Passion for running
Hello, I’m Anna, a runner and all-round fitness fanatic! I’m currently in my final year at university studying a history degree and decided to share my passion for running through my Instagram and blog, The Upside-Down Runner. The name Upside-Down Runner comes from the fact (you guessed it!), I also love being upside down. Having grown up as a gymnast I found a passion for fitness early on and this continued into my teens when I started to run. I’d say I’ve probably only been ‘seriously’ running the last few months, but I can honestly say with every run I love it a bit more. My first half marathon is right around the corner and with all the excitement I also decided to sign up for my first marathon! Manchester 2020 here I come!
As I said, I’ve only been seriously training for the past few months, now this isn’t from lack of trying. Due to multiple injuries across the past few years from over-training and an unstructured running plan I have learnt a thing or two. So, when ZAAZEE contacted me asking to write a post I thought it was only appropriate to share some of the things I wish I knew when I first started running further.
Like most people my running journey started with the humble 5k, back in 2017 I made it my goal to complete this distance! My next challenge was going faster and week after week I went back to the same 5K, shaving a little bit more time off. Finally, after a month or two I felt like I was running quick enough to move onto my next endeavour, although at this point, I had by no means mastered the art of a 5k and I definitely still haven’t (My pb has remained 21:49 since June). This is where the 10k comes in, I know the prospect of doubling the distance that you have just managed to conquer can seem like a daunting task but believe me the 10k is a great distance! It’s a fun distance to train for, long enough that you can improve your stamina significantly but also short enough that training isn’t going to take over your life and you can absolutely see big improvements in a short amount of time. So, if you feel like you are ready to take the next step then follow along and here are some things that you might like to consider.
Build up your mileage slowly!
This is one thing that I learnt the hard way. Your body is not going to react well if you suddenly rack up your weekly mileage without slowly building up that foundation. The first time I completed a 10k I was so elated that I thought it would be a great idea to do this multiple times a week because logically if I wanted to run further and faster surely this meant I just needed to run more? WRONG, although to a certain extent you do need to run more to be able to do a 10k, this needs to be progressively done over numerous weeks. The experts suggest that you only increase your weekly mileage by 10%. Inevitably I ended up injured, my ankles couldn’t hack my bad decisions which left me unable to run and very deflated. If you have already managed to run a 5k you should have a solid foundation, just remember adding a little bit at a time will help your body adjust and prevent injuries from occurring.
Learning to pace yourself
This goes without saying but pacing a 10k is quite different to a 5k, in my early running days I pretty much only ran in one gear as I like to say, however with practice you learn that having a sustainable pace is important. 10k is double the distance of a 5k so you’re probably not going to be able to run as fast, if you sprint at the beginning you will probably burn out pretty soon. When you first start to run further its important that your running should feel comfortable, during your long runs slow down so that you can still hold a conversation without panting too much, this is a good way of building up your endurance.
I think for me running a 10k was almost more of a mental challenge than it was physically. Your body is capable of a lot of things you just need to set your mind to it. Pushing your body to new limits is one of the things I love about tackling new challenges and although you may feel nervous its important to push away those doubts and trust that your legs can carry you all the way. You know your body better than anyone and if you’ve already managed a 5k then you’re already halfway there! For me particularly during race day it helps if I give myself a positive self-talk, especially while I’m running, reinforcing my mind that I am a capable runner, helps keep me motivated. I distinctly remember in my first 10k race that for the last few kms I kept telling myself that I could do it and I was a good runner and believe it or not I managed to go a lot faster than I thought I could. I managed to get a time of 46:30 when I had really only been aiming for 50 minutes. This goes to show how powerful positive thinking can be. Believe in yourself!
Running requires a lot of leg strength and power and I think a mistake people often make is only including running in their training plans. A big benefit of training for a 10k is that it gives you more flexibility in fitting in different styles of workouts. I regularly do strength training at the gym and I think this has really helped in giving me a good base. Not only do stronger legs mean you can run further and faster, but it also means you are less likely to get injured. Core strengthening and flexibility exercises will help improve your running form, making you more efficient. If you’re short on time this doesn’t necessarily have to be done at the gym, a quick 15-20-minute session including some simple exercises such as planks can make all the difference!
Rest & recovery
Like any training plan make sure you are properly recovering! Especially since you are suddenly increasing the stress on your body. You need time to adjust so your muscles can repair and recover, this will only make you stronger! Training for a 10k can be done in three to four sessions a week so just make sure that you take recovery seriously, don’t be tempted to train lots more because you think it will make you a better runner. If anything, you’ll probably end up injured which can be a big setback.