It’s that time of year when the country unanimously declares a fitness kick and the local gym becomes a sea of lycra.
Hands up if you vowed to run a 10k despite never having run one before in your life? You are not alone, as I did the very same thing last year. I survived, and so can you!
You may be feeling daunted by the pounding of running shoes, and I’m here to share some thoughts and advice with you. What qualifies me to do this?
I returned to running after a long period of recovering from bone problems in my hips and was chosen as one of Radcliffe’s Great Runners for the Great Manchester Run. After it was confirmed, I had no choice but to run!
No backing out, I was entering and running my very first 10k. My average distance around this time was 5k or less, so I definitely had some improving to do.
Although we received a lot of help and training tips as part of Radcliffe’s Great Runners, there were still a lot of surprises for me on the day.
Here’s what I wish someone had told me in preparation for my first 10k race:
Nothing can prepare you for the atmosphere of your first race
Seriously. I was in so much awe that day and I was on such a massive high that I felt seriously underwhelmed when it was all over.
Don’t try to keep up with everyone else at the start
You’ll just tireout sooner because your body isn’t used to someone else’s pace. Better to find your comfortable pace, let the faster runners in front, and you won’t burn out early on. Remember: your race, your pace.
Know the route
You can at least work out how far you have left if you know what landmark is halfway around. This is particularly useful if you have found yourself fatiguing sooner than you would’ve wanted.
Be prepared for the worst
Personally, for me, this means vomiting - something that never happens to me. But the last incline made my stomach hurtle upwards within nano seconds of crossing the finish line. It’s happened at several other races, but because I’m prepared for that possibility, I’ve usually managed to keep my stomach where it belongs.
Follow your training plan
Don’t just wing it. If you miss a run for any reason, don’t try to catch it up. Just pick up where you left off. You have to put some work in for the results. You wouldn’t sit a driving exam without lessons or practice, would you?
Leave enough time for travel
I recently almost missed a run due to a meltdown of public transport, and I’m usually there an hour before I need to be. I hate being late, and if I’m not there at least 20 minutes early, I’m running late.
Don’t try anything new on the day
An old one that you may have heard. Don’t try any new gels or drinks on the day, in case they affect your stomach. Don’t wear any new clothing for fears of chafing, rubbing or blistering. It will make your run seem like hell if you do.
No other race will actually measure up to it
It was definitely my favourite race, although one of my hardest. I think part of this is because it was the first time that I felt like I had some control over my bones. I’d struggled with distances over 5k and completing double this was such an achievement.
You will enter more races
This may be because I’ve ran for the past few years but I immediately came home and signed up for several more races (I ended 2015 having completed seven; I didn’t foresee any at the start). Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Your official picture may not be that great - or even come out
The photographer will capture you moments before you spot them- usually when you are questioning your sanity for entering such an event. I bought one of my awful ones purely because it was from my very first race, and while I’m not a photogenic runner, I’ve actually felt saddened by the races where I didn’t get an official picture.