After years of people telling me how exhilarating running is and expressing their undying love for it, when Sure Run to the Beat contacted me about running in their 10k race, I couldn’t say no. As a non-runner in relatively good health, 10k sounded like enough of a challenge without seeming impossible. I was given just 2 months and heaps of advice to help prepare me.
Not knowing where on earth to start, I had myself fitted for some running shoes and I was straight down to Fitness First* to get on that treadmill. I had considered running around the neighbourhood but after scare stories in the local newspapers, decided that I’d rather be in an air conditioned controlled environment with cctv thanks very much. Training on a treadmill isn’t ideal as you don’t work the muscles that propel yourself forward and the lovely even running surface doesn’t prepare you for potholes and general bumps that you find when running out doors. You could join a local running club or run in groups. Fitness First (Run to the Beat partner company) is currently partnering with Home Run in a fantastic initiative that takes your bags to a designated club a couple of times a week while you run your commute. As a complete newbie, I was a little scared that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with group running so the gym is perfect for me.
Where to start
10,000 meters is a huge distance to tackle so I needed a plan of how to work my way up to that amount. Luckily, I’m not the only one who has come up against this problem and there are various apps you can use. I downloaded 10k Trainer for my phone which takes you through a step by step (quite literally) training program where you warm up, then run and walk in intervals before cooling down. It also lets you listen to your music at the same time as running the app so the app’s voice over will tell you when to start running or walking.
Don’t make my mistake
My training plan didn’t go quite as smoothly as I envisaged. Instead of a steady curve of improvement, I found that my enthusiasm meant that half way through my training I developed shin splints. A common runners’ problem that’s always associated with “too much, too soon” the repetitive action meant that muscles that I didn’t even realise humans had were suddenly being over worked. The solution? Resting and foam rolling.
Don’t let it defeat you
With my training plan well and truly scuppered, I took the advice of some professionals and gave the running a rest. But not wanting to let my fitness slip I was advised that the best thing I could do is some HIIT (high intensity interval training) which combines cardio with working multiple muscle groups in short bursts. There are lots of options when it comes to HIIT, I went to the Fitness First BEAT Concept club where you train wearing a heart rate monitor and your heart rate is displayed on screens in the club. You then receive an email after your workout with your results and how many calories you’ve burned. Access to BEAT is included in some Fitness First memberships or they also have a pay as you go option for just £14. Sure, Run to the Beat and Fitness First also treated us to a media day prior to the even where they put us through the world’s most grueling warm up, a short run around Wembeley followed by a Tabata session. Me and my shin splints were grumbling all the way round the shortened 3.6km course, thankfully we were spurred on by the enthusiastic Fitness First guru’s and given a taste of the music to keep us going. I was grateful for the Posi+iv energy drinks that greeted us at the end of the morning.
Being my first ever race, I didn’t know what to expect. Was there an unwritten etiquette that runners needed to abide by? Sure Run to the Beat start times are organised by your estimated speed. So the fastest runners go first and the slowest start last. Some races aren’t organised in this way and the general etiquette is, if you’re a slower runner, to stick to the edge of the lane so the faster runners can get through without having to push or shout. Thankfully the race had a fantastic atmosphere helped by the energetic beats and people around the entire route. Nobody warned me however, that if you walk in front of spectating children, they will shout “don’t clap mummy, that lady’s walking!”
Just believe you can
Even on the race day itself I wasn’t sure I would make it through the entire 10k, especially considering most of the course was uphill. There were even points during the race where the emergency ambulances and paramedics were stationed (just in case) and I genuinely considered stopping for a breather and possibly a lie down on a stretcher. Amazingly the crowd and the atmosphere kept me going and the last 4k seemed to fly by. I made it round and I have a medal to prove it, even though I genuinely didn’t even think I could…it doesn’t matter that I came 7,110th out of 8,000.
Post race snacks
Because this is important…I was told numerous times that the best thing to eat after working out is something with protein in it. So I was so happy to be greeted at the finish line with Wheyhey Ice Cream (which tastes delicious and not at all like you’re eating a solid protein shake) and lots more Posi+iv drinks. The festival and music were the cherry on top of the whole experience.
Sure Run to the Beat wasn’t the scary ordeal I envisaged running to be. Whilst it is a massive challenge, it’s entirely do-able, even for a novice like myself. If you’re up for the challenge, register your interest for 2015 here.
* (courtesy of the PR company)