In the summer I finally ran over 10km, and this is a person who previously could barely run 1000 metres on a treadmill. If I can do it, literally anybody can. Here’s some tips on how to run your first 10k, even if you’ve got the running capabilities of a toddler.
1. Start steady
There’s no point in expecting to go from couch to 10k in two weeks, so don’t even try it. Running is the easiest way to injure yourself, so you really need to ease yourself into it. If you really have no base fitness, start on a treadmill. You’re less likely to injure yourself on this as you have nothing to trip over and no climbs/descents.
Start aiming to run 1k. This may seem like nothing, but it’s a solid start. Once you can run 1k, have a short break just to catch your breath, and then see if you can run another 1k without stopping. The day I ran my first 3 separate kilometres, it felt like I had won the London marathon.
This isn’t a race, and you really need to get your legs used to the impact of running. Shin splints and twisted ankles are NOT fun.
2. Download Strava
The main reason most people give up on running is lack of motivation. Luckily, Strava will make sure you’re always motivated and pushing yourself. Simply download the free app and take it out with you when you run. It uses GPS to track how far you’ve gone, and will give you average speeds and show you were you went.
Even if you’re using a treadmill, you can manually put in your information. It’s a really great way to keep track of how your fitness is improving, and gives you an extra reason to run that final 100 metres home.
3. Set small targets
Instead of focusing solely on how to run your first 10k, instead set yourself smaller, minor goals. For example, your first 3km outside. Then, you can gradually amp it up. Running 10km seems terrifying at first, but much less so if you build up gradually kilometre by kilometre.
I was at a point where I could barely run past 3km, but it was a purely mental thing. Once you set yourself a slightly higher goal, it’s easy to make a new one. 3km turned to 4, and on and on. When you realise that you’re achieving your goals, you’re much more motivated to set yourself new targets.
4. Look at your form
The biggest step for my running was simply changing the way I used my arms. I used to run with my arms up high, near my chest, and I would always feel out of breath and suffering from a stitch. Instead, your arms need to be loose and low down, allowing your chest to take in as much oxygen as possible and keep your muscles relaxed.
Imagine you’re holding a pair of hiking sticks, that’s where you want your arms to be positioned.
Always make sure that you don’t run looking down at your feet. Keep your head up, and looking forwards. It makes it much easier to keep going, and feels a lot less ‘stodgy’.
5. Run different routes
One of my biggest struggles was getting into a rut. I would run the same route every single time, and mentally find it impossible to add any further distance on to it. When you know that a road takes you home, it’s pretty hard to run past it and add-on extra.
Instead, explore your area. Even if you don’t know where you’re going, aim to run 2.5km in one direction, and then turn around and head back. That way, you know you’re going home, and you feel like you have the ability to pick your distance.
How to run your first 10k? There’s no secret
Unfortunately, running your first 10k really just takes time and effort. Building up slowly however is key, and making sure that you set yourself little targets along the way. Believe it or not, it is possible, and anyone can do it.