Friday, 26 August 2011

My First 10k & How I Got There

Hello, all sitting comfortably? Then let's begin...

You may recall that back in Spring last year, when I was simply looking to complete 12 sports for 1 month each in a bid to lose my belly (tschh), I took up The Running Challenge to cover 26.2 miles (the Marathon distance) in less than 21 days...well at the time I didn't run at all and trust me, I'm still not that great at it!

Sums The Running Challenge up beautifully

Now that I'm on a mission to complete EVERY Olympic sport before London 2012, I'm having to take things a little more seriously, so I've looked into the core abilities and skills that I need and sadly I've found no way of getting away from the fact that Running is key to loads of events.

The magic distance would seem to be 10k (or 6.2 miles in old money), as this is the length of the running leg in the Olympic Triathlon and if I could manage these regularly I'd also have the stamina for The Football, Hockey, Handball and Basketball Challenges.

Having been focused on The BMX, Shooting & Fencing Challenges, I was a little rusty when I again took up Running back at the end of May...on the 26th I managed a slow 3 miles to get me re-started.

Training was erratic due to a heavy workload and other sports taking up my time, but by June 17th I was running much quicker and decided that day to call this my last 3, from now on I would step up my pursuit of a 10k.

Monday 20th of June I was at my brother's in Hampshire and he challenged me to a game of 'Cat & Mouse': we'd both start and finish at the same point and be heading off on the same route, only I would run to a point 2.1 miles away while Mike would go on to the 3.2 mark, and then he'd 'chase me' back.

When you run around country lanes you often get an echo of your own steps which can make you think that another runner is close up behind you...I pegged it back thinking I was almost being caught the whole way!

I made it back to the start with plenty of lead on my brother, I really recommend you try this method against a better opponent than yourself if want to increase your pace - Mike runs at just over the 7 minute per mile rate for marathons, so I really had to up my game to beat him.

8 days later I ran under 9 minutes per mile in a home town 4 miler, completing the route below in 35 minutes 19 seconds.

I went back to my preferred route-planning site of choice - - and planned a 4.5 mile, slightly hilly route, you can check out all of my routes on this site here.

On the 17th July I bagged myself these four and a half miles, though the hilly finish did take a lot out of me and so I took a little while before my next attempt at this route.

Seven days later it was sunny and hotter than I'd expected when I headed out to confirm the distance, but I had to pull up after just 2.5 miles with limbs aching badly enough to force me to quit. Speaking with a colleague who has far more experience at this running lark, I was surprised to hear him diagnose dehydration as the root cause of my problem.

I took a week's break as a dead leg healed and went out on a tentative 4 mile run with my missus uncle whilst we visited the Lake District the following weekend. Feeling confident I was OK, I retraced this route two days later - all went smoothly, though as I was warming down I felt a tug in my back and this didn't bode well...

Another week out due to this stiff back issue, I came back to a 4.5 mile run on August 8th and felt so bullied by the return that I planned out my first 5 mile route since The Running Challenge last year...and 3 days later I bagged it in 49mins!

This 5 gave me a sweet victory; my brother had challenged me to run the distance in less than 55 minutes and I'd nailed it with plenty of time left on the clock.

I confirmed I could do 5 miles and it wasn't a one-off, a few days later in a slightly windy jog along the coast which again took 49 minutes. Sadly though the pleasure of this was short lived, due to some bad luck and a bad decision on my part: the next evening I'd arranged to hook up with an old mate to do some strength work but he'd instead opted to take me out on a run - after 2 quick miles I pulled up with the same problem I've faced in the past; just above my ankles on both legs I was suffering from pins and needles and I had to pack ice on myself to calm the pain down.

I'm a stubborn chap at times and need to learn when to listen to my body, which I did for a change this time and held off of going out for a few extra days on top of my standard 2 day rest...but when I did lace up my trainers again it was to go for glory!

A family gathering at my brother's gave me the opportunity to have a running partner again, and seeing as my whippet-like sibling was currently in training for a marathon and a 10k race, I felt that now was the time to step to the plate; today I would attempt my first 10k.

This undulating route would include running on country roads, a stony and uneven canal path and a muddy field - so not the ideal route to worry about my time then.

My bro would run off occasionally, then double back and jog beside me for a while, which helped me to maintain momentum but virtually all the while I was suffering ankle pain; it seemed every time I switched gradients my ankles would scream their annoyance.

When I made it to the final downhill slope I was ready to beg for an ice bucket, but I still had the ever-familiar sprint to the finish line. My tiny counterpart clicked the stopwatch and breathlessly declared 'Well done, one hour five minutes and thirty six seconds.

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