The slow runner’s guide to surviving a 10k, and why you should try it

I did it! I ran the London Vitality 10k! I’m pretty amazed that I managed to run the whole way without stopping, albeit slowly. My time was 1 hour and 16 minutes, which is slightly faster than the time I’d predicted for myself. It’s amazing to be successful at doing something that you never thought you could do.

The tips I shared before the race, about how to deal with your nerves and get ready to race, definitely helped me on the day. A few other prep things helped as well:

  • I woke up extra early so I didn’t have to rush getting ready. I faffed around the house packing my bag for the day, and made myself a scrambled egg muffin for a good protein and carb-rich breakfast.
  • I turned up at the race venue early too.
  • I waited at the start so that I was in the front of my start wave. It was fun being at the front, plus I didn’t have to worry about passing people – they all had to pass me instead!

During the race, I had a few strategies to keep me going:

  • I decided not to wear headphones and instead was mindful of my surroundings. It was a wonderful atmosphere, running among London landmarks, and there were so many people cheering, lining nearly the entire length of the course. Strangers cheering you on is a great motivator!
  • My main rule for myself was to just keep running. I knew if I stopped and walked a bit, it would destroy my mojo.
  • I repeated mantras in my head when it got tough: “Just keep running” and “Slow and steady wins the race” were what worked for me.
  • I made sure to get water when it was offered, which I’m sure helped keep me from keeling over.

The finisher’s t-shirt and the rather attractive medal were a nice part of completing the 10k. But the thing that made the experience amazing was the way I proved to myself that I could persevere with something I found very difficult.

In the days after the race, I’ve been finding it easier to make better choices for myself in daily life, because I’ve proven to myself that I have willpower.

Should I sit and have a coffee or clean the house? I ran a 10k! House cleaning presents no challenge to me!

Not to say there aren’t times when coffee would be a better choice. I’m just saying that reminding myself of what I can achieve when I put my mind to something, helps motivate me to do the work I need to do.

You might think that running is not for you. But I’m here to tell you that unless your GP has told you not to, it’s worth at least giving it a try. A few years ago, I would have said that I can’t run. Hated it. Said my big boobs would give me a black eye and no sports bra was up to the job. Said I had weak ankles. But now look what I’ve done!

So please forgive this somewhat NOT humble bragging post, but I am usually better at noticing my shortcomings than celebrating my achievements. I hope that my small triumph will inspire you to have a go at something that scares you, and then celebrate when you succeed.

I ran the London Vitality 10k in support of The Children’s Society. They waived the entry fee in return for my blogging, but I still fundraised £280 to support their work helping vulnerable children in the UK. My JustGiving page is still active if anyone else would like to donate.

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How to deal with feeling nervous about your first running event

As my regular readers will know, I’ve been training for a 10k charity run since February. The big day is now upon us, in just 3 days. I feel relatively confident about my training. I’ve been working hard at it, and though I decided not to attempt the full 10k in training, I know I can do at least 8k at a decent speed. By decent, I mean at least slightly faster than walking.

However, as I started considering the practicalities of the big day – what to wear, what to bring, what to eat – I found my stomach tying into knots. I’m pretty worried that the whole thing could go catastrophically wrong in one way or another. One thing I’m worried about, which has happened to me for big events in the past, is to be so excited and nervous that I get an upset stomach.

Running and bad stomachs are not a good mix!

So I decided to reach out to some of my fellow bloggers for advice, figuring some of them must have done a run like this as well. Their answers were all really useful, and just hearing their reassurance has made me feel a lot more confident about the whole thing.

So I thought I would share the advice, for anyone else who might be feeling a bit nervous about their first big running event too.

I find that the nerves end up turning into that edgy excitement feeling and can spur you on in a race. Drink plenty of water and do a fun warm up to help reduce the worry. Once you get going you will forget it all and you will love it. Everyone will be in the same boat but that’s why there is usually a fab atmosphere at big runs.

