“I hate running, but here’s how I managed to run my first 10k race”

Having vowed to never run again, one writer finally managed to complete her first 10k race. Here’s how she overcame her self-doubt to make it to the finish line.  

As someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy running, I’d never dreamed of entering any kind of race. Why would I? I’m an absolutely rubbish runner. But then, the chance to take part in a huge running event came up.

The Asics Austrian Women’s Run is a 10k event involving over 20,000 women from around the world, and I knew that if I turned down the opportunity to enter, I’d always wonder what I might have missed out on.

After reluctantly agreeing to participate, I scrambled to improve my endurance, mindset and technical running ability ahead of the race. Having that end goal in place forced me to keep training beyond the point that I otherwise would have surrendered. Even after training for 10 weeks with an Asics FrontRunner, the race itself wasn’t easy. I learned some hard beginner lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my running career (however long or short-lived that may be). 

As a formerly committed non-runner, here’s how I made it to the finish line.

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Arriving with minutes to spare gave me no time to talk myself out of racing

I tried to do everything right before the race. I woke up early, ate a healthy, carb-packed breakfast, laced up my Gel Nimbus trainers and buried my nerves deep as I walked towards the start line. Somehow, in all of the pre-race commotion, I struggled to find where I needed to be – eventually arriving at my starting position with seconds to spare. This may have been a blessing in disguise because it gave me zero time to talk myself out of participating. 

Starting off slowly meant being able to enjoy the first 5k

I took a deep breath and set off at a decent pace (around the 6 minute per kilometre mark), armed with my favourite running playlist to ease me into a meditative state. With all of the racing excitement, the first 30 minutes seemed to fly by smoothly. It felt incredible, given that just 10 weeks before, I could barely run for five minutes without being in agony. 

At mile three, bottles of water and electrolyte drinks were handed to runners as they passed. That refreshment stop signalled the half-way mark – which proved to be a massive mental boost, and one intensified by the cheering crowd and number of women surrounding me. Little did I know, however, that energy was about to run out. 

I spent 10 weeks training for this 10K race in London, learning drills and practising mental resilience.

I had to force myself to push through ‘the wall’

Around the 6k mark, I felt shooting pains in my body. I remembered the advice I had received on how to stretch and massage the pain away during my training, so I took some deep nasal inhales to allow more oxygen in to help soothe the tension. It was at this point that my running playlist provided a moment of inspiration in the form of Fred Again’s We’ve Lost Dancing: “If I can make it through this… what comes next will be marvellous.”

I really hoped so.

Not long after, I glanced down at my feet and realised that blood bubbles were frothing from my right shoe. I knew that if I focused my attention on the developing bloodbath, I’d give myself a reason to quit. So, I decided not to look down again until it was all over.

By 8k, that familiar feeling of runner’s dread took over. I could barely hear the music over the blood racing through my body. My pace slowed significantly as I grabbed my hips in despair. All I wanted to do was give up, but I also knew that if I did, I’d seriously regret it. My trainer’s words of wisdom saved me from defeat: “If you begin to falter, try to think of anything else to keep you going.” 

With that in mind, I started counting to 100, promising myself that by the time I finished, I could simply give up. And weirdly, that promise saw me pick up the pace.

Mastering the skill of distraction to make to the finish line

Peering ahead, the finish line loomed ever nearer. I resumed counting to 100 again, ignoring the bloody foot and hip pain, and before I made it to 100, I’d passed the finish line. One hour, one minute and 20 seconds of joy, pain, despair and distraction.

I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders on realising that I’d reached my goal. Hobbling to the side after receiving my participation medal, I removed my right shoe to find that the source of the injury was a tiny cut on a middle toe caused by friction. I’ll never run that far again without getting a pedicure.

To get out of the pain cave, I concentrated on counting to 100.

Get your ticket for the Strong Women x Asics London 10K

You’d have thought that after running a 10k, finally, I’d be hanging up my trainers in favour of a more pleasurable sport. But since the race, I’ve started to enjoy running more than ever. 

Training for a 10k might not have made me the next Paula Radcliffe, but I’ve learned that I’m capable of more than I give myself credit for and that beautiful things can happen when you are brave enough to push past being terrible at something new.

Fancy trying a 10k yourself? Join the Strong Women team at the Asics London 10K on 10 July, in support of the UN Women Safe Spaces Now initiative. 

Image: author’s own.

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