Category Archives: Running

Titanic Quarter 10K (2018) Race Day!

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If you’ve been reading the blog regularly, you’ll know that recently I was training for my next 10K, the Titanic Quarter 10K in Belfast. Well, that race took place on Sunday 8th April and today I’m going to tell you all about it. 

(If you want to catch up on my previous posts first, I’ll have them linked at the bottom of the page!) 

That morning, I was really nervous and quite panicky. I didn’t want to have breakfast because I felt a little ill but I knew that it would be a horrible idea not to have breakfast before a race, so I forced myself to eat. I had so many nerves because in my first 5K race, I had a few panic attacks and when we had done the trial run of the Titanic route, I had a slip up in terms of my anxiety and I started to panic. So understandably, I wasn’t surprised I was nervous. 

IMG-20180408-WA0009.jpg(Pre-race smiles!)

We hadn’t picked our packs up beforehand so we arrived there earlier than usual to make sure we weren’t running behind and to give us good time to pick up the packs. We weren’t expecting to get our t-shirt before the race so we kept our regular t-shirts on and put them in Scott’s bag instead. From what Scott said, they had changed the route slightly from the last time he had taken part, but he said that it was a better route than before. We started out in front of the famous Titanic Belfast so if you were a vistor to the city, it would have been the perfect opportunity to see a tourist attraction. 

I was nervous up until we all started to run, I don’t know why but I have the “first run” fear when I think I’m going to be out of breath in ten seconds, which is crazy because I know I can run a fair distance and be absolutely fine. Once we started though, I was fine. We stayed pretty much at the back from the beginning because we thought I might get caught up in a big crowd and run faster than I should be at the beginning, then be completely exhausted half way through. We were able to pass people easily because we had started at the back, but passing people was the furthest from my mind.  

27467803848_0f1d1a6b91_b-01.jpeg(Photo credit to Athletics NI who managed to get a running shot of me that I’m pretty pleased with.)

I didn’t take any photographs when we were running; I don’t mind stopping while I’m running but for me, it’s different if I’m taking part in a run. Fortunately for me, the Titanic Quarter route is not a scenic one so there weren’t many opportunities for photographs. It’s a fairly boring route to say the least but I’m very glad I had ran it beforehand so I knew what to expect. I think that was part of my problem with the Connswater 5K race; I hadn’t ran it before so I didn’t know when we were turning, and especially with a large crowd, I got myself worried with the uncertainty.  

temporary_file1992367241.jpg(This is the map taken from my Strava so if you know Belfast, you’ll know the route we were following.)

Generally over the course of the race, I felt fine. I had one moment where I thought I might panic but I was able to catch myself fast enough to pace my breathing so I ended up not freaking out. I wasn’t overly exhausted, I knew physically I was fine but about half way through the race, I knew that my mental energy was draining fast. I don’t know how many times I said “I can do this” inside my head, but it was a hell of a lot and it seemed to work. The weather was nice to us, the sun wasn’t splitting the trees but it wasn’t cold either. I’m glad I put my coat in Scott’s bag or I would have been sweating buckets. 

Towards the very end of race, we could see the finish line and I knew I wanted to get there as soon as I could. I had started to speed up but I asked Scott was I going too fast too soon and he said yes, so I scaled it back a little until I knew I could really speed up. For this race, I wasn’t aiming for a time, time did not matter at this point because my main aim was to finish. I finished up with a time of 01:07:35 which was naturally, I was over the moon with. 

IMG-20180408-WA0005-01.jpeg(Post-race smiles with our medals.)

Looking back, I wish I had have been able to do a little more training leading up to the race but with a sore toe and the snow disrupting the first few months of the year, it was out of my control. I guess that’s what happens with races during the start of the year, right? Apart from that hiccup, I’m really happy with how it all went and I think I’ll be sticking with 10K distances for a little while before attempting a half marathon distance. I want to try and improve my timing before I try that. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post today and as I mentioned at the beginning, if you missed any of my running posts, I’ll have the most recent ones linked below. 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again? 
Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run. 
Training for a 10K Race: One Last Check In. 

