When the gun goes off, more than 300 runners from all over the nation will head off for the Maine Lobster Festival’s annual 5K and 10K race that winds through the back streets and coastline of Rockland, Maine. Along with a One-mile Kid’s Fun Run, this is a popular and exciting competition for both the runners and spectators who come here for a Maine vacation.

Even though it’s winter, it’s not too early to start training and build your endurance! If you’ve never run a 5k or 10K before, here are some tips to get you off to a running start: 

Volunteer Before You Race

For beginners, it’s daunting to conceive of putting one foot in front of the other for 3+ miles let alone 6+ miles without stopping (while everyone else around you seems to do it with ease). A tip from Active suggests you volunteer for a local race in your own neighborhood to get a sense of how other runners dress, take their mark at the starting line, keep their pace and strategize all the way to the finish line.

Know the Lingo

Did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to come down on your foot while running? This technique, called “foot strike” is one of the many nuances in the art of running that sets the “elite” (running pros) apart from the “newbies” (beginners learning the sport). Learn the lingo and techniques here.

One Mile at a Time

Pre-race nerves may have you feeling like you aren’t going to make it the whole way, but as with all big tasks, experts suggest breaking the overwhelming larger parts into manageable bits. With running, it’s a mind game as well as a physical challenge. Keep a steady pace and a smile on your face until you get to mile one. After that, you can give yourself a mental high five for at least accomplishing that and then focus on just getting through the next mile.

Build Endurance

Recreational runners fear hitting a wall early on. To get your body in race-mode, practice plyometrics, also known as jump training or “plyos.” These are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, such as squat jumps and lunge jumps. Here are 10 of the best plyos for athletes.

Jam at the End

This Runner’s World article takes its tips from running coach Pete Rea, who says the key to a big finish is to save your energy for the end. “For best results, you should run fast but controlled for the first 3k, then be assertive in the middle, from about 4k to 8k, and try to kick at the end.” The way to do that? Train for it so that you’re running your last one to three miles at a faster pace.

Both the 10K and 5K races are timed and the first 200 runners registered for each race receive a t-shirt. All finishers are presented with a medal, and awards are presented for top finishers in many age categories. Walkers are welcome for the 5K only. Information regarding registration and route details for the Road Races, Fun Run and Walk will be updated on the Maine Lobster Festival website as they become available.