Running can be slightly addictive. Most of us start off disliking it. Boring, sweaty, hurts my lungs. No thanks. But after we dabble in the first few runs, we likely find ourselves eager to hit new distances, faster times, and higher frequencies. It’s an exercise that’s easy to progress in. Who doesn’t like to feel that sense of achievement?
There are certain milestones when it comes to running that people aim for. Often in the form of distance. The first being 5km. Approximately half an hour of straight running is daunting if we have not done it before. But by taking it at our own pace and trying a few times each week, we’ll get there.
The next milestone is 10km. A pretty popular distance. It’s short enough to be achievable if we’re not usually a keen runner. Long enough to be a challenge that takes some real training and effort.
So, how exactly do we get ready to tackle the 10km?
Lacing up your trainers for the first time
The first 5km is the hardest. There’s so much to think about. You’re not familiar with the feeling. You’re not sure what your pace should be. You’ve not got into a rhythm yet.
If you’re yet to hit this milestone, (or kilometre stone?) start focusing there first. Once you’ve reached this goal post, it’s a lot easier to start thinking about stepping it up. Try our first 5km training plan for tips on how to get going.
Making the jump from 5km to 10km
With 5km under your belt, you might have felt the high. You know what a good run feels like. You’re familiar with how your breathing should be, your legs should feel, and what your average pace is. You’re not a novice. Your search history is filled with running trainer review forums. You’re ready to take it to the next level.
Stepping it up from 5km to 10km might be double the distance, but it’s not double the effort. You hear it everywhere. People tend to agree that the first 5 is the hardest. The next 5 after that is just a steady climb where you know what to expect.
You don’t need to invest in expensive gear. You don’t need to fuel much more before or during. You don’t need to get into ice baths and go for massages. But there are a couple of things you do need to be mindful of when making the jump:
Build strength in your legs
Most runners will experience runner’s knee at some point. This tends to happen when the frequency and intensity of your running surpasses the capability of the muscles in your legs to support the impact. A sharp pain in the side of your knee or under the kneecap when you walk or run? Yep, that’s it.
When you pound the pavement over and over again, the impact of your weight landing can affect the joints in your knees and in your ankles. If your muscles are not strong enough to support this, it can lead to irritation and inflammation in your joints.
The most important thing you can do when progressing with running, is to compliment your training schedule with strength sessions. At least twice a week, work on the muscles in your lower body through compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, and leg raises. It’s something you shouldn’t be skipping.
If you are affected by runner’s knee. Take some time off. It’s frustrating, but resting is the only way to let your knees recover and get back to running as quickly as possible without risking further injury. Keep up the cardio, but engage in low impact activities such as swimming, cycling, or rowing. There are also plenty of low impact HIIT sessions you can do that won’t aggravate your knees.
Rest when you need to
Your body is naturally very intuitive. However, our brain is pretty good at overriding it with thoughts of what we think we should be doing. Or what we want to be doing. Try your best to listen to your body when it comes to scheduling rest days.
Some people need more rest than others. Some weeks you’ll need more rest than others. Some days you just won’t have it in you. There’s no golden rule for how much rest you need.
If your legs feel fresh and you think your body will benefit from the run, then do it. But if you’re feeling weak and you’ve got some niggles that you’re not sure about, then it’s better to rest.
You won’t lose all your progress by taking it easy for a few days. Slow and steady wins the race every time. Don’t learn this lesson when it’s too late.
Prioritise post run recovery
It’s all too easy to hop straight into the shower and forget about recovering from your run. But if you’re looking to make long term progress, this is a habit you should get into now.
Take ten minutes to cool down properly. Tag on a few minutes’ walk to the end of your session to let your heart rate go down and your muscles ease slowly. Do some key stretches to help release any tightness and to check in with any problem areas you’ve noticed. Shower. Moisturise any areas that might have rubbed and look after those feet. You’ll be needing them. If you want an honest truth: clip your toenails or risk losing them altogether. Take on and replace the water you will have lost. Eat a balanced meal that includes protein, carbs and fats.
Keep the variety there
When you’re on a running journey, it’s easy to become obsessed over distance and forget about everything else. Your sole marker of success becomes how many kilometres your phone or smartwatch says you did. And whilst that’s a big part of running achievements, it’s also important to keep variety in your workouts to build and maintain muscle strength, develop stamina, and work on well rounded fitness. As well as incorporating lower body strength sessions, make sure you’re attending to your upper body and core too. This too will help you maintain proper running form and avoid any injuries. Do some shorter running sessions at a faster pace. Sprints and HIIT sessions are a great way to ramp up the intensity and spend time at your maximum heart rate.
Take your time
Building up to the distance slowly and strategically is the best way to make sure you avoid injury, learn more about your body, and develop long lasting fitness. Although it might be tempting to attack it in one go, getting there by building up to it will mean you can continue progressing from a solid foundation.
Now you have the info. It’s just the kilometres you need to tackle that 10km. On your marks, get set, Hussle.