One of 2018’s New Year’s Resolutions was to run 10k without stopping. I’d started to challenge myself on the treadmill last year, aiming to do one 5k run a week and gradually I went from having to stop for a quick water break and some air every other kilometre, to being able to run it confidently and pacing myself against time. I really wanted to get back into running this year, as I was so into it about two/three years ago and I got fitter and felt far more body confident in the process. So, in a bid to get (read: force) myself back into it, I signed up for the Cardiff Half Marathon and training was underway.
As my 5k runs started getting quicker and, honestly I’m shocked myself saying this, easier, I decided it was time for my first challenge and at the end of January I signed up to run the Cardiff Bay 10k. It would be the first ever running race I’d properly done, apart from the local fun run every kid in the school participated in when I was younger, and it’s safe to say I was pretty terrified. I’d given myself 8 weeks to get ready, and the goal was to get around the course without stopping or walking.
And I did it! I’m pleased to say I completed the 10k rather comfortably, and even ended up crossing the finish line in 58 minutes, even though I anticipated I’d be well over an hour. I ran around, even speeding up in the second half in order to try and beat the hour mark, and overall I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I ran with some of my favourite people, the atmosphere was electric, and everyone was there to have a good time. People were shouting and cheering you on as you ran past, giving you high fives and encouraging you to keep going. If anything it’s made me ever so slightly less scared for the Half Marathon, and I’m even excited at the thought of doing it!
So how did I do it? I think it’s safe to say I am in no way an expert, but I am a beginner and I enjoyed reading about other people’s experiences in the lead up to my race. So here are my tips and tricks for getting ready to smash your first 10km.
1. Start running
Sounds completely obvious, but you have to start somewhere! I’ll be honest, I used to loathe running. Just the thought of my feet thudding against the treadmill would have me running to the weights section of the gym, but now I’ve found that I actually crave a little run now and again, and the feeling on completing a run is amazing. It doesn’t matter how far you can run to begin with. Start small, with water breaks and walks in between, and build up your distance gradually over time.
2. Get comfortable with 5k
This was the bit that I was most worried about. I guess I can run pretty fast if I want to. Hey, if it’s last orders at the bar I’m there quicker than you can say Usain Bolt, but when it comes to stamina and distance I definitely struggle. The biggest bit of advice I read was to get comfortable with a 5k distance. Make sure you can complete it comfortably without stopping and from there you should be good to go. Every week leading up to the 10k race I made sure to run 5k on the treadmill. I basically scheduled it in that every Thursday evening after work, I would run a 5k and aimed to beat my PB each time. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, but it was all aiding in helping me to get further faster.
3. Get some outdoor, long distance runs in
The weather in the lead up to the 10k was abysmal. Snow, rain, more snow, more rain, freezing temperatures, hailstone, even more snow. We had it all, and I actually only managed to get two longer distance outdoor runs into my training regime, which worried me a little. I ran with my mum who is an absolute trooper when it comes to outdoor running (would definitely get a running partner too, btw!) and I actually surprised myself as I ran around 8km both times, at a decent pace and without stopping. The longer runs were more difficult, but I felt really proud of myself knowing that I could do it if I put my mind to it. It also definitely showed the bonus of getting outdoors and running on different terrains and up hills etc. I’m looking forward to doing more running when the sun finally makes an appearance in preparation for the half marathon.
4. Mind over matter
As I said, stamina is not my strong point, and there would be times when running that I actually felt like just packing it in altogether. It’s true what they say, there definitely is a “wall” that you have to get through, and for me it always comes up in the second third of a run, if that makes sense. At first, I’m doing pretty well, then I hit this wall where my body is almost screaming at me, questioning what on earth I am doing. Shortly after, you break through, your body gets comfortable and you feel as though you can keep going for far longer. As well as training your body, you have to train your mind and get into that mindset that you can do this, and that you will. That was probably one of the most difficult aspects of training for me, but on race day there are so many people around you, cheering you on and encouraging you to keep going. If only there was a little group of people cheering me on during my training runs…
5. Mix it up with different work outs
As well as working on my running training I enjoyed taking part in different classes at my gym to improve my overall fitness. I found spin classes really helpful as it loosened my legs up a little the day before my scheduled runs, and I also took part in weight training to help tone my legs and gain a little muscle strength. It also meant I was never bored at the gym and I learned to love my body again, something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time.
6. Look after your body
It’s true when they say that training for any sort of race almost becomes a lifestyle, and I also ensured I was eating well, getting plenty of sleep and making sure not to burn the candles at both ends too. It really is amazing what a little self-care can do, and I loved that feeling of waking up on a Sunday morning ready to skip to the gym, rather than sprint to the toilet bowl. I’ve completely overhauled my life, and I feel so much better for it. Of course, I’ve enjoyed parties and nights out here and there. I’ve eaten plenty of pizza and have had a glass of prosecco or two, but my training regime reminded me that this was something I only wanted to enjoy now and again. I had more important things to focus on.
Now, my next focus is the Half Marathon in October, and I know that I really need to up my distance and get outside more in order to complete it comfortably. I plan to join a social running club, which would really push me outside of my comfort zone, and I also want to try and enjoy running by myself more. I do find it difficult to run long distance when I’m on my own, but it’s something I really need to get into.
Do you enjoy running?
Lots of love. xoxo