From actually training to admitting that running can be pretty boring
It feels like every man, woman, child and their dog has completed a 10k, so they can’t be that hard, right? With that in mind, I decided to give the Brighton 10k a go.
I crammed in a few runs here and there and considered myself born ready. How wrong I was. I totally underestimated the race and it was hellish. I suffered for every bad thing I have done in my life, and then some more for the naughty things I am yet to do.
If I had my time again, which I don’t plan to organise anytime soon, here are some pointers I might follow and that I recommend for anyone else starting their training.
For the love of God, please get a training plan
I started with good intentions by printing off a 10k running plan, but after a week post-work drinks, holidays and general laziness got in the way. Only the week before the race did I really begin to train. Go forth and learn from my mistake: find a plan that you like the look of, and works around your actual schedule, not the one you imagine you have. Don’t plan to get up at 6am if you are a night owl, because be honest with yourself, you will never be that person. You are old enough to know that now. Schedule in a 10pm run instead.
Set your own goals, not ones your friends set for you
Much like going on a diet, everyone wants to give you some 10k advice. Ignore them.
My nerdy running mate berated me for not using my iPhone to track my routes and distance, and the guilt of never getting around to downloading an app stopped me from running at times. Thinking back, the days I enjoyed running most was when I set myself small time goals. Running for 30 minutes, then on my next run 40 minutes, until I got to around the one hour mark. If using stats works for you, then by all means go for it. But if you just like the simplicity of running, don’t let the data geeks intimidate you. People were running from sabre tooth tigers in the stone age without apps.
It’s OK to admit that running is boring
I got hella bored of running by week three, hence my drifting off to the pub, or not really picking it back up after my holiday.
I know there is some cult-like adoration of running, but let’s be frank: moving your legs up and down can be boring. Speaking to Saucony’s head coach Tom Craggs, the way around this is to cross train. Your heart doesn’t know the difference between running, cycling, or swimming, so if you feel that you can’t face another minute of pounding the pavement do something fun instead.
Wear the right kit
Running’s popularity is in large part due to its accessibility, but don’t underestimate supportive trainers and clothes that you can breathe in. Half way through training I swapped my old trainer for some new Saucony Freedom ISOs, and I immediately stopped feeling a pain in the arch of my foot. I also tried out 2XU compression leggings, which helped reduce my muscle fatigue on the day of the race: a good job considering the lack of training I’d done.
When training, try not to cut out on food groups. You might be using your 10k as a kickstart to getting into shape, but restricting carbs or fats will leave you feeling tired and unable to train. Go on, pick up the bread roll, it’s ok.
The night before, remember that racing is not just an opportunity to guilt free carb gorge. You are not doing a marathon and having a heavy stomach of food can make you feel like sluggish. I ate a huge bowl of ramen, pork ribs and steam buns before my race - do what I say, not what I did. Digesting a lot of food and running does not mix well.
On the actual day of the race, start off slow and if you really want to push yourself, save it for the last few kilometres, otherwise you’ll peak too early and the rest of the race will feel like torture.
Finally, as cheesy as it is, have fun. The day of the race is full of really nice people cheering you on, and making you feel that all is not lost in this cruel dark world. Enjoy it.