Emma Reed

Imagine yourself doing the run over the next few days and it all going perfectly. Good luck with the run!

Happy Mummy

I was nervous about my first 10k last summer and then the Great North Run but I just kept remembering the medal lol.

Just Average Jen

I was nervous doing a half-marathon, but remember you WILL NOT be last – by a long shot! I think it’s easy to assume you’ll be the “least professional” runner – it’s never true. Be proud and let your achievement carry you. Remember where you started and how far you’ve come. You got this!

The Mumatron

Go somewhere quiet and just breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly for a few minutes. Visualise yourself soaring across that line and the feeling of pride you’ll have when you complete it. (Because you will!😊)

Pink Pink Bear

The build up is absolutely the worst bit. I’m always a mess at the start line and it takes me a mile or so to find my groove. Don’t try to beat the pack and go out too quickly. Just find a steady rhythm and lose yourself in the atmosphere. Then show off your medal at the end. 😊

Mouse, Moo & Me Too

Before a race I pick a mantra and repeat it in my head whilst breathing deeply. Usually something like “I can finish this race” or “I’m strong and confident”. Good luck, remember to run your own race, forget about what everyone else is doing and remind yourself how badass your are for running 10k!

Clare’s Little Tots

So to sum up:

  • Use your nerves to motivate you
  • Enjoy the atmosphere
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don’t worry about your performance – just do your best
  • Don’t worry about anyone else
  • Think positive
  • Use positive visualisation and mindfulness techniques
  • If all else fails, focus on the medal/bragging rights, etc.
  • You (probably) won’t be last (although someone has to be … but it’s no big deal)

Having these points in my head has made me feel 100 times better. Now I have a plan, all I have to do is pack my bag and figure out how to put that timing tag thingy on my trainers.

I’m running the London Vitality 10k and blogging about it to raise money for The Children’s Society, which helps vulnerable children and young people in the UK. If you would like to support me, please go to my JustGiving page.

Have you ever done a physical challenge event? How did it go? Do you have any tips to add?

Running to help vulnerable children

It is perhaps unoriginal to say that the suffering of others is upsetting to me. But becoming a mum has turned me into an absolute mess when I hear sad stories. I can’t watch any of those big charity fundraising programmes on TV because I just sob all the way through.

When I read the paper on the train to work, I’m often fighting back tears. It’s not that I didn’t have empathy before I had kids, but now that I do, that empathy is visceral.

When someone loses their child, I feel the fear of losing my own child.

When someone loses their parent, I think how much the idea of not being there for my own children worries me.

When children are lost, abused, broken, I think of the sweet innocence of my own children and how brutal it would be if that was torn from them.

Children are living in war zones, watching their families being murdered as they run away to escape their own death, rape or enslavement. Children whose families have lost their homes through debt are living in filthy hostels full of drug dealing and despair. Children are living rough to escape abuse at home. Children are sacrificing their childhoods to look after parents who are unable to look after them.

It’s easy to feel helpless when faced with the world’s violence, hatred and despair. I can only find my way through this by resolving to make some small contribution whenever I have the means or opportunity. So when The Children’s Society asked me to support them by doing a 10K in support of their charity and then blogging about it, I saw a great opportunity to help disadvantaged children whilst doing something healthy for me too.

Last year, The Children’s Society worked with over 18,000 vulnerable children and young people, and their campaign wins will bring life-changing support to more than 5.6 million children. I’m not that keen on running to be honest and never thought I would do a 10K. But it’s very motivating to know that by doing something that will improve my health, I will be playing a small part in improving other people’s lives as well.

If you’d like to know more about The Children’s Society and my training plans, please check out this little YouTube video.

How you can help

If you want to support me, the best (and completely free) thing you can do is to share this post on social media.

If you would like to donate to The Children’s Society in support of my 10K run, you can do it on my JustGiving page.

If you would like to get involved in your own charity challenge, check out The Children’s Society’s challenge page.

