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A beginners guide to races

by Graham Boggia

Why race?

If you’ve got yourself into this running lark under instructions from a medical professional, or you lost a drunken bet with a dubious friend that you couldn’t run 5k in less than forty minutes, or maybe you’re even having an early mid-life crisis, you could be forgiven for wondering why any sane person would actually pay good money to pull on a pair of trainers and go for a run. Well, like any hobby or pastime people engage themselves in it in varying degrees, but I must add here that no club member is or will be under any pressure or obligation to enter any race, so if you decide this business isn’t for you, that’s cool, we’re still more than happy to have you among our ranks.

So what’s stopping you, perhaps you feel anxious? Maybe you’re frightened of getting lost on the course (there are marshalls at road junctions to ensure this doesn’t happen) or getting laughed at if you come last (this definitely doesn’t happen), or needing the toilet halfway round (ahem, more on this later). You might be thinking to yourself ‘Why bother, I’ll never ever win?’ well, here at Faversham Running Club it’s the taking part that matters, not the winning, in fact, around 99% of runners will never win a race, but that certainly doesn’t make them losers.

Other reasons people enter races

  • A change of scenery – it’s always refreshing to run somewhere new
  • No route planning needed, just turn up and run
  • Charity sponsorship – there’s probably not a runner in the country who hasn’t done a charity race once or twice
  • To get an accurate measure of performance – runners love looking at statistics to see how they’ve improved* over the months/years (*or not as the case may be!)
  • To broaden their horizons and move out of their comfort zone for a short while
  • Running with friends or family – this can make for a memorable day out
  • Medals – pretty much every race in the calendar offers a finishers medal, so even if you only do one race in your career you’ll have a memento of that day

It’s the taking part that matters, not the winning, in fact, around 99% of runners will never win a race, but that certainly doesn’t make them losers.

Graham Boggia

Finding events

Ok, so you’ve sort of decided you might dip a toe and see what all the fuss is about – but how does anyone find out where and when all these events are? Well, a good place to start is parkrun. It’s free, it’s local (Whitstable is our nearest one, followed by Canterbury and Sittingbourne) it’s 5k, and it’s every week. You can pretty much guarantee there’ll be at least half a dozen FRC runners at Whitstable every week. For me, what makes parkrun is the non-competitive, inclusive, non-judgmental atmosphere that prevails at their runs, the ideal fostering ground for new runners who are finding their feet and wanting to grow in confidence.

The club members’ Facebook page plays a big role in the club and people will tell you what races they’ve entered and if they have any spare car seats going which is often welcome. Please note there are two FRC Facebook pages, one is a private closed group where members post and chat with each other, and the other one is a public page where the club management post.

Another good source is the events pages over at Run Britain  at Runners World and Nice Work . You can search races by location and distance.

Something more local

If you live in Faversham and even if you’re only vaguely interested in running you probably will have heard of the Faversham 10k, held each September. This race doesn’t actually have much to do with the club, it’s organised by The Cystic Fibrosis Trust but it never fails to produce a flagship turnout of members.


So you've booked your first event...

So you’ve clicked a few buttons on-screen, entered your card details and bam, your inbox now has confirmation that you’ve secured yourself a place in a race, your first ever race. It’s not unusual for a runners’ first ever race to be a marathon, yup, in at the deep end, doing the big one. Often this route will have been chosen with charity sponsorship in mind, London being an obvious example. Last time I looked, the London Marathon was about nine times oversubscribed and winning a place in the open ballot was an unlikely happening, thus making the charity route into the event much more commonplace. On a more achievable level, you might be aiming to complete a non-stop 5k run.

Training plans to get you started

Tips for the big day

Here’s a few tips to help make your big day a memorable one, for the right reasons.

Make sure you’ve completed at least one training run that’s a minimum of 3/4 of your race distance.

What to wear

Never wear any new clothing (for the first time) on race day – a badly fitting garment or shoes can ruin months of training.


Look out for, and try to smile at the race photographers, however bad you may feel inside!

Pre-race poo

Make sure you have a poo before the race, and then another one. This may not sound obvious but has been the downfall of many. As it happens, runners are quite at ease chatting about their toilet habits, so don’t be shocked.

Finishing your first event

Finally, take the time to savour that elation you’ll experience as you cross the finish line. You never know, you might even want to do it all over again.

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