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?

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Training for a 5K Race: What happened after?

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It’s been almost two months since my last running update, so that’s what I’m here today to talk about. So what has happened since that 5K race? (You can read it here if you missed it!)

I took part in another parkrun the next week, I didn’t get my code scanned that day because we turned up late and started late so I didn’t want a bad time so that doesn’t count towards my parkrun participation unfortunately. I finished that in just under 36 minutes which I was a little disappointed with but I tried my best regardless.

The next week I took part in something which I never thought I would, it was a mud run. My best friend Leonie asked me did I want to take part and the thought of mud turned me off so I originally said no, but when her sister couldn’t do it, I changed my mind and I’m so glad! It was so much fun!

IMG_20170902_133643_357.jpg(We had to get the obligatory “before” picture)

20170902_122018-01.jpeg(The “after” mud look was worth it. It took two hair washes and three all over body washes to get all the mud off me though!)

I decided to be a little too adventurous on the run however; I thought that I would speed through obstacles under ropes like a little cheetah. That came with consequences where I hurt my groin and it continued to hurt for about four weeks. My running came to a stop at that point; I couldn’t go to the gym in the morning because my walk to work had become unbearable and the injury added an extra ten minutes to my journey just because I was limping so much. After ignoring the advice from my boyfriend for two weeks, he told me that I absolutely had to start using ice gels, heat gels, ice packs and ibuprofen. I’m not a fan of pain killers because I feel like they have never worked for me so I wasn’t too keen on taking them but after two weeks, the pain was getting worse so I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

Thankfully after a few days, I started to feel better and it took about two weeks after I started using the gels and taking the painkillers. I still get slight pains from time to time (on a daily basis) but it’s definitely not as bad as it was.

Last week I went back to the local parkrun and I have never been so thankful to be running again. An injury really makes you appreciate what you can and can’t do and I made a promise to myself not to complain on this first run back. My mental head space tends to take over and tells me that I can’t do it so because I hadn’t ran in a while, I tried my best to push the negative thoughts to the back of my head and just run. It seemed to work and I was really proud of myself for getting back out there.

IMG_20170930_114712_792.jpg(If you’re not red in the face, did you really run?)

IMG_20170930_114712_793.jpg(A very early Christmas present from my boyfriend. It has now become my running shirt!)

With my first parkrun back, I finished with a time of 35:16 and considering I’d been out for about four weeks, I was really proud of that. My groin did start to hurt as soon as I stopped running but that was to be expected.

IMG_20171007_125435_815.jpg(My new Personal Best that I achieved on Saturday 7th October. Just a reminder if you haven’t read any of my other running posts, my FitBit doesn’t seem to recognise the 5K so even though it only says just over three miles, I did run 3.12 miles or 5K.)

So where are we now? Well, this past Saturday I went to the parkrun (which was celebrating it’s 13th Birthday!) and I ended up gaining a new personal best (which is pictured above!). I was completely over the moon! I would say I definitely pushed myself a lot more this run and by the end of the first lap, I was really tired and wasn’t sure whether I could do a second lap but I did!

If you want to run my other runnings posts, they are all linked here:
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: Race Day!

Race Day had arrived; it was the day I had been training for for the last number of weeks. I can’t believe I’ve only been training for just over a month! I’ve went from just under 45 minutes to under 35 minutes in just a month, which I’m so happy with.

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Having done the Park Run the day before (and set a new personal best), I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to match that time but if I got under 35 minutes, I would be happy. I was quite nervous, I’m not really sure why; I think it was because this was my target that I was aiming for and it was finally here.

Scott was running the 5K with me but there was the option of the 10K and the kids fun run too. We stood in the wrong line but we must have looked out of place so thankfully someone pointed out the right starting line about thirty seconds before we were due to start.

The race began slowly but surely; where the start line had started, it was leading to a bridge so it wasn’t very wide and we both knew we were going to lose some time here. The first minute or two was definitely not at the speed I’m used to, it was slower but with the way the course was laid out, there was really nothing we could do.

20170820_095633(I have no photographs from the race itself because it wasn’t the type of run to stop and take photographs but this was just before the race started.)

