Despite my best attempts, I totally failed to complete my 10K training program. About two weeks before my first 10K, I almost quit, but decided to stick it out. Even though I was not at all prepared to run the 10K, I decided to head to San Francisco to give it a shot.
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I arrived in San Francisco to participate in the Run10Feed10 race. I agreed to run the race as part of the Women’s Health WH Action Heros program. Prior to the race, I did attempt to train. However, with several work trips, I just didn’t get to train as much as I’d hoped.
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During the 12 weeks leading up to the race, I did manage to run 2 miles straight, and walk-run and additional mile. I was prepared for a 5K distance, but I never managed to go any further than that. Although I was sure I wouldn’t do very well, I decided to try anyway. Here are the 6 tips that helped me run a 10K even though I failed my training program.
6 Tips to Run a 10K even if You Didn’t Train
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1. Lower Your Expectations
I’m not saying you shouldn’t shoot for success. However, I had an unrealistic expectation that I’d be able to finish the race in under an hour, even without proper training. I got to the point where I was going to quit because I didn’t want to run the race unless I was going to be good at it. After talking with my husband and a friend, I realized I had placed this unnecessary expectation on myself that was not realistic. I have never run a race before, so why did I think I should be good at it right away? Why did I need to finish it in a certain time?
My friend told me I would PR no matter what, and that really resonated with me. No matter how slow I ran, I would still do the best I had ever done because this was my first time. Lowering my expectations really helped me to stick with it. Instead of finishing in a certain time, my goal turned into completing the race. I set a goal to try and run as much of it as I could, but also gave myself permission to walk if I needed to. I ended up running nearly the entire race, but it was super helpful to take some of that pressure off of myself.
2. Stop to Enjoy the Experience
Although it was a timed race, I still stopped several times to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and the surrounding area. Sure, it probably slowed my overall pace a bit. However, I thought it was really important for me to try to enjoy the experience and not just make it about finishing the race. I stopped and took some shots and even a couple selfies along the way because the view was spectacular. Enjoying my surroundings made the entire experience so much more positive. If I had not stopped to enjoy the nature and sights around me, I don’t think I would have enjoyed the experience nearly as much.
3. Download an Energetic Playlist
The night before the race, I downloaded a bunch of my favorite hip hop songs. I find hip hop is the most energetic for me to listen to and really pumps me up. Having good music really helps to energize me and helps me push through the pain. At the moments in the race when I was feeling really tired, I picked some of my favorite running songs, and those gave me the little boost of energy I needed to keep going.
4. Recruit a Friend to Run With You
I was so thankful my husband volunteered to run a 10K race with me. Although we didn’t actually run it together the entire time, it was nice to have his support and also to give a high five along the way when we passed each other. If you’re having trouble training for your race and there’s still time for a family member or friend to sign up, I’d encourage you to try and recruit them. It is so nice to have someone else to share the experience and to be there as a support system.
5. Tap Into Your Competitive Nature
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I am a very competitive person. Part of the reason I wanted to quit was because I didn’t want to be slower than other people. I had this idea in my head that somehow I’d be one of the slowest people out there. To my relief, I ended up being right smack dab in the middle of the pack. There were a lot of people faster than me, but most importantly, a lot of people slower than me (important to my ego, that is;)). During the race, I used my competitive nature to keep me going. I didn’t want to slow down and I didn’t want people to pass me, so I used that competitiveness to dig deep and get more energy. It’s amazing how much our minds influence our ability to keep our body going. I definitely realized that I have a lot more mental and physical ability than I ever thought I did.
6. Visualize Success and the Finish Line
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While I was running, there were a couple times where I wanted to give up and just walk to the end of the race. However, I kept trying to visualize my success and the finish line. Even if I didn’t run as fast as I’d wanted, I was still running my first 10K and my first race. I tried to remind myself how neat it was that I committed to running this race and that I wanted to finish no matter what. Just being out there running the race made me a success, no matter how long it took me to finish.
In the end, I completely surprised myself. I ran the race in under an hour and fifteen minutes, averaging less than 12-minute miles. For someone who had never run more than 2.5 miles, this was a major accomplishment. More important than the actual time is the fact that I stuck with it, didn’t quit, and finished the race! If you’re interested, you can see my finish line video and results here.
Overall, my attempt to run a 10K was totally worth the time investment and I would do it again. I’m in no rush to run another race, but I do think I’ll keep working at it. It’s always good to have a new goal to achieve.