Tammymum

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Losing the baby weight: Myths vs reality

Once you get pregnant, not only do people start telling you what is safe and unsafe to eat, they also keep reminding you not to “eat for two”. Well, sod that. If I can’t drink and I can’t eat the best cheese, if I’m sick, tired, hormonal and my boobs hurt, you know what I’m going to do? Eat cake. During both of my pregnancies, I ate cake and ice cream and mountains of curry, pizza and peri-peri chicken. And both times I did gain weight which took a lot of time to lose. Plus, I wasn’t exactly skinny to start with. But I don’t regret a single mouthful of sugary goodness, because pregnancy made me feel awful and the cake helped me cope. If you feel the same as me, then you should cake away. Tell any judgemental friends or family that someone on the internet (clearly an expert) said it was fine.

Once you have the baby, the health police stop banging on about how not to poison your baby and gain loads of weight, and start banging on about how to lose the baby weight. Luckily, these days celebrities are being a little more honest about how bloody difficult it is. But there are still countless articles trying to give you “realistic” tips about how to use the weight-loss tricks of celebrities. I’ll tell you how celebs lose baby weight. Two things:

  1. They have bottomless pits of money to hire personal trainers and diet chefs and nannies to look after their babies all night.
  2. It’s their job to lose the weight.

So I’m here to tell you a real person’s view on losing baby weight. I think there are loads of myths about losing the baby weight that are propagated even by our well-meaning friends and family. These conspire to make new mums feel worse about their shape. And the worse you feel, the harder it is to make the changes you want to make. So here are my biggest baby weight-loss myths and some tips (from my humble experience) to help you actually lose the weight in real life (if you want to).

Biggest baby-weight loss myths

“9 months on and 9 months off”

This one has a good intention behind it, implying that it takes as long to lose the weight as it does to gain it. But in my experience, 9 months is not long enough. It took me the best part of 2 years to lose the baby weight after my first, and I’m still working on the weight gained from my 22-month old. The problem is, raising babies is hard work. It’s physical, emotional, mentally straining and you don’t get much sleep. These factors combine to make you reach for the nearest chocolate-y sugary fatty-fat-food full of energy to help you get through another day. You might not have time to cook proper meals or if you do cook them, you may never eat them. My first son used to cry like clockwork whenever I sat down for a proper meal. As a result I used to eat like I’d been stranded on a desert island living on coconut water for the last year.

“Breastfeeding helps you lose the baby weight”

This is a big one that they like to roll out in those wonderful guilt-trip pamphlets and signs as displayed in hospital and given you by health visitors. Now, as I’ve explained in my breastfeeding story, I was only able to achieve mixed-feeding with both of my children. So perhaps that is why breastfeeding didn’t do jack for helping me lose weight. But whether or not your baby is fully, partially, or not-at-all breastfed, don’t feel bad if it has no correlation to you losing weight. Breastfeeding makes you produce all sorts of hormones that you don’t normally produce. Plus, if you’re on the pill, there are only certain pills you can take when you’re breastfeeding and one of the side effects of progesterone-only pills is weight gain. I have never been able to achieve any significant weight loss until I’ve stopped breastfeeding.

“Just eat a bit less”

Someone actually said this to me when my baby was only 3 months old. I was tucking into a fairly modest plate of pasta and he’s all like, “maybe you should have a smaller portion?”. Pfffft. I had my stomach cut open 3 months ago. I was up all freaking night with a baby hanging off my boob. You try it and see if you want to eat less sodding pasta.

“Try some postnatal fitness classes”

I actually highly recommend these. But not because they will necessarily help you lose weight. They might, or they might not. I did baby yoga with both children, walked miles and miles pushing buggies around, and tried some more difficult mum fit classes too. None of these resulted in weight loss (any calories burned were replaced with sleep-deprived-chocolate-binges). However, the exercise improved my mood and I met other mums for potential friendship/coffee drinking/joint chocolate binges. The baby yoga was also a lovely way to bond with my baby.