For the first three quarters of the race, I would say I was doing well. I had developed a sore tummy and my head started to pound but I was getting through it. If you read my post about running with negative mental health, then how I felt in that run was very similar on how I felt this day. My self-critical thoughts came thick and fast and unlike the day before, I wasn’t able to tell myself “I could do it”, it was like I was talking to a brick wall. I started to hate the running, I hated everyone around me, I wanted to quit, I started to panic and eventually I ended up having a panic attack weasing away not being able to breath. I was so embarrassed! I didn’t stop though so I was overwhelmed, running with a negative mindset, finding it hard to breath and struggling to find the energy to run at all. I cried and I must have looked like I really hated running but there was so much more going on in my head than I could have explained.

Scott every time has been really supportive when I have periods like this, running or not, he’s there just willing to listen. He did offer me some more positive re-enforcement than usual even though he knows I’m not a huge fan of it, but we were so close to finishing that I think he felt like I needed to hear it.

IMG-20170820-WA0004(This is me fresh faced just before starting the race!)

One of the big cons of the race was something that I didn’t notice until after but Scott noticed at just the right point. I seen him looking at his phone quite a lot towards the end and I thought he was constantly checking our time, but I didn’t ask about it because quite frankly, I was mentally drained and I didn’t care about my time. I just wanted the race to be over at this point. We get past a certain point and he said “I think this route is longer than 5K” so we do a sprint to the big “finish” sign and I stop my watch immediately. That’s when I noticed a difference. We all know (if you’ve read previous posts) that my FitBit plays up when it comes to the GPS aspect. So for the 5K in the Park Run, it comes up for me as 3.05 miles but my watch this time came up as 3.16miles so it was more than 5K. Because of this, my time was different and it came up as 35:28 meaning I didn’t hit my under 35 minutes aim. However, because Scott had been watching his distance and time, he stopped it at the exact 5K mark and our time according to his more trusting app was 34:25 meaning I came under my target!

20170824_211024(My timing and wrong distance according to my watch alongside my new medal!)

This sounds like there were more cons than pros in this race and I would say it was pretty evenly matched. I was disappointed in the distance especially for those going for personal bests and timings specifically but the atmosphere was really lovely with so many people there to cheer us on at the start and the end. The starting at the bridge slowed us down like I said but the views going through Victoria Park were gorgeous especially since I haven’t been there before.

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(Scott and I with our medals!)

My next and final post in this “Training for a 5K Race” series will conclude with my overall thoughts on my performance, my results over the last few weeks and what’s next as well as a few more thoughts on the race day too.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
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: Last Minute Training!

Saturday morning arrived, the day before the race so as some last minute training, I knew I was going to do the Park Run again. Scott was competing in his own race that morning so I went on my own instead.  I signed up to the correct Park Run this time (As I mentioned before,  I had done a previous Park Run so I convinced myself I was going to go to that one again, even though it’s about an hour and a half walk away) so I was able to get a time on the website this time. When you’re standing around on your own, you do wish you had someone with you but that doesn’t last too long before you head over to the start line.

(It was a sunnier day than last week but I put my hoody in my bag just in case.)

The first lap I really surprised myself at how I felt my pacing was; I was a comfortable tired but not too tired that I didn’t feel like I could go on. The only killer in both laps was the last hill of each, I struggled mentally with those and took a five second walk before starting back again but it wasn’t as hard as the previous week had been.

One change I made in this run was inward thinking. I have spoke to myself (inside my head) many times using positive mantras and encouragement but the times it didn’t work, I don’t think my head was in the right mindset. This run however, was very different for some reason. I lost count how many times I told myself “You can do this” and it worked. I can’t explain the feeling I had when I told myself that but normally “the other side” would say “No you can’t” but I didn’t have that on this occasion. The only thing were it was tough, like I explained in the last paragraph, was the last hill on each lap. I’m really happy I’m starting to break down that negative running barrier.

When it came to the finish, I was at the point where I couldn’t push myself to go faster for the last few metres, so it’s safe to say, I was very tired but I knew it was a good tired. I had only looked at my watch one time during the run and it was coming up close to the start of the second lap so I had an indication of a rough time.

I had not expected another personal best! Of course, instantly I knew I wasn’t going to pull this off in the race the next day but I didn’t care. I was so happy that I had a personal best under 34 minutes! My aim overall was under 35 minutes so this was like the little cherry on top! (If you’re wondering why my distance is wrong, read my last post about my first unofficial Park Run and it’s explained there!)

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
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: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.

So Saturday marked my first unofficial Park Run of 2017, and I say unofficial because I forgot to print out my little scanner code so I won’t get a time on the website but I don’t mind because both Scott and I recorded it individually; I recorded it on my FitBit Blaze and he recorded his on the Nike Running App.