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Training for a 10K Race: One Last Check In.

If you’ve been following this particular running journey for the last few posts, you’ll know that I’m running a 10K race on 8th April which means that this will be my last running update before that race. I understand that there hasn’t been that many but even in these few posts, my running ability has grown massively and I couldn’t be prouder. 

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We’ll start off with St. Patrick’s Day; not an occasion I celebrate personally but I knew I had to work for a few hours that day so I wanted to get out and get some exercise done, so I planned out my usual loop route that I had ran quite a number of times last month. It wasn’t a particular warm day but it wasn’t the coldest one that we had been seeing a lot. However, this was the first run in a while where I didn’t stop once (apart from to take a few photographs) and I was so happy about it because it was a battle that I kept losing, but not this time. 

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My next run was a much earlier run because even though I was off all week, I wanted to make the most of the mornings and I knew I was going for brunch with a friend so it made sense to head out early. I done something on this run that I had never tried before, it was unplanned. Now, maybe that doesn’t seem strange to many of you but I liked to know the exact distance and the exact route of each run because sometimes I find it hard not being in control especially in running circumstances. However, I went by the words of this quote “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” and it seemed to work wonders. If you know Belfast, I ran down the Shore Road into Belfast, down at the Lagan Weir, crossing the bridge and up by the BT Tower and back into the city centre before making my way back up the Shore Road. Again, I had no concept of the distance at this stage and it was only when I arrived home, I stopped Strava and realised the time and the distance. While the distance wasn’t ground-breaking for me, I was over the moon that I was able to run and not have a plan in place. Much like the last run, I didn’t feel the need to stop except to get a few photographs, but that was it. 

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I stuck with the previous comfort zone quote and went one further with my next run. This was quite a few days later because on the same day, as well as running the 8.4K, I also clocked up over 30,000 steps. My feet did not love me for a few days so I had to take it easy. Back on Saturday I woke up early again with the intention of another early morning run and had the same mindset of not planning out my route, so that’s what I did. The only difference with this however, if you see by the map, I didn’t run through the city centre streets and when I was coming back home, I ran the opposite way to what I would have done in previous runs through the industrial estate. This one tired me out but I stopped two or three times which I was happy with because I knew that it was going to be a slightly longer distance than last time, I just didn’t know by how much. I was running back home and I knew I was near the street where I had to turn off and I looked at my phone and it said “10.9K”. My first thought was “Oh my god, I’m almost at 11K” and my second thought was “I’m almost at 11K, I can’t stop until I get there” so I didn’t. I ran 11K and as soon as I hit that mark, Strava was stopped. You have no idea how happy I was! It was my longest distance, I didn’t think the time was too bad either and I had a runners high.  

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Now because I’m still a new runner, you would think that after my longest distance, I would take a day off. Scott and I had set a plan up to go and try out the route for our 10K race coming up and I didn’t want to cancel on him, because we hadn’t been able to run together for a few weeks. Unfortunately, my “comfort zone” came to a standstill and a number of issues popped up for me. This could have happened for a number of reasons but my guessing is that because I had ran the day before, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I got into a major panic at about the 6K mark, I had zero fight left in me and I wanted to stop and cry, and I almost did. It was not a nice run at all, I’m hoping that now I know the route and the markers that on the day itself, I’ll be okay but that’s a huge worry for me now. On our first 5K race together, I had several panic attacks and cried while running and I don’t know if I could deal with that again. If it does happen, I’ll have to strongly consider whether running in races is for me but we’re going to cross our fingers that it doesn’t. Once we finished, I was so glad and Scott said for the distance I had ran the day before, he was surprised that I kept my pace up at a good rate. If I took anything away from that trial run, it was that.  

Despite my bumpy last run, I can say that I am proud of myself. Last year I doubted I could run more than 5K without getting tired and now I’m running further at 11K. I’m still breaking down that mental barrier that my head and my feet play with each other but that’s not something that is easy to do with a few runs. It will take many more months but I know it is getting better, one blip doesn’t mean I’m back at square one. 

