Starting a new exercise can be scary. Although I’ve run a lot of races, my first time running a 5K was one of the toughest ones. While I expected the race to be tough physically, I wasn’t prepared for all the emotions I would experience as well.
Here’s what emotions to expect during your first 5K.
Not because the distance was intimidating, but because I was aware of my inexperience — similar to how many first-time gym-goers might feel. When I approached the start line, I already envisioned myself crossing the finish line in last place. But as any coach will tell you, that’s one of the worst thoughts you can have before a big event.
The race started and I quickly fell to the back of the pack, keeping my pace slow and steady. I feared that going too fast would leave me exhausted after the first half mile. As runners passed me, I felt defeated.
Even more, I felt achy and overheated — like a true rookie, I’d started the race without doing any stretches or warm-up. And I overdressed with long sleeves and leggings in 55-degree weather. Notes for next time, I told myself. If there ever was a next time!
By the second mile, the more experienced runners had passed me and I fell into a pack of runners who were running at a similar equal pace. Looking around, I realized they were all fighting the same fight I was, wondering why they ever signed up for a 5K they had no chance of winning.
And then it hit me — the great thing about running a 5K and competing in general is that everyone wins. Whether you come in second place or 60th, you finished and that’s something to celebrate. When I realized my goal was simply to prove to myself that I could finish, I found myself enjoying the run a lot more.
With only 0.1 miles left to go, the finish line was in sight and I couldn’t believe the race was almost over. I was looking forward to stopping, but at the same time I didn’t want the experience to end.
When I crossed the finish line, I felt prouder of myself than I had in a long time — and not because there were a fair number of runners behind me, either. I felt proud because I’d set an ambitious goal, overcome my fear and finished the race feeling capable.
I knew I had a long way to go before I’d ever be at the front of the pack, but with a little more practice and positive thinking, I already knew I could do better in my next race.
Have you finished a 5K? What did you feel during and after the race? Let us know by commenting below.