“You can get back to jogging 6 months after birth”

Maybe if you are Jessica Ennis-Hill or Paula Radcliffe. My dabbling in running before both of my children was not fortifying enough to get back to it easily. I tried to start jogging again when my youngest was 6 months old. It lasted for about a week before I put my back out and caught the latest virus that was going round Eldest’s preschool. Get back to your usual exercise when you’re ready, but don’t feel bad if it doesn’t work out, because babies are hard work. You will eventually be able to resume (vaguely) normal service.

“You have to lose the baby weight”

You may actually be comfortable in your skin post-baby just the way you are. If you are, then chill. Don’t let anyone tell you what your body should look like. The way you feel is the only thing that matters.

Things that helped me lose baby weight

What works for me might not work for you, but I’m going to tell you anyway in case it does.

Finding the right diet

When you’re ready to watch your diet, that is. Based on my experience, I wouldn’t recommend dieting before baby is at least 9 months old, sleeping well at night, and until you’ve stopped breastfeeding.

There is no magic bullet for dieting, but what I’ve found is that each person can find something that works for them. I’ve had friends who’ve lost the weight and kept it off successfully with Weight Watchers, the South Beach diet and Slimming World. But for me, it was The Fast Diet. Even before I had kids, I could never stick to any sort of diet or even so-called “just eating healthy”. But The Fast Diet, also known as 5:2 or intermittent fasting, has been a miracle for me. You limit your calories to 500/day for just 2 days a week and eat reasonably (i.e. whatever you want without totally bingeing) the rest of the time. After both children I’ve lost around 2 stone (24 lbs) with this diet, after never being successful with any other. It sounds crazy but if you read the book it makes sense, and there are loads of other health benefits from fasting. It’s made me crave healthier foods. I’m currently obsessed with avocado, and that’s a phrase I never thought I’d say.

Finding a realistic exercise programme that fits into mum life

The only thing that has worked for me for getting fit and keeping fit is the Couch to 5K programme. It’s a running programme where you gradually work up, through interval training, from being a “couch potato” to being able to run 5K. It seriously works, no matter how unfit you are. It helped me get over a dislike of running. And it’s a great solution for a mum, because you can do it any time and with no special equipment. However, you may find something else is your thing. The biggest thing is to remember is that any exercise is good. Even if you aren’t consistent, one gym session a month is better than none.

Getting your brain on your side

I’ve found that I’m enjoying my exercise sessions more lately and I think it’s due to things that I’ve changed in my life that keep my mind busy while I’m exercising. In the past, I found exercise so boring! But since I’ve started blogging, I’m coming up with post ideas in my head the whole time I’m running and the time flies by. I forget I’m running. I’ve also subscribed to a music streaming service, and it’s really helped to always have fresh, new music to listen to. It’s also helped me to set a goal/reward to look forward to. For me, I’m hoping to look and feel awesome in time for my 20-year highschool reunion next summer.

Enlist support from your family

If your partner resents the time you spend exercising, or hates the food you cook on your diet, you are not going to succeed. Talk to your partner and explain how important it is to have his/her support. Support your partner’s diet and fitness goals as well, and see where you can cooperate in meal planning and family scheduling. If you have older children, you can also get them to join in on your exercise. My 4yo loves a bit of stretching or calisthenics.

Accept setbacks

Being a mum is a bloody hard job. If your child gets sick, or you get sick, or you have another life emergency, or a bereavement, or you get injured during your exercise efforts (I’ve had a hundred bad back or twisted ankle incidents), you might end up having to take a break from diet and exercise. Try not to let it get you down. It’s real life. As long as you keep trying whenever you realistically can, you’re doing great.

As for me, I’m doing okay. My youngest is not yet two, and I have about 5 more pounds of baby weight to lose. Then I can tackle what I like to call my “beer and burrito” weight.

Are you eager to lose the baby weight or are you happy just how you are? Do you have any weight loss and fitness tips you’d like to share?

Cuddle Fairy
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