What do you do when Vita Coco get in touch to see if you’d like to run the Manchester Winter Run 10K with them* – despite you having not run for months and months? When this happened to me, I said yes, of course – I’m never one to turn down an opportunity to be active!
This “yes” came from me a whole three weeks ago, so I thought I’d have plenty of time to take the legs out for a stretch, if only to remind them what a bit of distance felt like. Me being me, I completely failed to do that, so on Sunday I ran a 10K race on no run training, having not run any distance close to that since July!
Thankfully, it wasn’t as horrendous as it could have been, and I really enjoyed myself. A lot of the time I analyse things I’ve done wrong on this blog and the lessons gained from that, but for once I feel like I actually did something right, so here’s what I did that made running 10K on no training a really enjoyable experience.
There was fake snow and dancing snowmen on the course, with polar bear hugs and Vita Coco at the finish line – so all that combined made a happy race!
I started off steady.
Adrenaline, excitement and a bit of nervousness usually take over my body at the start of races, meaning I set out way too fast and set myself up for disaster later on in the race. One run I set out at 4 minutes per km and gave myself a stitch 2km in that took me an entire kilometre to walk off..!
At the Winter Run, though, I knew full well that if I set off fast, I’d be on my arse at 500m. I started in the very end wave and hung around at the back of some bigger groups of runners until I’d found my rhythm. This set me up well for the rest of the race, and I even found myself running a bit faster in the second half of the race – something that I’ve never managed to do before!
I ran my own race.
As much as I know I shouldn’t do this, when running races I’ve always eyeballed the other runners, wondering who I was faster, slower, fitter than, and who I should be overtaking or being overtaken by. Sometimes I’d be running alongside someone and I’d decide I had to keep pace with this person, finding it was a complete mistake when they sped off or slowed me down.
Sure, I noseyed at what trainers or leggings other runners were wearing on Sunday, but I didn’t judge anyone, and I didn’t use a random person as my pacer.
I truly didn’t have any expectations.
“What time do you hope to get today?” “Oh, I don’t know, I’m just going out to have fun,” went many a conversation with my fellow run clubbers over previous 10K races – when secretly I was going for a new PB. In fact, every time I went to a 10K race I expected to be able to run my fastest race!
This time I knew full well I wasn’t going to get close to my PB – in fact, I wasn’t completely sure I’d be able to finish the run – so I just took it one step at a time, one small stride in front of the other. It worked, and I made it round in 62 minutes, without breaking from a run at all. Weirdly afterwards I was the happiest I’d been after any 10K before, despite it being the slowest!
I listened to my body.
You’re breathing a bit heavy? Let’s go steadier. There’s a pain in your shoulder? Let’s do some circles to loosen it off. Sound like no-brainers, right? I’ve always been such a PB-chaser that it’s been to the detriment of my own body, and I’ve ignored everything from discomfort to screaming pain during a 10K race, just to get to the finish line a couple of seconds faster than last time.
Not exactly conducive to an enjoyable run. Maybe that’s why I turned myself off running last year! On Sunday I was so chilled that if anything felt tight or niggly, I just slowed it down to give it a shake off. It didn’t lose me any seconds (and who cares if it did?) but I certainly had a much happier race.
All right, it’s not fair to say I’d done no training for this as my aerobic system must be pretty decent from CrossFit, but I certainly wasn’t trained up for a 10K race. I’m not suggesting anyone goes out to run a 10K at full pelt tomorrow after a long period of inactivity – but what I am saying is that if you’re kind enough to yourself, take things steady and don’t try to compete with others, you can sometimes achieve more than you thought you could.