I remember during one of our C25K runs, about halfway through the programme, two women were running behind me chatting about distance. One said to the other ‘if you can run 5k, you can run 7…and if you can run 7k you can run 10…’. At the time, I thought ‘really?’. Now I have two 10k’s under my belt, I can say that, actually, physically, they were right.
Two 10k’s done, with my 2nd one knocking over 3 mins off my time for the first, and those women were right. 5..7..10…the legs and lungs can carry you along. What I was not prepared for was the difference mentally when going from 5k to 10k. That’s running for an hour. How do you keep mentally focused for the hour?
I have found that up to 7k I am fine, likewise the last kilometre, when I seem to get my mojo back for a strong finish. But between 7k and 9k, something switches…I feel the aches, the legs get heavy, the monkey appears on my back telling me it’s okay to stop. Where does that come from? I don’t know the answer, but here’s a couple of things that have helped me…
1) pop the headphones on…okay, I know, official, affiliated road races do not allow it, and to be honest I sometimes find it distracting as I end up running to the songs, knowing what’s coming next…so my way is to start the app, which starts the playlist, but save it till I need it. On the recent Staines 10k, it was about 7.5k in, when I popped those headphones in to get a blast of Prince Lets Go Crazy, followed by You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray. Two songs did the trick, then headphones out.
2) Avoid the water stops. Either take a bottle so it’s slow, steady and constant or skip it all together. Obviously, depends on the temperature, I am not a doctor, take medical advice before embarking on exercise etc etc… but I find personally that slowing down, trying to drink whilst running, chucking the rest over my head just leads to putting me off my pace and giving me a stitch. Note to self: get into the habit of taking on water when running. Or just take gin (nod to my friends in Runnymede Runners…you know who you are!)
3) “Countin’ whilst I’m bouncin'”…I find counting my steps, and repeating ‘bounce’ helps keep my mind focused, my back straight, and my breathing controlled. So find a mantra, something which keeps your mind clear.
I have another 10k planned for July, and am tempted by a 10 miler in October. The aim at each one is to just improve on the last. The tips above are helping me, so maybe they will help you. If that fails, just remember: if you can run 5k, you can run 7…and if you can run 7….#justsaying…