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?

Five ways running could make you happier

I am not a runner. I could never be a runner. My boobs are too big and my ankles too weak. I hate being out of breath. It’s boring. It’s too difficult. It’s raining / hailing / snowing outside.

These are the things I used to tell myself about running. But, more recently, through sheer desperation to get fit in a way that fits around work, parenting and a budget, I started running. I did the Couch to 5K programme, which involves interval training, starting very gently to work up to 5K.

My friends were impressed that I was running 5K. They asked me if I’d thought of doing a 10K running event. NO WAY! said I. Why would I want to do a silly thing like that? I don’t need to prove myself.

But shortly after that conversation, The Children’s Society asked me to run the London Vitality 10K and blog about it in support of their work. My blogging obsession converged with my newfound running skills and a desire to help the charity, and thus began my 10K training journey.

With less than a month to go until the big day, I’m actually amazed at the progress I’ve made. Yes, there have been setbacks: illness, work commitments, very inclement weather and even grief. But at the same time I’ve proved to myself that I can run 8K at a decent speed (and if I can do 8k, what’s another 2k?), and have increased my speed at running 5K. I’m now confident that, barring any disasters, I can complete the 10K on the big day before they close the course (i.e. in less than an hour and a half).

And I want to urge everyone to give running and especially training for an event a try. Unless your GP tells you not to, I believe that anyone can run. And the benefits are about more than just fitness. Here are some of the serious and less serious ways that training for this event has improved my life:

Mental health

Before my training really took off, I was suffering from some serious anxiety problems. But since I really started amping up my running efforts, the anxiety has just disappeared. The running has also been absolutely essential in helping me deal with my grief at losing my grandmother recently. She is my number one top most loved person other than my husband and children. Running has given me space to contemplate and address that loss.

Perseverance

I am so surprised and pleased with myself for sticking with my training. I never do as much as I want to or hope, but it’s clear that there has been an improvement since I started this journey in February. Some people doubted my ability to train for such an event, but I’ve proven that Marty McFly (from Back to the Future if you were born yesterday) is right: “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”.

Confidence

I haven’t lost a single ounce of weight doing all this running. Mainly because it makes me mega hungry and I just can’t be bothered to diet on top of all the other stuff going on in my life. But my clothes fit better, my rear end is tighter and I just feel better. I’m technically overweight according to BMI scales (which I don’t entirely agree with), but the running has proved to me that health and fitness isn’t just a number on a scale.

Fashion sense

Running clothes tend to be brightly-coloured and tight-fitting. I have a bright green top, skin-tight running tights and day-glo orange running shoes. Nothing will make you feel more daring than dressing in a ridiculous clashing ensemble composed of bright colours and spandex. It’s made me a bit more confident in my style generally. See featured photo for a representation of the sheer blinding colour of my trainers.

Washing

My commitment to running has increased my commitment to doing the washing because:

(a) Running clothes are expensive. I have two sets and I’m not buying any more. So they need to be washed.

(b) They’re smelly.

And you can’t do just the running clothes as they don’t make up a full load. So I’ve been totes catching up with my washing just because running forces me to do the washing.

And by catching up, I mean the hamper is merely full, rather than overflowing.

I’m running 10k on 29 May and it’s going to be bloody hard work. But the money I’m raising will help children and young people suffering from mental health problems, abuse, debt and a whole host of other rubbish things. If you’d like to help The Children’s Society improve the lives of these kids, please check out my JustGiving page.