posts since
    Jan 26, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. May 29, 2009 1:58 PM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process





    Just go out there and have fun. You already know about when the time starts for you...when you cross the starting line... and ends when you cross the finish line.  I have a garmin 405 that I keeps pace for me and reminds me when I slow down.  Figure out what's best for you that morning. I think every race is different so don't worry too much about the pace. Don't worry too much about what time you normally run. Chances are that you will have your adrenaline flowing early in the morning getting pumped for the run. If the race allows Ipods... wear one if thats what you are used to. I like wearing mine! Pay attention to others around you and realize that they are probably wearing Ipods as well so you really have to be aware of your surroundings. Good luck and enjoy! 












  • DaveVause Community Moderator 1,447 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. May 29, 2009 1:58 PM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    The 2007 USATF Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position." Further, Rule 245.3 - regarding transponder timing - "the actual time elapsed between an athlete reaching the starting line and finish line can be made known to the athlete, but will not be considered as official time." In short, official time per USATF rule is gun time.


    To be a winner, runners need to line up at the start and compete tactically during the race.  We mere mortals won't care so much about gun time, preferring to know how much time it actually took us to run the race.


    As for music devices, the USATF recently relaxed the rules to allow race directors the discretion as to whether to allow them.

  • crl8686 Legend 1,313 posts since
    Nov 11, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. May 29, 2009 8:49 PM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    1. If you've not run on the roads recently, you may find it a little difficult to set your pace without the treadmill's electronic display in front of you. You will probably be fairly close but don't be surprised if you're heading out faster or slower than you'd planned.The only real way that I know of to overcome this is to run on the roads, but that's not an option for you if your race is tomorrow. The next best thing is to periodically take stock of your breathing and fatigue level to judge if your pace is what you want it to be. Also you can calibrate at each mile marker. P. S. Expect the race markers to be mile, not km, markers.


    2. Ideally you race under the same conditions as you train. Virtually all races start in the early AM. However, a lot of people run at noon or after work, and then race just fine in the AM. It may matter more if you're naturally a morning or evening person.


    3.  Be aware that some chip timed races record your time at the start and finish (in which case your time starts when you step on the mat at the starting line) - and some record your time only at the finish (in which case your time starts when the gun goes off). The website may not specify. Look for the distinctive mat at the starting line. If it isn't there, you may have your time recorded only at the finish and you will want to line up in the starting pack accordingly.  Either way, at 8.5 mph you're doing just about 7 min/mile, so you'll want to line up relatively close to the front (although not in the front row).



    4. As has already been posted, iPods are at the discretion of the race director. The website should specify if they're allowed or not. If you do run with one, consider keeping the volume down and/or running with only one earbud - use common sense.





    Have fun at the race and good luck!

    2015 highlights...

    @ 5K: New Balance Palm Springs 5K, Palm Springs, CA, 24:32

    Angels Baseball Foundation 5K, Anaheim, CA, 24:24

    Pride of the Valley, Baldwin Park, CA, 24:28

    @ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker 10K, Los Angeles, CA, 52:15

    Great Race of Agoura - Old Agoura 10K, Agoura Hills, CA, 51:40

    Fiesta Days Run, La Canada, CA, 49:57

  • Haselsmasher Legend 538 posts since
    May 25, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. May 29, 2009 9:14 PM (in response to crl8686)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    Congrats on your race!  Please let us know how it goes.


    My over-arching feedback - I don't care if you remember or even read anything past this line:  HAVE FUN!


    OK....with that out of the way:

    • If you've basically done no outside running I would be very cautious you don't finish the race with an injury.  The treadmill gives you a soft surface.  Getting shin splints when transitioning from treadmill to outside is very common.  Doing this transition under the stress/intensity of a race could amplify this issue.

    • On the one hand getting there an hour early sounds really early, but I know I like to do that.  Scope out where the johns are.  I inevitably have to go right before the start.  Pay attention to the lines in case you have to get in line earlier than you might think and get through comfortably before the gun goes off.

    • When planning your clothes make sure you have a plan for your car key if you need to carry it.  Nothing worse than realizing you have to carry it in your hand or something because you wore your one pair of shorts that doesn't have a pocket.

    • Realize that adrenalin of the race and energy of those you're running with will carry you - and you'll be astounded when you hear splits how fast you're going.  It's exceedingly common when people are doing their first races to go out at such a fast pace they can't sustain it.  I've been amazed how my normal training pace feels like I'm dogging it when in a race.

    • Be really careful when around people - both at the start and during the race.  How badly would you feel if someone ran into you and you ended up spraining an ankle - putting you out of running at all for 8 weeks?  I'm not saying that like you're likely to do that - but that is what I think of when I'm getting anxious, trying to pass someone maybe too closely, or not paying attention.

    • Given the previous bullet - I would not wear an iPod.  I think it's good to hear footsteps and such around you.  I know in theory it's hard - I always run with music.  But given my earlier adrenalin comments, I think you'll be surprised how you don't need that kind of motivation during a race.  (At least I haven't.)


    What was rule 1?  HAVE FUN!



    "Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."

    -- From the song FM by Steely Dan

  • zookeeperrunning Legend 229 posts since
    Aug 8, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. May 30, 2009 7:17 AM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process





    Congratulations on your first 5k...can't wait to hear how it went for you! Obviously you have already done the race, and I am just going to respond about treadmill running. When I got back into running a year ago, I solely ran on my treadmill for 6 months before I started doing any running outside. I found it a little difficult to transition to road running. My pace however did not change, it just took my muscles some getting used to. Then after being outside for a while, I stopped running on the treadmill all together. This past week we have had nothing but rain, so I had to do a few of my runs on the treadmill, and wow are my legs sore again. So fro m my experience alone, I would recommend running both outdoors, and on the treadmill. Especially since you are competing in races now, you need to be used to running outdoors. It also helps if you know the race course in advance so you can run it a few times before race day. Good luck, and KEEP ON RUNNING!!






  • Forrest Duck Pro 121 posts since
    May 6, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. May 30, 2009 12:11 PM (in response to prattguy)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process


    Good job Prattguy!  And a very worthy cause indeed.



    Every race is been a learning experience, becoming more aware of logistics, procedures, the course, and especially myself.  It seems you got a lot out this first 5k.



    As someone here has said, Run On!



    Finish well!

  • pacificfit Legend 147 posts since
    Jan 9, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. May 30, 2009 12:32 PM (in response to Forrest Duck)
    Re: First ever race etiquette/process

    Turnover, turnover, turnover.


    As a triathlon coach, the number 1 problem I see with runners on pavement that I don't see on the treadmill is leg turnover. Very simple when the belt is moving, but difficult without that impetus.


    So COUNT YOUR STEPS when you're running off that treadmill and try to maintain a high cadence...

    My blog is at

    Also, I'm giving away a free 7-part series on "How To Become Superhuman" at

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