You have been shut up all winter and you probably can’t even remember what the outdoors look like. Here’s a crazy thought – how about you get out there in the month of May to celebrate the arrival of spring and warmth with a 10k race? Yes, it sounds crazy; especially considering that you’ve never done anything more in the running department other than, say, an occasional jog around the park. The thing is, it can be really motivating to have something to shoot for. It certainly can be done; even if your entire training unit consists of one skinny friend. If you could rope a friend in and get started on their training, you could probably cheer each other on and actually do it. And here’s another thing that will probably cheer you up – training hard the way you will need to complete a 10k race actually gives you a drug-like boost. It’s real, it’s proven. And in the end, you’ll probably have a far better figure to boast of (if you are a woman, that is).
If you have had practically no experience with anything like a 10k race, you need to make sure that you don’t push yourself too hard. Doing that when you are out of practice can end up causing all kinds of injuries. If you feel like signing up for a race to give you something to aim for, you probably don’t want to sign up for anything that is any closer than two months away. Your body certainly needs that amount of time to get used to those kinds of demands. And then, since you are not trying to be a dedicated amateur or anything, you probably need to allow for a few off days – in case work pressures come in the way or something. Ten kilometers work out to 6.2 miles. It can be quite a demanding thing to prepare for to run that far. If training for this much in a mere eight weeks seems like too much, you could conceivably opt for the 3.5 mile distance first. As you train, make sure that you don’t do any more than 3 miles at your target pace. Once you reach that mark, you can half-walk and half-run the rest of the way. Once you reach 10 miles, you want to keep running that way until the day of the race. You need to give your body’s reserves a bit of time to build up. In the last week before the race, be sure that you cut down your practice distance by about 20%.
Some people tend to feel that going out on a group practice run with your friends can distract you from the goal at hand. While there might be something to that, this kind of thinking should only apply to professional athletes or serious amateurs. For anyone who’s trying to get into shape for the first time, the kind of inspiration and motivation that fellow runners can bring can be invaluable. Having friends to answer to can also make it impossible for you to not show up one day just because you don’t feel like it. Of course, you need to pace yourself to the speeds that you are comfortable with.
On the day of the race, remember that it’s your first race. You don’t have to push yourself to finish in record time. You only need to push yourself to finish. If halfway through the race, you feel panic setting in, all you need to do is slow your pace down. Sometimes, it can even be acceptable to walk to the finish. Just as long as you make a decent attempt.