The Color Run markets itself as the “happiest 5k” and following my experience at its 2017 Philadelphia installment, I can’t say that I disagree. When I arrived at Citizens Bank Park (the race location) I was a ball of nerves. You see I am by no means a runner and this would only be my second 5k to date. However, I was quickly greeted by the smiling faces of volunteers and a rainbow of colors swarming around the parking lot. After all, yes the The Color Run is a race, but it’s also a full-fledged party.
Lots of music. Lots of energy. Lots of happiness. And of course, color! The path for this particular race was unique in that it took us throughout not only the Philly sports complex, but across the actual Citizens Bank Park field. Not every day that you have the opportunity cross the very bases that the Phillies do. After exiting the ball park, you’re met with lots of opportunities to get colorful.
Color stations with volunteers cheering you on and dousing you in a rainbow of chalks littered the stadium parking lot and I can’t think of another time in which I’ve yelled, “Hey! Can you throw more color on me?!” At my 48 minute wrap up, I found the experience was equally exhausting and exhilarating. For beginners, a 5k (and I’m assuming any race of the like) is one of those things that makes you feel like quitting every step of the way, but also keeps you coming back for more because the struggle feels so good.
How do I know? I just registered for my third after swearing I was done for the year.
That’s right Rock ‘N Roll Run -- I’m coming for you. Before I do though I want to share some tips that have truly served me for my first two runs and (will hopefully) get you off on yours too!
- Hydrate. With any form of exercise you should be sure to hydrate, but when you’re walking/running/jogging for over three miles (sometimes in sweltering heat) the sentiment doubles so take your time and drink up!
- Arrive early. There’s a fairly good chance that you’re going to have to go through an onsite registration process and there will be lots of runners doing the same, so the last thing you want to be racing before the actual one even starts. Get there 30-45 minutes early, save yourself the trouble and enjoy the pre-race festivities.
- Pack a bomb playlist. It could totally be relative, but for me music is a requirement for doing almost any activity and running is no exception. A solid, high energy one with lots of turn up tunes will keep you chugging along just when you’re in that last “omg I’m ready to pass out” stretch.
- Know your position. During the race there will be people who run, people who walk and people do a combination of both. Starting in the middle to back of the pack is safe for most beginners and will give you some much needed lead time for determining your own pace.
- Focus on yourself. This is probably the most important tip I could offer because I’ve said time and time again that I am a chronic over thinker. Overanalyzing is easily my most tragic flaw. Thus, before my first 5k I couldn’t help playing out every bad outcome in my mind:
“What if I fall?”
“What if I finish last?”
"What if everyone stares at me because I can’t finish at ALL?!
And in hindsight all of those fears were rooted in my own insecurity about running. The reality from my experience is that everyone around you is so focused on getting their own workout in and goal met that they aren’t paying you any attention at all. So, make sure to do yourself a favor and follow suit.