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Boston 5K Safety Tips: Conquering Your First Race

Written by Holly Chavez.

Conquer Your First Race in Boston | MetroSeeker.comConquer Your First Race in Boston | MetroSeeker.com

Running your first race in Boston could be extremely exciting, and it is a great way to help you meet your physical fitness goals. However, be vigilant and recognize the fact that there are some potential safety hazards which could prevent you from crossing the finish line. Check out these tips to help ensure that you have a fun and successful first race!

Boston Doesn’t Stand Still

If you are moving to Boston, you’ve probably already heard that the city is full of delights and tons of exciting things to do. From beer tasting events at the Brew at the Zoo to killer cuisine at Dine Out Boston, you’ll be able to partake in all the food and fun you could ever imagine.

Boston natives know how to take care of that ‘full belly’ feeling after having a good time out on the town, and these health conscious folks love to combine fun activities with exercise. In fact, they literally keep moving. The city is nicknamed the Walking City, and with all the annual races they offer - including the legendary test of endurance, the Boston Marathon - maybe it should have been nicknamed the Running City!

While all of us may not be ready for the grueling competition that is the Boston Marathon, the city has several fantastic races to participate in throughout the year. Hot summer months ramp up the total number of races you can participate in, and many racing enthusiasts can enjoy various 5K races that are hosted in different areas of the city.

The Freedom Trail Run

One popular Boston 5K race is the Freedom Trail Run. You can put on your racing tennis shoes and run every weekend -- that means Friday, Saturday AND Sunday, if you have a hankering to do so. The Freedom Trail is a perfect race for newcomers to Boston, too, because you pass by several historical city landmarks while allowing you to see Boston's famous Freedom Trail up close. Runners don’t just do a run by the sites, they also stop (about 16 times) and get to explore. Even if you’re a beginner, this race might be the right one for you.

Once you register for the run, you’ll get a guided running tour, a boat that will bring you back, beverages and an awesome shirt that will bring up memories of your triumph whenever worn.

Before Starting the Race

Once you’ve moved to Boston, you’ll most likely want to put on your gear and hit the trails and streets. The best advice is not to jump into a race without any conditioning, though, because you might get injured if you head into your routine too fast.

First, discuss your exercise goals with your physician, get their advice and approval, then use the following suggested regimen to get your mind and body ready to compete.

1. Train for the Race

Even though a 5K is only 3.1 miles, it is still necessary to do some training so that you do not end up hurting yourself. If you have never run a race before (or it’s been a long time since), you should start by running for shorter periods of time such as 10 to 15 minutes to get yourself used to this type of physical activity.

Additionally, you need to wear properly fitted shoes that offer you enough support to keep your feet and knees from getting injured. After you have mastered shorter runs, you should slowly extend the duration of each training session to 3.1 miles to make sure that you are prepared for the 5K.

2. Familiarize yourself with the Course

One of the best ways to avoid issues on the course is to become familiar with it before the day of the race. For example, if you are planning to run in theFreedom Trail Run, you can review the course map in advance and physically go to the location to look for any potential hazards such as cracked pavement.

3. Stretch Before and After the Race

Take a few minutes and stretch to avoid common injuries such as strained muscles.

4. Remain Aware of Your Surroundings

One of the biggest hazards while participating in a race is tripping or literally running into another person. Both of these accidents could cause you to slam into the ground, and this can lead to a serious injury. If you do have an accident, you should seek assistance and move out of the path of other runners.

5. Cool Down After the Race

Although it will be tempting to stop running as soon as you hit the 5K mark, this is not a good idea for your body. Instead, you need to cool down by either running slowly for an additional mile or walking at an increasingly slower pace for at least 10 minutes. This can prevent your muscles from tightening, and it is just as essential as stretching. Additionally, you should hydrate immediately after the race and be prepared to eat a light snack such as an energy bar.

6. Conditioning and Pacing Yourself

Important for limiting the risk of injury. That said, when you participate in 5K races you can be prone to injury even if you aren’t doing any lifting or exertions. Speed can cause instantaneous damage to your body, which is magnified if you are fatigued.

On the other hand, there are injuries that can happen on the trek that can be attributed to someone else’s actions - from drivers to construction workmen - and there are also laws designed to protect you when this happens. If another person's negligence or an obstacle hazard on the course causes you to be seriously injured, then it is best to contact a legal representative to help guide you through complexities required to present your case against the responsible parties.

It’s great to handle training for a 5K race, but not so much for a personal injury. There’s just too much at stake to try and handle on your own, and this will become critical if your injuries are serious enough to require extensive medical attention. It is wise to reach out for assistance as soon as possible if you are injured through the fault of another.

Writer Holly Chavez is a contributor to health and wellness blogs and forums. She is looking forward to working up to a 5K, and plans on watching where she is running to avoid any injury on her first race.

Photo: © Bastos - Fotolia.com 

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