The lone runner: my tips for racing alone

My family don’t understand my obsession with running and racing. As I’ve been dealing with running injuries for what feels like years, I don’t blame them. My friends are occupied in family orientated, grown-up activities during the weekend. Luckily, I’ve reached the stage where I don’t need the support of my family and friends at races.

To complicate matters slightly as a lone runner, I don’t currently own a car (i.e. a personal kit dumping ground). I have to rely on unreliable public transport and my own two feet to get to local races.WorkplayThanks to my “friend” for taking this Workplay bag and dodgy arse shot.  

Here are some of my top tips for travelling to races and racing alone:

1. Research the race. Is there a secure baggage area? What facilities are there at the start/finish? What time does the race start? Can I get to the race on public transport? As a lone racer access to a secure baggage area makes life a lot easier. Unfortunately, a lot of smaller local events have stopped offering this option. After carrying a bag full of spare clothes around a 10k, I learnt the importance of pre-race research.

2. Plan Ahead. If, after completing your initial research, you know you’ll be travelling by public transport to an event, buying your tickets before the day of the race makes life easier. There is nothing quite as stressful as having to queue for 20 minutes to buy tickets on the morning of a race. Almost missing a train definitely added to my stress levels before this year’s Great Midlands Fun Run.

3. ID. Before a race, always complete the emergency details section on the reverse of your race number. If you have a medical condition or are taking medication, make sure that you include this information. So many runners don’t seem to bother. In addition, make sure that you are carrying a form of ID. If there’s a problem you want someone to be able to contact your family/partner. Don’t be anonymous.

4. Invest in a decent running waist bag or belt. My Workplay Fleetfoot II running bag has enabled me to travel to several races without secure baggage areas. During the Great Midlands Fun Run I managed to squeeze my house keys, mobile phone, headphones, train tickets, gels, asthma inhaler, money, rain jacket and water bottle into my waist bag. As an added bonus the Fleetfoot bag has an “in case of emergency” label. After years of wasting money on running accessories I haven’t really needed, Phiten necklace, emu oil and long distance track spikes I’m looking at you, buying something practical that I’ve actually used is a novel experience!

5. Race photos. I must confess to experiencing more than a little envy at times of runners with more supportive families. Having access to a personal race photographer is pretty awesome. Although I’m not a huge fan of selfies (mainly because they always make me look like I’m knackered), there aren’t really many alternatives. Official race photographs are expensive, and I’m far too shy to ask strangers to take my photo. Have selfie sticks been banned from races yet?SelfiesBefore and after the 2014 Great Midlands Fun Run. Simply stunning selfies!

I guess the simple solution would be to join a local running club. Regrettably, for various reasons, this isn’t an option for me at the moment. Luckily the increased number of ‘virtual’ running communities and groups means that it’s now easier than ever to meet up with other runners.

Until I overcome my social anxiety and awkwardness, I’ll be the tall runner standing at the back of the field, nervously waiting for the race to start.

Have you ever travelled to a race alone?

Do you have any hints and tips for lone racers?


4 thoughts on “The lone runner: my tips for racing alone

  1. Helen says:

    I always wear my parkrun tag as it has ICE phone number on it.

    In terms of carrying things, I find the Ron Hill Trail Capris are absolutely amazing. I struggle finding suitable waist packs and these enable me to carry the kitchen sink. Brilliant.

    I travel to races on my own a lot, also standing awkwardly at the back so I hear you!

    Great blog as ever – do you mind if I add you to my blogroll on my blog?


    • Emma says:

      I confess that I never used to bother to complete my emergency details/carry ID. I’ve clearly got more responsible with age 🙂

      Thanks for the Ron Hill Trail Capri recommendation. They sound perfect for lone runners 🙂

      I would be honoured to feature on the blogroll on your blog. I really need to make some improvements to my mishmash of a blog!


  2. Dave says:

    I usually go to races on my own. And I stand in the back. Awkward and jealous of the people with family and friends. I don’t mind really … just my reality! 🙂


    • Emma says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog 🙂

      I must admit that travelling to races on my own does get a bit depressing at times.

      At the start/end of an event, I often find myself looking at the groups of runners standing together and chatting and feel jealous.

      Here’s to more lone racing 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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