Getting into running can be an intimidating task even if you are just planning to head out for some solo exercise. Signing up for a running event can raise your anxiety to a whole new level, even if the event itself is not competitive. Since running could actually help your mental health, tackling this is sensible.

Preparation is vital to helping you keep calm in the run-up to the event and also to making sure you perform to the best of your abilities when it kicks off. Here are some steps you can take to make sure it all goes smoothly.

2014 BMW / Berlin Marathon

Get a good night’s sleep

If your body is well rested, you will be able to realise your true potential when the day of the event arrives, whether you are just looking to set a good 5K time at your local amateur race or hoping to make a good impression at a club get-together.

While it can be hard to sleep soundly if you have a lot on your mind, you can give yourself the best chance of enjoying an uninterrupted night of rest by resisting the temptation to check your phone before bed and avoiding overindulging in food and drink in the evening.

Bring the right gear

It may seem obvious, but having the right clothing and footwear can make all the difference to how well you perform at a running event.

If you are running outdoors, for example, the weather conditions may dictate the choice of gear you bring with you. Plan ahead and test out different clothing combos to make sure you are comfortable in all of the options available to you.

Stay hydrated

You need to be well hydrated if you want to avoid muscle cramps, headaches and the other fatigue-related effects of not having enough fluids onboard when you run.

It is not just about taking water with you if you are participating in a longer race, but also about hydrating in the lead up to the start and making sure to replenish lost fluids and nutrients after you have crossed the finish line.

Runners in Parliament Square. The Virgin Money London Marathon, Sunday 24th April 2016.

Keep a steady pace

The temptation to fly off at full speed once the race begins will be strong, but it is much better to build up your momentum steadily, both to prevent fatigue setting in too early and to avoid injuring yourself through overexertion.

Factor this into your training as you prepare for the event and get to know the pace that your body can handle comfortably so that you have a baseline to aim for.

Be realistic

Obviously it is useful for runners to have goals and ambitions before they participate in any event, but if you are a newcomer then you will want to give yourself an achievable target, rather than aiming high and ultimately failing.

This will help you to have a positive attitude no matter the outcome, and will give you a sense of achievement when you cross the finish line while also encouraging you to come back for future events.