If you’ve missed my last two posts on my latest race, I’ll leave them linked below. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post today, I really do appreciate it 💕 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again?
Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run.

Training for a 10K Race: Three Loops and One Long Run.

Recently I wrote about signing up to my second official 10K race and in that post, I said I would write about my running progress every two weeks, so that’s what I’m doing today.

Altogether over the last two weeks, I’ve had four successful runs. Ideally, I would like to get about six in but four isn’t bad considering the amount of bad weather and snow we have had. These four runs consisted of three loops around the same area and one long run so I’ll start with the three loops first.

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This particular loop Scott introduced me to and it had daunted me because it’s around an industrial estate that I didn’t know too well but once I had been around it a few times, I knew what turns to take and knew when to cross over. When I ran with him, he stopped us at the 5K mark so I could mark my timing correctly and see how well I was doing. However, when I ran on my own, I decided to start a little further back than the last time and I ran past the last point, so what first became 5K then became 6.5K. I didn’t realise I had added an extra 1.5K to the route entirely.

Saturday Afternoon Loop Route

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This run was my favourite run out of the three, mainly because this was the first day of sunshine we had seen in weeks and it was when I discovered I had added on an extra 1.5K so I was over the moon. In terms of pace, I find it very difficult to determine my speed if Scott isn’t there. I never know if I’m going too fast or too slow because he keeps me in line but this is something I’m trying to work on. I may have went overboard on my running gear on this run, I knew it was sunny yet I continued to wear my warm hat and my fleece coat so I was half way done with the run and I was so sweaty. I got about three quarters of the way finished and that’s when the mental battle started because you would think that when I knew I was nearly done, I would push through to tell myself I’m “almost there”. That’s where my head differs, it does the opposite and makes me feel like quitting at the last hurdle. Understandably, I was running then walking for twenty seconds and then back to running, I had a few of these periods towards the end. This is another issue I want to work on because this could potentially hold me back from breaking personal best times and I don’t want that to happen of course.

Tuesday Evening Loop Route

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Tuesday evening’s run went quite well but there was a significant difference in this one and the one on Saturday afternoon, I hadn’t worked on Saturday so understandably, I was feeling tired from work but I pushed myself out of the door anyway and the majority of the time, I am always glad that I do. I wrapped up warm for this run because it wasn’t a nice sunny day and it was a very cold night, but by the end, I was very sweaty. I earned every little sweat drop though! I was over a minute slower than the previous run which I tried not to be too disappointed with and I did slow down towards the end (just like the previous run) and that currently held my time back too. Apart from those few points, it was a good run.

Sunday Morning Loop Route

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Fresh early Sunday morning air. I want to say that I was running at around half seven on a lovely fresh Sunday morning which was so refreshing. I absolutely love running at that time because your body hasn’t quite woken up so it gives you an extra boost and that certainly helped me time wise with this. While I still had the mental block towards the end of the route, this was my fastest solo time on this route so far and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Last but not least is my big run for the two week period. The full 10K, now it might sound strange that I’m running 10K distances even though this training series is for the purpose of training for a 10K race. Well, fortunately I know that I’m perfectly capable of running that distance but I have a number of objectives. I want to track my progress for this race like I was meant to for my last race, I also want to get better time and pace wise because that is something I can aim for.

Belfast City Centre to Dundonald (via Greenway)

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This 10K started in the centre of Belfast, around by the Lagan River, up towards the Albertbridge Road heading for Connswater and finally heading up to Bloomfield Avenue where I knew there was continuing part of the Comber Greenway. I don’t know where the Connswater Greenway starts in the centre of Belfast so for me, I knew that route from walking it a few times and I then began running on the Comber Greenway route. By the time I was getting on it, it was coming up to about half five and it wasn’t too dark but by the time I got to the end of it, it was considerably darker. I was still able to see and I thankfully didn’t need my head torch but it was cutting it close. If you’ve never been on this particular Greenway, it’s not very well lit and the only light you really have is in front of you when you can see the next set of traffic lights so it’s quite closed off apart from coming up to the next stop.

