Before you include the full marathon (which is 42.195 km long, by the way) in your bucket list, let's take the baby steps to a 10km run. The distance may seem daunting, but you'll be amazed with how far your own feet can take you.
With the right preparation—mentally and physically—you can conquer 10km and cross the finish line with a smile. Here are some tips before you lace up your running shoes and take a spot on the starting line.
A 10km run is not a walk in the park, so you need to allocate ample time for run training. And this is not a one-night or one-morning training session. You have to allot time for running and strength training for weeks or even months. Set a goal—it could be finish time of one hour—and commit to training to reach that goal.
2. Sign up.
Pick and sign up for a race that includes a 10km category. Some popular local races include Milo Marathon and Condura Marathon. Paying the registration fee and signing the waiver mean there's no way but to go forward. Select a race day that won't fall during your period. According to Runners' World, menstruation has an effect on athletic performance. So if you want to hit a certain target, make sure you're at your peak.
3. Get analyzed.
Drop by a running specialty store like Second Wind Running Store or Runnr to have your gait analyzed. The results dictate the type of running shoes most suitable for you. A pair of gait-appropriate shoes may help you avoid injuries.
4. Protect your girls.
Running is said to be a cheap sport. All you need is the right pair of running shoes. For women, a proper sports bra is also necessary to prevent chest discomfort and to reduce breast movement as you pound the pavement. Not sure how to get the right one in the right size? Here's how.
Sweating it out
5. Get a running coach.
The firm commanding voice from a coach is your guide to your goal and may salvage you from sharp pains a.k.a. injuries, according to Greatist.com. If you can't afford paying a coach, there's always Plan B, which is…
6. Train with an experienced runner.
Long-time joggers will be more than willing to share their running wisdom gained from miles of experience. During your long-run trainings, having a buddy can push you to dash up to the last meter.
7. Run three times a week.
If you want to take this journey on your own, by all means go. Hit the road (or the treadmill) for a run three times a week, with at least 24 hours of rest from running in between. Incorporate a long run (a slow and steady run that builds endurance), an easy run (a short and slow run intended for recovery) and a fartlek or speed session.
8. Include strength training in your program.
During non-running days, visit the weights room to build strong core, leg and upper body muscles, and avoid injury. No gym membership? No problem. You can still perform strength training exercises sans any dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball. Plank your way to a stronger core. Squats, lunges, burpees and mountain climbers require no gym equipment at all. Note that proper form is important. Thankfully, Women's Health wants you to learn how to squat and perform mountain climbers the right way.
9. Protect your skin from UV rays when running under the sun.
Don't take your skin for granted, and make your dermatologist happy by heeding this piece of advice.
10. Make yourself visible when running at night.
Wear light-colored fabrics like white or yellow so motorists can see you. Put on reflective gear like vests to increase your visibility.
11. Strategize your hydration.
Throughout your training, you'll learn how much water to sip to get you through the next few kilometers. Note down where water stations will be located on the race course, so you know how often you should gulp down some fluids. Are the water stations situated every 2km or 5km? Be wary of gulping down sports drinks at water stations you've never tried before. You might run to a bathroom instead of sprinting to the finish line.
12. Conduct a "dress rehearsal."
During one of your long runs before the race, wear your race-day ensemble: from sports bra to socks and shoes. This way, you'll know if a piece of clothing will cause chafing or become uncomfortable as you run. More important, never race with a new pair of shoes. If you're running a race outside the country, check the weather and bring appropriate gear.
13. Nourish your body.
Ditch the "empty calories" and pick foods that will aid your recovery after every workout and help you hit your target race time.
14. Hydrate well as race day approaches.
Do not, however, overdo it. It's best to toe the starting line optimally hydrated.
15. Eat the right amount of carbs.
A 10km run is not reason for you to devour a mountain of pasta. The idea behind carbo loading is to increase the amount of glycogen in the runner's body, so you can run longer and not "hit the wall." Loading on carbohydrates may not be even necessary for a 10km run, since it is only needed for exercises that take 90 minutes or longer. Consult a dietician or nutritionist if you want to know the optimum amount of protein, carbs and fat you should be taking.
PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Presidio of Monterey; GIFS: Giphy