The 1st 10k. Definitely not the last
December 1, 2015 § 6 Comments
I’ve never been much of a runner. In fact until 4 years ago I did not run at all. After a successful Silvesterlauf (5k) in Innsbruck 3 years ago I pretty much let go of running. I was on and off, but more off than on. Running was painful, it bothered and frustrated me. Yet somewhere inside, something in me ticked with every run I completed. A few months ago, despite persistent pains in my calves (which I later learned was called periostitis) I decided to challenge myself and run a 10k.
This was my first attempt at running a 10k course. In fact despite my training I had never run 10k in one go. Periostitis has given me a really hard time these past few months sidelining me for days at a time. But I had promised myself to try it out, without any expectations other than finishing the race. I ran alone, which in hindsight is not so great because there will come a time when you will need encouragement. My training plan did not include many runs, but I cross-trained quite a bit by playing squash and mixing cardio with weights. That helped a lot. Another thing that helped was running in sub-optimal conditions – cold, dark nights, rainy afternoons, and some early mornings. I ran even when I really didn’t feel like it. I managed to delay gratification 7 times out of 10 and I am so grateful to myself I did! I watched motivational videos of famous runners and most importantly, I visualized myself finishing that run strong.
The first 10k
I chose Foulees autumnales de Meyrin because it was a local race and I knew the familiarity of the places would help ease the anxiety. Running through my neighborhood was really great and the proximity to home was wonderful. I was not extremely hungry the morning of the run (guess it was the nerves) but I got really caffeinated. 🙂 Luckily the weather was absolutely gorgeous – sunny and warm. I got my race bib really quickly and then proceeded to warm up. At this point I started to feel a bit lonely but I spent my time watching the other runners doing their drills – after all, I was there to learn. Soon we were crowding in front of the starting line. My cohort only started running 4 minutes or so after the initial shot gun.
My strategy was to start slow and ease into the discomfort by finding the right rhythm. I was not wearing a watch and the music I listened to was the cadence of the other runners – what a sweet melody! The first moment when I became a bit discouraged was when I saw the 2k mark-up, I would’ve estimated at least 4k – this only goes to prove I had not trained enough to get a good sense of distances. I kept going and ran up the hills without stopping. My training had included running hills without stopping, and that helped a lot.
Throughout the 10k I stopped a few times, but it was more out of sheer desperation or what felt like boredom than out of pain. I didn’t know how far I’d have to go and didn’t have anyone to crack a joke with. There were not a lot of volunteers along the course and when I did meet them, they were mostly silent (which kinda irritates me, because why volunteer for such a thing if it doesn’t make you excited?). I really, really missed having someone to talk to! But running through familiar scenery made it better and indeed eased my discomfort. Soon I was passing the 8k mark-up and could.not.believe.it.
I started to relax, knowing the 1 hour finish time was probably long gone. I walked a bit, and ran a bit. As soon as I saw the finish line I started pushing myself again. Seeing Elvin there was like hitting home. I wanted to cry a bit when I was done, but I didn’t. I sipped a bit of sweet tea, got my ‘gift’ and walked back home with Elvin. Simple, just as I had always wanted this to be.
Training is v i t a l. Proper resting, nutrition and hidration are vital. Warming-up and stretching/foam rolling after a run are vital. Learning how to breathe properly, and finding out what works for you. Acquiring an efficient posture and running technique – this is not very obvious, nor is it natural. At some point I could tell I was not lifting my legs off the ground enough, so I consciously corrected that. Same for running tall, gazing ahead, fingers only slightly touching as if holding a paper between them.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that any kind of run requires dedication, preparation and having your mind in the game. At some point my mind started a chatter that went along these lines: this is the last time I’m doing this! what was I thinking? God this is boring! I’m never going to finish etc etc etc. Learning to quiet the mind and get rid of the saboteurs quickly is essential. This is very much work in progress for me. My mantra in those trying moments was: it’s only when you start thinking you can’t go on anymore that you are really starting to tap into your potential. This really helped and it’s so true!
Why running this 10k was important
It’s still taking time for all this to sync in, but as soon as I passed that finish line I felt a huge wave of energy and pride surging in me. I proved to myself that I am much more capable than I thought. Quieting the mind, tapping into my body’s resources and continuing through the discomfort – this is what I learned. Completing this run gave me permission to dream and imagine of everything else I could achieve.
I’m not 100% sure but I think I’d like to attempt running a half. I know I have a long way to go but I also know this is doable. And I love running – it allows me to spend time with myself, get in resonance with my body and… my God, you do see a lot of stuff while running! 😀 I also really love fitness and training and need goals in my life to train towards. Finally, I love dreaming and thinking about what is possible. Then I like to take that dream and make it a reality while having fun with it. 🙂