There were a few obstacles for me on this run. Firstly, I was heading to an appointment back where I used to live so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to run back there. In doing that however, I had a backpack with me filled with my work clothes and everything that I take to work. Mind you, it wasn’t very heavy but it still had some weight in it and it was on my back the whole time. Another obstacle was again, the mental block but it didn’t seem to pop up as often as I thought it would, it still popped up here and there but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I over dressed for this run again, I would say that it was even before the half way point where I felt like I didn’t need my hat or my coat anymore but because my bag was so jam packed, my only option would have been to carry them in my hand and I didn’t want to weigh myself down further so they stayed on.

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The Comber Greenway is really gorgeous in the day time so I would be tempted to run down it more at the weekend during the day to build up my endurance because you don’t see the distance go in as much as you would if you were running up the main Newtownards Road right up until Dundonald, and it’s always nice to run with very pretty views, right?

That’s all for this fortnight’s running progress. As I said, I’m hoping to keep this up every two weeks until the race itself so I hope you’ll keep reading along with me. Thank you so much for reading!

Becoming Comfortable With Calling Myself A Runner.

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Over the last number of years, the term of “labels” or “labelling ourselves” have started a lot of conversations. Many people don’t like to label themselves because they find if they do that, they’re almost stuck in a box and they can’t veer out of it. I have been very open and honest when I have spoken about being vegan; initially I didn’t want to put that label on it and preferred to say I was eating a plant-based diet. By calling myself vegan, I thought I had to be perfect at it one hundred percent of the time and I was almost afraid if someone called me out on something I did wrong (especially if it was accidental). I am not longer afraid to call myself a vegan and I do when it’s brought up in conversation. I can understand completely that some people don’t think it’s appropriate to label themselves and I’m in no way dismissing that, everyone has the right to what they choose to call themselves (or not call themselves), I’m simply speaking about my experience and not only about how I choose to label myself but why it has been difficult for me. 

What am I? I am a woman. I am a daughter. I am a grand-daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a best friend. I am a girlfriend. I am partner. I am a work colleague. I am a vegan. I am in the media industry. I am a blogger. I am a gym go-er. I am a yogi. I am a learner. I am independent. All labels I am proud of. 

So why was it so hard to call myself a runner? Expectations were a huge barrier for me and it goes back to the point of putting too much pressure on myself and being worried I was going to be judged by other people. When I first started out I told myself that I won’t be a real runner until I can run a certain distance without stopping, so when I did that, I automatically told myself that I had to run further to be classed as a runner. When I ran that further distance, I told myself that I had to do it within a certain time, so again, when I did that, I told myself that a real runner would do it faster. I also told myself that I couldn’t be a runner until I ran in a race but then when I did, it still didn’t feel right. Without me explaining over a dozen scenarios that went through my head, you can see the pattern developing and it’s not a healthy one. 

Changing my mindset and perspective on this particular battle was hard, it really was. I like to think I’m determined (when I truly am passionate about something) and I have even been called stubborn. I’m not sure if stubborn is the right word but I believe when I want something, I work for it and I try not to ask for help along the way. In doing so, I’ve learned that sometimes you can’t do it all on your own and that in itself, has been a huge life lesson for me. 

victoria-wilson-1(Photography by Jess Lowe Photography)

Look at Olympic athletes, did I think they weren’t runners because they “only” ran 100m? Of course not. Did I think those who took part in a ParkRun weren’t runners because they weren’t hitting the specific time that I had in my head? Of course not. Did I think that runners were only “real” runners if they ran in official races? Of course not. So why did I think I wasn’t a runner? 

I was listening to an interview with Tim Ferriss; I’m a huge fan of his work when it talks about mindset and routines specifically. I know I’ve heard him say this quite a few times but I’m not sure if this is his quote or someone else’s but he says “Always try to be the weakest person in the room, in some aspect” It’s a valid point because if you’re always the strongest person in the room, I truly don’t believe you will learn anything from others because you are at the highest point and everyone is looking to you. Whereas, if you are the weakest person, you’re looking towards others for advice and education on whatever that particular subject is. So next time I’m taking part in a race or a ParkRun for example, I know I won’t be the strongest person there and I’ll be getting overtaken right, left and centre but I can only look at that as a positive rather than a negative. I’ll be picking up my pace and I’ll be looking at them to see if they’re using any techniques I haven’t used yet in order to improve my running ability. 

