Five Tips for Running Your First 10k

The Burnie 10. By international standards it’s not even a blip on the running radar. Each October the race on the North-West Coast of Tasmania attempts to attract 5000 participants. That’s one-tenth of the number of people expected to line up for The Vancouver Sun Run this weekend. Completing the Burnie 10 was something of an exercise bucket-list item for me. These days I will take on 11km in the morning before I go to work and not think anything of it, but a few years ago a 10km race might as well have been 100km.

It was the same way I felt about a half marathon before I ran the Vancouver First-Half Half Marathon in 2012 and how I still feel about marathons now: intimidated and pretty much convinced I couldn’t do it.

I may be comfortable running (slightly) longer distances now, but I still remember tackling that first race. With that in mind, here is some advice for those of you attempting your first 10km race.

Excuses won’t make you feel better about not running

I registered for the Burnie 10 three times before I actually ran it. Each time I found (or created) a reason not to take part. I told myself I hadn’t trained properly and that I’d try again next year. Or that I wasn’t feeling the best and probably shouldn’t run.  And each time I was disappointed in myself because I knew I’d taken the easy way out. I know now I would have felt better doing the race at a super slow jog or even a walk than not doing it at all.

Keep the run in perspective

My first 10km was daunting. I thought it would take me about an hour, but that felt like an eternity. One whole hour of running? I blew it way out of proportion – even though I’d regularly take high-intensity exercise classes at the gym that lasted at least that length of time. My body could definitely cope with being active for an hour and that’s what I should have focused on.

Run YOUR race

So the gun goes off and everybody starts speeding away. You join in and suddenly you’re trying to catch your breath at the 1km mark. This is a mistake I keep making. It’s easy to get caught up with the crowd and chasing down the person in front of you. It’s also easy to feel disheartened when a lot of people pass you. It’s great to have motivation while you’re running, but it’s important to run at a pace you can sustain.

Not reaching your goal doesn’t mean you’ve failed

After training a lot, I went into my first 10km with a finish time in mind. Half way in it became clear I wasn’t going to make it. When I realized that, I felt myself slow down. It wasn’t intentional but I guess part of me had decided that if I couldn’t finish it in the time I wanted, why try? I sulked a bit before deciding that missing my time by two or three minutes was better than blowing it by five or 10 or more. By the time I got to the finish line I wasn’t even thinking about it. I didn’t even look at the clock. I was just happy to finish.

Yeah it hurts, but finishing is worth it

The best part of my first 10km was finishing. Not because the race was over, but because it was the moment I realized I could run a 10km. Suddenly the distance wasn’t scary, intimidating or something I thought I might be able to do “one day”.  I’ve still got my medal.

Megan Hogarth is an Australian blogger and writer who takes her running shoes on holiday, but rarely remembers to use them.

blogCraig Slagel