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Tips for a Beginner Clydesdale Runner

By Edited Jul 18, 2016 1 2
Runners start off a race
Credit: wikipedia commons public domain - U.S. Navy photo by Mark Piggott

Runners starting a race!

Clydesdale Racing

Yes, I'm a clydesdale.  Some running races and most triathlons have special categories for heavier participants.  For men, the category is for those over 190 or 200 pounds.  They also have a category for women called Athenas and that generally begins at 145 pounds.  These categories are usually broken down further between those who are under 40 and those who are 40 and over.  These categories are designed to encourage wider participation in races.

I enjoy nearly all physical activity and have run for years.  In typical age group 5k or 10k races I am at best a middle of the pack runner.  Races are fun and give you a chance to test your fitness level against others; however, I generally consider a race as a contest between the stop watch and me.  I have a time a want to beat going into a race and consider the race a success if I better that time regardless of how many guys in my age group are ahead of me.  All that being said, I do enjoy being compared with guys closer to my size instead of those 70 pounds lighter.


Thankfully, running doesn't require much in terms of equipment.  A decent sports watch and some running shoes and you're good to go.  The sports watch needs to have stop watch capability and most of them do.  You need to understand your pacing and how fast you are going.  You can't track progress without assessing how fast you run on a per mile basis.  

Runners in a race
As for shoes, make sure you have sufficient padding.  As a novice clydesdale runner, you likely aren't going to set any speed records.  I don't set any speed records as a more experienced runner and I've resigned myself to my limitations.  Accordingly, I concentrate on buying well padded shoes instead of acquiring the lightest and fastest shoes.  The lighter shoes tend to have less padding.  As a clydesdale class runner, you will exert more pressure on your joints per foot fall than lighter runners.  Best to have padded shoes that allow your joints to keep running than worry about buying the lightest racing shoes.

First Race

Look Online for Races

Go online to look up local races.  Active.com is a good source to start.  Typical sign up fees range from $15 to $25.  The entry fees are often less if you sign up earlier.  When you do online entry you can see if they offer a clydesdale category.  If not, enter in your age group.

Try to Find a Race with a Smaller Field of Runners

If you are new to races, I would suggest starting out with a race without too many runners.  You can often get an idea about the size of the field by checking out online results from the same race in prior years.  Try to find one with 500 or less entrants.  Smaller entry fields are better because the start of a race can be very cluttered.  I was once in a race with 10,000 participants and spent the first mile tripping over race walkers.  Best race etiquette is to line up roughly in the order you expect to finish.  Front of the pack runners should be right on the starting line.  If you're new and a clydesdale, your best strategy is to line up towards the rear so that you aren't run over in the beginning stages of the run.

Before the Race

Don't Eat Much

Most races are run early in the morning.  If you eat any kind of breakfast, be sure to keep it

A 5k race
very very light.  I am guilty of swilling coffee each morning, so race preparation involves proper caffeine fueling.  If you do happen to sign up for a race that starts in the afternoon or evening, you might not be racing on an empty stomach.  Nevertheless, you still need to limit your food intake for at least four hours before the race start time.  I ran a Saturday afternoon race once and ate a Chinese food lunch about two and a half hours before the starting time.  I figured enough time had elapsed and my stomach would be clear.  I was wrong!  I could taste the Chinese food for the entire 12k run.

Limit Your Warm Up 

I've never been much for warming up prior to a race.  The most I'll do is maybe a half mile of light jogging, which is just enough for a light sweat and being limber for some stretching.  I've always figured that too much warm up running will wear me out for the actual race.  I don't recall ever seeing a clydesdale runner doing a long warm up run.

Manage Your Expectations/Set a Goal

As a novice runner, you shouldn't worry much about where you finish in comparison to anyone else.  Keep track of your pace when you're training and set a goal based on your training pace.  If you have run the race distance in your training, then you should have some idea of what will be a good goal.

Competitors in a 5k race
If your training distances don't quite match the length of the race you are running you can utilize an online pace calculator.  Mcmillanrunning.com has a good one you can use for free.  Based on your speed running one distance you can project how fast you'll finish at a different distance.  This calculator will assist you in order to set your goal for your first clydesdale race.

Better to Start Slow

Prior to the start of the race, your adrenaline with kick in hard.  For me, I have to fight the urge to start out in a sprint.  At the start of the race I am completely locked and loaded.  Having the starting gun go off is almost a relief.  If you're similar to me, you'll find it difficult to start slow.  I have found over the years that starting too fast leads to pain and agony in the last mile of the race.  Better to start a bit slower and build speed as you go than start fast and have difficulty finishing.  You want to finish as a running clydesdale instead of a walking plow horse.

Middle of the Race

A happy clydesdale runner at the end of a race
Most races station volunteers at each mile marker to hand out cups of water for you to slosh down and discard.  More importantly, someone also calls out how much time has elapsed since the start of the race.  Of course, you can always check your own watch.  The most important matter at these mile markers is to gauge how fast you are going in comparison to how you feel.  If your time is what you expect and you feel good, stay at the same pace.  If your time is a bit faster than your training times and you feel drained after the first mile, then slow down for the second mile.  If you're running a 5k race, the real test is how you feel after you've gone two miles.  Speed up if you have more juice.  

One thing I've done over the years is to find someone to help pace me.  Get in behind someone who is about the same speed as you.  You don't want to draft them like in NASCAR, but use their pace to help you along.  As a novice runner, you may find it difficult to stick with a consistent pace on your own.


The last mile of my first few races seemed impossibly long.  If you've started slower and monitored your pacing throughout the race, the last part should be comfortable.  You might

Happy clydesdale runner
even be able to speed up, particularly when the finish line is in sight.  In the best case scenario you'll have enough energy left to sprint the last hundred yards.  

Most organized races have a finish line with an overhead timer and a chute to run through.  Once you move under the overhead timer, be sure to keep moving.  Otherwise, someone may run into you as they sprint through the finish line.  After you leave the chute you can finally relax.

Whatever the result of the race, do another one!  Running can be contagious in a good way.  Make running a good fitness habit.  You can be a sleeker clydesdale!



Mar 29, 2014 8:38pm
BoomerBill, I didn't even know there were weight classes in running. Very interesting. I run 2-3 miles several times a week. Thinking of getting into running races, so some of this information still might help. Thanks.
Mar 30, 2014 8:01am
Thanks for reading! Sounds to me like you're ready for a 5k.
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