IMG-20170812-WA0001-01(The starting line for the Park Run and of course, full photo credit goes to Scott because he’s taller and he’s better at getting overhead shots of the crowd.)

We arrived just on time, just after the little talk the volunteers give to the runners so we made our way around to the starting line and the laps themselves weren’t too different to how I had been running. The only difference was that we were starting at the western point of the pond and running down the hill to the pond towards the end which meant we had to run up the steep hill twice. The run was very similar to my one apart from those few points though, which I felt at ease with.

At the very beginning I had some of the self-critical thoughts and doubts creep into my head thinking that there was no way I could do it and they seem to creep back at the exact same place for the second (and final) lap. I’m glad I pushed through the thoughts but it’s not the nicest mindset to be in, it might just take a while for that to pass, right?

20170812_102727(It was quite a cloudy day and it wasn’t very warm but that worked in my favour during the run, because it seemed like the perfect temperature.)

One thing that I’ve found is my FitBit seems to be slightly off and I had noticed this a few times but the run on Saturday seemed to confirm this. The run altogether is 5K exactly yet my watch is knocking 0.1miles off my time which is quite frustrating so if you see me posting my watch times and it only says 3.02 miles, it’s really 3.12 which is just over 5K.

So what was my time? Well I’m so happy that I hit another Personal Best because Scott said to me just before the end, “You’ll be so surprised at the end.” and I said that I was preparing myself to be disappointed. When you’re running in a big group of people, because there are so many people in front of you, you feel like you’re running too slow and I always look back to that very first slow run that I spoke about so I always feel like I’m running at that speed.

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My time was 35:42 according to Scott’s app, and it’s almost ten seconds more on my watch because I was so happy to finish that I forgot to hit the pause button, so that’s why there’s a few extra seconds on. According to Scott, from the first run we done together, I was doing a 14 minute mile and on this particular run, my average was 11:26 a mile, so quite the drop in times! As you can see from the watch statistics, it says 3.02 miles when really it was 3.10 miles so I’ll have to see if I can fix that somehow. It syncs with my GPS on my phone so I’m not sure what’s going on with it.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
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 Run: The Lone Run.

So with less than two weeks to go until race day, I need to up my running game and this is my third run since signing up to the race less than a month ago. This was my first lone run because Scott had to work so I thought it would be good experience to see where not only my head would be but how far my own motivation would take me, even though on the day of the race, I know he’ll be there.

20170717_210915(How pretty are the swans?!)

If you remember back to my second race, I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally but I’m very happy to report that my head was in a much better place for this run. I described it as “losing motivation” to Scott but he said it’s more self-doubt that anything. I got round about half way of the course (I say “around”, I only checked my distance twice because I didn’t want to get too obsessed with checking it) and I felt like I couldn’t do the full distance. I added a few more hills into this run than previous two so I felt the extra challenge of those and I think those were fuelling the self doubt.

Running on my own definitely wasn’t as lonely as I thought it might be. I’m quite used to my own company anyway but I thought since I was in a public place, I might feel it more but surprisingly I didn’t. I had my music playing throughout so I didn’t feel like I needed conversation because of that. Something that I’m still struggling with is my breathing; it might sound silly but controlling your breathing while running is quite challenging. Thankfully because I have my headphones on, I don’t hear the very heavy breathing noises but if I didn’t, I don’t think I would be able to hear myself think.

IMG_20170811_064507_229(The evening’s statistics on my FitBit!)

As you can see with my FitBit above, my numbers were thirty seven minutes and forty eight seconds. As with the second run I ran a little further than the 3.1 miles so if you scale my numbers back to exactly the miles to match 5K, I would have completed it in the thirty six minute mark which matches my last run. I was really happy with my results; I didn’t expect the same timings because I didn’t feel like I had went at the same pace.

20170717_210217(The waterfalls in the park are so peaceful especially in the evening.)

Overall, I’m really happy with how the run went. I’m very happy that my time stayed the same and I’m glad that I was able to push past the self doubt because that’s probably something that will always play on my mind (and it’s not something that happens when I’m just running either). It’s less than a week and a half to go now until the race, exciting!

If you want to read about my introduction to this series, you’ll find it here and if you want to hear about my raw, emotional experience when running, you’ll find that post here. Thank you for reading the series so far, I can’t wait to share the rest of the journey with you!

 

Training for a 5K Run: Running and Negative Mental Health?