No matter how fast or slow I go and no matter how short or long the distance is, I am a runner and I am proud to call myself one. 

 

Training for a 10K Race: Wait, again?

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you’ll know that in the middle of last year, I decided to take up running. This was partly influenced by my boyfriend but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time and I didn’t really know where to begin. Luckily for me, he was more than happy to come running with me, teach me how to run properly and be my support system.

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(Back at my first official 5K race: The Connswater 5K)
Through my running, I’ve taken part in about a dozen parkruns, quite a number of my own personal runs with various distances, mini run club runs, a charity fun run, a 5K official race and a 10K official race. While I documented my running journey of building myself up to a 5K race, I didn’t do that as well as I had hoped for the 10K and that’s one big regret of mine. Not so much for the blog, although I would have liked for it to worked as inspiration even just for one person; it was more so for myself because I would have liked to see written progress of that process too.

Being the romantic that I am, for Valentine’s Day, I signed us both up for the Titanic Quarter 10K race happening at the beginning of April. He told me that he’s done this particular race before and because it’s in a newly developed part of the city with views of the water, it’s a really nice backdrop for a run. He didn’t know I was signing us both up but he seemed really pleased that we would get to run together in another race, and this also means going out on more training runs together whenever we can.

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(I don’t stop to take photographs too often on a run but on occasion, it’s nice to take a breather)
My plan of action for the build up to this race is pretty simple. If you follow me on Instagram, more often than not, I post my runs on there so I plan on still doing that and additionally, I’ll be doing a blog post every two weeks talking about them more in-depth. I don’t want complicate it because running shouldn’t be complicated so why make my blog that way?

I hope you’ll follow me along on my latest running journey because it’s something I’m very passioniate about and I love that I can share it with others too. While you’re here, you can catch up on some older running posts too:

Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run.
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training.
Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

Training for a 10K Race: Starting Out With Longer Distances.

Apologises but this will be a slightly longer post, I’ve been running more than usual lately, so that’s only a good thing. If you missed my post about signing up for a 10K race, it’s linked here.

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After I recovered from my injury and started back on the parkruns (which I talked about in my running update) my long distance running had to begin in order for my 10K training so that’s what I done and before I begin, all the long distance runs I have done so far have been in the same place which I’ll talk about, except I’ve just gone a little further each time.

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(Results from our first long distance runs and as usual my tracker decided to play up and over estimate the distance rather than under. So we ran 4.7 miles rather than 4.9 miles.)

The first long distance run was done one Sunday evening when it was just starting to get dark. The towpath we run on is 4 miles or just over 6.5K altogether when we turn at the tunnel and come back around. Once we finished on the route, we actually ran a little further to hit 7.5K. This particular run wasn’t that difficult, I thought I would have struggled but because we slowed down, I didn’t feel out of breath and I even said I could have kept going. I’ve never ran that distance before so I was over the moon with it, and at that point I didn’t care about timings, I was just so happy that I done it.

IMG_20171012_220544_460.jpg(A first 9K run! Distance was 5.61 miles which equals 9K.)

The next long distance was done after work one evening and as much as I love the Autumn and Winter seasons, I hate that it’s getting so dark so soon. We run down a quiet towpath near our area and it’s really lovely but the one downside is that at night, it’s very badly lit. Thankfully Scott had his head light with him and when it was really dark, he went in front of me so cyclists could see him first. Again, this wasn’t a tough run and I only really started to feel tired after the towpath and we went further than the 7.5K stopping point. We went to the 9K stopping point!

Yes, I ran 9K. You have no idea how happy I was, and quite frankly, I’m still proud of it. According to Scott, I was four minutes faster at the 7.5K mark this time too. So because I was four minutes faster, I’m assuming I picked up the pace and I had been at work all day so I put my added tiredness to the fact I’d been in work all day then I came home to run. My dinner was thoroughly enjoyed that night.

