Monday, October 1, 2018

Running a Breezy 10K for Beginners

If you have been running 5K for ages and felt that it’s time to challenge yourself a bit, then a 10K run is perfect for levelling up. 10K is a mid-distance run which can be comfortably completed below 90 minutes if you do a run-walk sequence. Faster runners can easily bag this below 60 minutes or a decent finish between 60 to 70 minutes, but we are not going into that territory for now.

I have been running 10K for a few months, every weekend in fact, since I decided to resume clocking more running hours to get fit and live a healthier lifestyle to compensate for my caffeine and junk food fix.  The upside was that my sickness-prone self improved significantly. 

It was not easy resuming the training after a seven-year hiatus. I started running when we lived in Singapore and my friends encouraged me into running for leisure. The effort to start all over again required patience and a great deal of commitment to get to a point where running 10K becomes a breeze. You need patience because you have to accept that running from zero for the first 200 meters would leave you breathless already on that first day; tenacity and determination- because running for 10K means making that time, whether it is on a hot summer weekday afternoon or waking up at 4:30 A.M. on a cold, rainy weekend instead of being able to grab extra hours of sleep.

500 meters away from the finish line of the Skechers Performance Run
where I ran my 3rd 10K and my best time so far!
photo credits: Starting Line PH

Here are a few tips I can share to beginners like me who decided to make that next big step and level up to 10K:

1. Find a comfortable pace and stick to it.  I started running for fun. In fact, I still do.  I happily run with my turtle-paced 9 min/km while listening to my favorite go-to music and simply enjoy watching life around me.  When running an official race, I stick to my training pace while everyone else were running past me.  Don’t give in to the temptation of trying to run with the bandwagon (i.e., everyone else’s pace) if it is simply not your pace. It will wear you down and zap all your running energy in no time.  I find that when I stuck to my pace, I finish the race while maintaining a healthy heart rate level and without any trace of muscle soreness the next day.
My husband who is also into running coached me into getting into a faster pace via this strategy that he researched about and tried it in his own 21K run which he finished below his targeted 2hr 30 minutes (!), but that is another story I will write about someday.

2. Consistency is the name of the game.  Once you made up your mind to run for 10K, be prepared that to finish it comfortably meant clocking in at least 50% of the distance for about 2-3 days in a week in training.  This will help build your strength and endurance which you will definitely need when hitting the grounds for about 60 minutes or so.  I wouldn’t recommend trying to wing it or train less than what is required as this leads to injuries and very sore muscles after the event. The target is to finish strong and not almost dead!
When I trained for my first 10K, I ran 3x a week for 4 weeks running 5K on a treadmill.  In my second 10K race, I was able to run up to 8K on regular training days prior to the event at my comfortable pace.   In my last 10K run at the very first Skechers Performance Run in SM by the Bay, I have been running 10-12K for the last 5 weeks prior to the event itself. I was very happy on the outcome of that run, ending 9 minutes faster than my usual training time and hitting my best pace so far.  I enjoyed the run and appreciated that my last 2K stretch before the finish were my fastest pace and more importantly, I sustained a healthy heart rate throughout the run with no shortness of breath, no fatigue or any other cardiovascular drama during and after the run. Note also that there are many apps that can be downloaded which can give you a training plan to follow.

3.  Maintain a healthy diet regimen.   I admit this is the most challenging part.  We are often psyched to believe that because we run and burn calories as we do so, it gives us the license to eat just about anything we want.  I make a conscious effort to not fall into that trap.  I realized though that when I started running consistently, the temptation to give in to sweet cravings went zap and it was easier to regulate the quantity of what I eat. Quality over quantity, as they say.  Same is true on the race day itself- stay hydrated at the right intervals.  If you have been training prior to the race day itself, you will have a good baseline on when to hydrate and when to take extra fuel.  Before running a 10K, my ritual includes eating a slice of toasted bread with peanut butter, banana and wash it down with water.  The part I found daunting was having to cut down on caffeine and chips several days prior to the run During the race day itself, we found that what worked for me was to refuel every 4K, so I bring power gel or chocolates with me.  It worked perfectly so far.

So, there’s my ten cents worth! If you are planning to level up to 10K soon, stick to the training plan with rigor but most importantly, enjoy the process! You are making an important investment to your health and well-being, and those are priceless.

My 1st  Philippine 10K run at the Runrio Trilogy 2018 races

My best 10K run so far.
I ran several weekends of 10K prior to the race day itself.
It was a very happy run day for me and felt light
and good through out the race.

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