Have you ever had a negative run or ran when your mental health was very low? There’s a saying that goes “The only workout you regret is the one that you skipped” and when you hear people telling you that exercise is one of the the best anti-depressants, one would assume that the majority of your problems go away if you just “run it off”. 

Mental health is something that I talk about on the blog sometimes but in general, I try to keep my “online presence” very positive, or as positive as I can be. I made the decision over the last year to not be so open about my negative mental health because it’ s very personal to me and because it can be very hard to deal with, I struggle to share that with the people around me, never mind the Internet. 

Today I’m going to open the lid of that box and share my experience of what it was like running when I was at a very low point. 

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Scott had planned out a run for us but I didn’t know where it was or how long it was going to be. It was a Friday night so while I should have been happy that I had finished work for the week, I could relax and enjoy my second run of my 5K training; that reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. 

He was my only motivation getting ready because I knew he was looking forward to it, and I had been all day up until that night but all I wanted to do was lie in bed and cry until I fell asleep. He brought me down to where we were going to run and it’s actually a really nice towpath that we’ve walked before so I was familiar with the scenery. 

I’m a tracker. I like to track my progress in almost everything I do and running is no exception so when my fitness tracker wouldn’t work, that made me feel slightly worse that in the end, I gave up with it. It came round eventually but I really didn’t care at that point, I just wanted to run. 

20170610_094301(This part of the path is further on down but I took a few photographs from our last visit.)

People say running is good for your mental health, it clears your head and helps you gain perspective on what’s going on negatively. Mentally, running made everything worse. I can’t describe when you’re in such a negative place how many little moments, big moments, negative thoughts, self-critical thoughts and imagined scenarios pop up in your mind.  I lost count; it’s a very scary place to be in because you feel out of control and that night I was. I tried to control my breathing but then my breathing started to get so short and quick that it was almost turning into a panic attack. I cried quite a few times on that run, and I really tried to hide it but I don’t think that worked on Scott. 

I knew I was running faster than the first time and because I was embarrassed of my time last time, running faster gave me that motivation to not get that time again. I felt like I was running away from everything; I was running away from my responsibilities’, my past, my scenarios that I made up in my head that had become so real, my thoughts, my emotions and I thought the faster I run, the faster my head won’t be spinning with these thoughts.  It’s like being in a trapped room that you can’t get out of.  

He stayed quiet for most of the run which is what I needed. I know there are the type of people who want the comfort, the cuddles and the supportive words and I admit, I can be one of those people sometimes. More often than not, I just need to be on my own, in silence while I try and let the very negative emotions pass, and if I need to cry, then I cry.  

I started to crack almost half way through thinking I couldn’t do it anymore, I almost just sat on the ground and cried but I felt like I would have disappointed myself if I didn’t finish the run. I continued with Scott until less than a mile away and I was so close to saying “can we just stop now?” when his phone lit up and said “only 0.85 miles to go until your destination”,  and I just knew I couldn’t quit then. 

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We finished the run and Scott asked me did I know what pace I was doing or did I even know what time we had hit. I didn’t know because I wasn’t paying too much attention to my watch or even the time. We had knocked off six minutes from our overall time, so almost two minutes from each mile which was incredible considering how disappointed I was with our Monday night run. It was actually around the 36 minute mark from his phone but I didn’t hit my watch off at the 5K mark, so I did in fact do the run in faster than this. He kept saying how proud he was of me and how well I done, and it was genuinely so lovely, I’m glad I made him proud despite how I felt.

So did I feel better once I finished my run? Physically, yes. When you finish something like a run or a really stressful workout, you do get this wave effect that passes through your body and physically, it feels like it’s breathing a sigh of relief. How did I feel mentally? Nothing; zero, zilch. I still felt sad, I was disappointed in myself for not being able to control the way I reacted to my feelings. I was tired but it wasn’t from the running. 

I understand that this training series is meant to be about my running progress and how excited I am about my first trained 5K but I would feel like an absolute fraud if I either didn’t tell you about the run at all like it didn’t happen or I decided just to leave out how I really felt. My mental health is something I’ve struggled with for over a year now and this was one of the many days where it bared everything, so while it might not be the nicest thing for me to type out and relive, it’s an experience I got through, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing?

If you want to catch up on the first post, that was based around my first run and it was a general introduction into what I’m training for, so you’ll find that right here.  Thank you so much for reading, I know it wasn’t my usual content, but I appreciate you listening to what I had to say.