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(I moved to Strava for my running training statistics, mainly because it is known to be more reliable and more accurate that my FitBit but of course, I’m still using the FitBit.)

My third run was a lone run which I didn’t mind too much. I really like when I run with Scott but I don’t like feeling dependent on someone so that’s why I don’t miss out on parkrun’s if he can’t come with me, I want to feel like I’m progressing all the time and this experience was no exception.

I went straight after work meaning I rushed in, got changed and make-up off within ten minutes then headed to my route and it was already starting to get dark. Thankfully I have a torch on my phone so I stuck that on in very dark patches or when I thought I would need to be seen by other runners or cyclists.

I would say this was the toughest run but yet, I wasn’t overwhelmed. I wasn’t gasping for my last breath like sometimes I can be at the parkrun but it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park (or shall we say run in the park? Ha!). If you scroll up, you can see my first 9K run was finished in one hour and eleven minutes; this 9K run was completed in one hour and four minutes. How? For me, these longer runs are not about the time because I need to prove to myself that I can run a longer distance and be able to mentally get through it (which I feel like I’m doing pretty well) but when you see such a significant time difference, you can’t help but be pleased.

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(Because I run later on at night now, the photographs don’t turn out too well. I took this before starting on my route while the sky still had a little light in it.)

So that’s my long distance running progress so far. Am I happy? Absolutely! I’ve been running more than just the parkrun and I genuinely feel better because I can see progressing happening. I’m still worried about the 10K itself but I think that’s completely normal to be nervous. Thank you for reading! 💛

Training for a 10K Race: Yes, 10K!

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I am writing this post a lot sooner than I thought so sometimes when I remember about the 10K run, it takes me a minute to adjust that it is actually going to happen.

It all began after the 5K race was finished; it was a really tough race mentally for me and I had been very hesitant to sign up to another one based off that experience. My boyfriend had been talking about signing me up for my next race and I simply wasn’t interested yet; I was quite happy to stick to the parkrun and prepare to get faster for those. He brought up a 10K run that had quite a unique twist but it was in November and I had told myself that I didn’t see myself realistically training for a 5K until March or April next year. I’m not sure how it happened; I can’t remember if Scott talked me round or if I convinced myself it was a good idea, but he signed us up to the 10K run.

Yes, in August I pulled myself through a 5K race (and now that I’m back from injury, I continue to do 5K runs every Saturday morning) and now in November, I’ll be taking part in a 10K run. It still doesn’t seem real to me and quite frankly, I am very nervous. When I run 5K, I think to myself “If I’m tired after a 5K, how am I going to tackle a 10K?”

20170717_205853.jpg(My local park has the prettiest flowers!)

One of my biggest fears, which is completely understandable, is the fear of the negative thoughts taking over which is where the anger, the upset and the panic attacks will come in. If you haven’t read about my very negative run, it will be linked at the end of the post, but I urge you to read it if you haven’t already. It’s a very raw and emotional post that was not only hard to go through, but hard to write. At the end of the day, I’m writing about my running training and that was part of the experience, so I would feel like a fraud not to write about it. I’m worried about that experience happening again and there’s not a day I don’t think about it.

The 10K is happening in the middle of November so we’re just a month away so what’s my plan? Well, I’m still planning on running in the parkrun each week and continue to work on my timings. During the week, I hope to run at least twice but up the distance; I’ll not be running 10K from the get-go, it might only be an extra half a mile for a while, then we’ll add on a full mile after a week or two. Scott will be helping me throughout thankfully and because I’ve had the constant challenge of upping my speed on the Saturday morning, I’m going to have to slow it down for the 10K. I believe that that will be something that I’ll struggle with at first because I still have no real idea about my pacing and if I’m going too fast or too slow, so he’ll be there to help me along the way with that.

For all my other running posts, have a look below and take your pick!
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run
Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training!
Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

Training for a 5K Race: What happened after?