With Christmas fast approaching, the nights are getting longer and colder, the crisper weather is upon us, here at Pinches, we are starting to plan ahead for some new challenges in the New Year. This time of year is a wonderful opportunity to prepare for our couch to 10K! Stephanie Jones, Pinches Chief Medical Officer, is going to give you some tips to help you plan for your run and some common pitfalls to watch out for!
Preparing for a 10k run: couch to 10k in less than 5 months
I would like to give you the benefit of my personal experience as someone who went from being a complete non-runner to running a 10k in less than 5 months, with a decent time and no injuries. If you start preparing now you will be ready for 2019 10K and half marathons which will be starting again in February.
How did I do it?
I confess I was quite anxious about the idea when our Business Development Manager suggested it in March, and I considered just politely declining on the basis that I may actually die. But as the Clinical Lead for the practice I felt I ought to support our team and as it was for a good cause (East Cheshire Hospice) I decided to put my energies into it and make sure it was a success. I read some blogs and asked for advice from friends who were good at running. I knew I had no serious medical conditions or joint problems so I just had to make sure my muscles and cardiovascular system were in good shape for the day. I made sure I had some trainers that fit me (my previous pair had been thrown away many years earlier and I hadn’t needed any since!) and I made a plan.
I started off with some short runs, mostly brisk walking with little spurts of running. I was really out of breath during those spurts and had to stop frequently to walk again and only started to run again once I caught my breath. I made sure I got some rest days and didn’t go running on consecutive days. I immediately started to get “shin splints” in one of my legs as soon as I started training. So at first, I rested for a few days in between each run to allow it to repair, warmed up before running and stretched properly after each run. I also ran more slowly and paid attention to how I was running with that leg and what made the pain better or worse. The shin splints went away after a few weeks as I grew stronger. Little by little, I was able to run further and further before getting out of breath. I worked out which times of day I could run the best and got to know myself and my limits. I started to enjoy pushing myself further each time, seeing my limits grow and the amount I could run before stopping became longer. I downloaded apps that tracked my progress and at first, was horrified at how short the distances were. Then they got longer.
The final countdown:
Just over a week before the race, I went for a run, up and down the hills between Whaley Bridge and Chapel-en-le-Frith. I used every trick in the book to get me up those hills and keep myself going, and I knew that there was a downhill section on the way home to look forward to. I used the Chapel police station as a goal and decided I could turn back if I could reach it. My ribs and hips started aching in places I didn’t used to have muscles, but I kept going, knowing I needed a landmark and if I didn’t reach the police station I wouldn’t be able to measure how far I’d gone. I was so pleased later when I plotted my route and found out it was 7k! This was the furthest I’d ever run in my life (possibly all added together except for the recent training). A few days before the race I went to the Alderley Edge bypass and faced the enemy. It felt never-ending to run and my legs felt like lead by the time I reached the end. I waited thankfully to allow cars to pass on my way back across the road to my starting point and was disappointed when a kind driver waved for me to cross. I could hardly lift my feet. But I reached the car and checked my app and discovered I’d over-achieved – I’d run more than 10k. So, relieved, I rested until the race day, knowing that I could do it.
Race day arrives:
On the day itself there was such an energy and buzz from all the other people all supporting each other, and the supporters who came out to cheer us on, that it was so much easier than the practice runs. It was a lot of fun but a lot of hard work, and it was great to be involved in something so special. I beat my previous time and felt fine at the end of the race but glad it was over! I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to give it a try but you need to be prepared to train properly!