A couple of months ago, after another week of sweaty spin sessions, treadmill interval training and a Sunday long run, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t taken part in an ‘official’ race since the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2014. Considering how much I loved the RPH experience this seemed crazy, so I set about finding a race in London which would both challenge me in terms of distance and give me that great sense of achievement which only crossing a finishing line can.

Deciding on a 10km race was fairly easy – I run 5km on a regular basis and have joined my weekly Park Run to help push myself at this distance, but another half-marathon felt like too much of a stretch considering I only tend do go up to 12km on my ‘long’ runs at the moment.  After a bit of research I found the BHF 10km, and with Earlybird tickets costing just £13 decided to sign up straight away.

Taper Week

My typical week tends to include a couple of spin sessions, a couple of treadmill runs and a long outdoor run on a Sunday, a routine which I’ve kept up for well over a year now. It’s become such a habit that it didn’t  dawn on me that I had a race until 3 days before, by which time I’d already over done it in terms of race week training.

Nevertheless, I took the next couple of days to rest up and made sure that I was eating well balanced meals with slightly more calories than I would tend to, and incorporating lots of morning and evening stretching into my day.

Race Day

Come race day I was feeling strong, but surprisingly nervous and daunted by the distance.  There’s no denying that 10km is a tricky one; unlike a 5km you can’t go flat out and hope for the best, but there are still targets you want to hit and for me that was getting my first sub 50 minute time.  At a pace of 05:00 per/km this seemed achievable and is similar to what I run in training, but for some reason I didn’t feel convinced I’d be able to maintain this for the full 10km.

Nevertheless, I joined in with the light hearted warm up and got so carried away at the front that I missed all the ‘serious’ runners heading off to the start, and ended up right near the back of the crowd, which meant a lot of weaving and dodging when we did finally set off.  It was also my first time running without any equipment, which I found to be a totally liberating experience.  You learn to listen to your body instead of looking at the numbers, and I was surprised to see a sub 24min time as I completed the first 5km lap.

Knowing that I was on target to reach my goal gave me the boost I needed to finish the second lap, although at points it felt like my legs were getting me nowhere and I was convinced I’d gone well over my 5min/km pacing. It was such a relief to approach the home straight and see that the clock had only just flicked over to 48 minutes (I started a minute late too) and the huge rush of seeing those numbers even gave me the energy for a surprise sprint finish.

My end time was 47:43, which I couldn’t have been happier with!  The only thing to dampen the day was the later realisation that there had been a lot of complaints of a short course, by around -0.2km, and although I know I’d still have finished under 50mins regardless, I’m determined to go the full distance next time!

How have other people found the transition from sub 50 to the next notable 10km time? Any pearls of wisdom?

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