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Friday, June 28, 2013

How to Be Awesome at a 5K/Color Me Rad

I used to run a lot, like, back in college.  I ran all the time.  I was good at it.

Not so much now.

However, I have been trying to exercise more lately, so when I saw people signing up for the Color Me Rad 5K I thought that it might be good motivation.  I'd never run a 5K before, or really, ran for any reason other than just personal exercise, usually on a treadmill or a track.  I kind of thought maybe I was going crazy, but I decided, "What the heck?" and signed Brian and I both up.

We had a really good time.  There were several things I am glad I did, though, and several things I wish I'd known ahead of time.  For anyone interested in running the Color Me Rad race, or really any 5K, here is my list of helpful tips.

1)  Train ahead of time.

I realize that it sounds a little silly to say you should "train" for a 5K.  It's only 3.1 miles.  Marathon runners don't even start sweating until around 5 miles, right?

Here's the thing, though.  I haven't exercised seriously in a while.  Before I got pregnant, I probably could have done it without a problem, but now...I actually had to work up to this.

If you are in fantastic shape and can run a 5K on just a random day with no preparation, that's great.  You are awesome.  Moving on.

I found a "Couch to 5K" seven-week program just by Googling it (and no one is surprised), and I did it for eight weeks.  It was not easy, but it was manageable, and I could definitely tell I was building endurance.

Also, it's worth noting here that I had to do all my "training" with Cricket in a stroller.  It is surprisingly more challenging to run while pushing a 20 pound baby in a 20 pound stroller than to just run by yourself.  Good exercise, though.

2)  Arrive Early

Traffic was so crazy, it was backed up all the way onto the highway.  They said to get there 45 minutes early, but I would say plan on an hour or more.  We allowed 45 minutes of extra time, but got there with about ten minutes to spare.

It ended up not really mattering, though, since the Color Me Rad is an untimed race.  They just send a wave of people through every five minutes.  We had signed up for a specific race time, but that was apparently not a real thing.

3)  Follow Basic Traffic Patterns

I shouldn't have been surprised that this was a problem, seeing as how most people in Alabama don't follow basic traffic rules in cars.  Why would they suddenly start doing it while running?

For those who aren't familiar with this concept, I will make it simple.  Walk on the right.  Run on the left.

So simple.

If you are running, and you decide to walk for a while, move to the right.

If you are walking, make sure there is room for someone to pass you on the left.

Above everything else, if you are walking in a group, do not, for the love of all that is good and wonderful in this world, walk shoulder to shoulder so that you cover the entire road and no one can get by.

This happened over and over again.  Right at the beginning I saw a woman completely wipe out because she was trying to pass a big group of walkers who were completely oblivious, and she was forced up onto the curb.  As she stepped off of the curb, she slipped and fell.

I know it was an untimed run, so it's not like it affected my qualification score for the New York Marathon or anything, but still, it's frustrating to be in the zone, jogging along, and suddenly have to stop because no one will move to the right three feet.

4)  Bring Music

I'm so glad I brought my iPod, even if I'm pretty sure the headphones are ruined from all the colored corn starch.  It was worth it.  As I've said before, I'm almost completely incapable of running without music.  They did have some music playing at the checkpoints, but I wouldn't have run nearly as much without my own.

5)  Wear White

Ok, this one is specific to the Color Me Rad race.  You don't have to wear white for any other 5K, unless you just really want to or something.

They give you a cool t-shirt, but that's not the one you run in.  (It's also SUPER small.  Even getting a size bigger than normal, it's super small!)  Wear at least a shirt that is all white.  That way the color shows up really well.

They also give you awesome sunglasses to protect your eyes, a RAD tattoo, and a free color packet at the end of the race.  Pretty cool loot package.

6)  Prepare to be messy

Bring large garbage bags to put over the backs of your car seats, and towels to put on the seat.  Bring more towels to dust off with, and wet wipes or water to wash your hands.

Also, just know that the dyes in the powder do not all come off your skin easily.  The blues and purples are especially hard to get off.

On the other hand, they came out of our clothes completely!  We used oxyclean, and they look as pristine as the day we bought them.  I thought about trying to preserve the colors, but they had all smeared together and were all brown and gross, so I didn't.

7)  Hang Around Afterwards

I was tempted to leave early and beat the traffic, but I'm glad we stayed long enough to do the crowd color explosion.  It was so fun.  There was so much color that it was momentarily dark all around me.  Everyone was jumping and dancing and cheering, and even though we had all just run three miles, there was so much energy we couldn't help but join in.

8)  Take Pictures

Whether you use their professional photography areas or just get a friend to take some, make sure you get before and after pictures.

In the end, this was a lot of fun.  I ran a lot more of it than I thought I would, probably thanks to my training with the stroller.  I don't know that I would do it again, but I'm glad I did it once, and I'm proud of myself.  I'm also glad the race was on June 1, because it is way too hot now to be out running every day!


  1. Thanks for the tips I'm running the color me rad tomorrow 820am

    1. Awesome! Good luck! You'll have a great time. :o)

  2. Wish I had read this two days ago. :D Still enjoyed the Color Run in Mobile though.... just hope my friend's car comes clean. :/

    1. Haha yeah, it should wash out...eventually. :o)

  3. I'm doing this race tomorrow!! Thanks for the tips! Luckily, I thought about training a while back but everything here is really helpful! :)

    1. I hope it went well! Please share any other tips you think would help someone wanting to do it!

  4. Thanks for this blog post! Sounds like you had a grand time. I just signed up for this race in September... but I'm VERY out of shape, so I will definitely be training a bunch. My goal is run the whole thing and still feel decent at the end. :)
    Thanks again!

    1. We did have fun, and I hope you do, too! Let me know how it goes!