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Cerelia

Absolute beginner to 10K: Lessons learned and tips to share

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Hi everyone!

I'd like to post my experience on being an absolute beginner to running and getting to the 10k mark.  I found it very difficult in the beginning, and wanted to share some things I've learned and some tips that will hopefully help others.  I started off doing the Zenlabs C25K and moved straight up to their 10K app.  My fitness level was average, and all my running was done on a treadmill.  It took 12 weeks and I'm 47 yrs. old.

When I first started out it was hard.  I mean, OMG I really wanted to get each running session over with.  I hated it, complained to myself all the time, and didn't enjoy anything about the whole process!  It was a tough trudge and I wanted an excuse all the time to get out of it.  I had NO concept how anyone could even remotely enjoy it, never mind really look forward to it every day.  Well... I actually went from feeling this miserable and negative to really enjoying running and actually experiencing that "runners high" that I'd read about.  I'd like to share my experience for those who are at the beginning and feeling as disillusioned and dejected about running as I did.

TIP 1
When you first start out, it's gonna be hard.  There's no way around that, BUT it's pretty short lived.  If you follow a structured program like the C25K, you progress at a nice rate.  I ran every other day.  12 weeks later, I'm in a very happy place.

TIP 2
Music.  There is no way in hell I could have got to the 10K mark without a GREAT playlist of music that has a fantastic beat.  This was an absolute must for me.  I learned to quickly get rid of songs with beats that didn't work, and add more songs that I loved and that had beats that really kept me going.

TIP 3
The beginning of a run is always tough.  I assumed the more I progressed that this would go away, but it doesn't.  Even at 10K, that first 4-6 mins is like getting over a hill - it REALLY sucks!  I assumed it's just my body suddenly adapting to going from a stationary state to a running state, but whatever it is, the beginning of a run is like a challenging hump to get over.  That leads me to the next tip.

TIP 4
When you get into a schedule and get better at it, you really want to get over the misery of the "run start-up."  I did a lot of research into this and went to a local running store.  The consensus is that the beginning of a run is always tough.  Always the optimist, I was determined to try and make it easier, so I started researching supplements.  Now... I'm a really healthy person.  I eat 100% organic, vegetarian, no processed food at all, and only pasture-raised dairy, so the thought of supplements wasn't top of my list.  But I did learn that caffeine can really help with that tough part at the beginning of a run.  I don't drink coffee at all, and the fact my office co-workers are addicted to their caffeine fix make me have zero interest in coffee!  BUT, I wanted to make my run easier so I tested out 200mg caffeine (in supplement form) 30 mins before a run.  Damn, it really helped...!  I hate to admit it, but now that tough beginning to a run is so much better.  I'm really hoping that as time passes by I can phase out the caffeine, but right now, I'm sticking with it :-)

TIP 5
Always spend a couple of mins stretching before you get started.  I do 3 simple stretches.  1) rag doll, bending at the waist for 30 secs to give my hamstrings a good stretch, 2) quad stretch, bending at the knee and holding my ankle behind me against my butt to stretch my quad for 30 secs, and 3) holding knee into my chest to stretch my glute for 30 secs.  If I DON'T stretch, I notice the first few mins are tougher and more challenging to me.

TIP 5
KNOW it's going to get easier.  For me, that didn't happen until 10K.  It just didn't, and that was 12 weeks.  That's not to say it was all tough, but I never felt that "oh, this is a breeze!" feel at all.  When I reached 10K and stuck to that 3-4 times a week, I started feeling good about it.  My music list was full of energy and awesome beats, my body had adapted, and I really started to enjoy it.  The first few mins is still tough, but the caffeine helps, so that's ok! 

TIP 6
This may not apply to everyone, but I found using a treadmill to be a life saver.  I did the "interval" setting where you could set two speeds, one walk and one run, and it made it so much easier for me as I toggled between the speeds.  I also like to have the company of people around me in a gym.  I tried several times running outside and failed - I'm not sure why, but I couldn't get in to it.  Being at a gym somehow gave me more accountability and put me in the right mental state.  I really needed all the help I could get, and I needed the treadmill.

My summary is that I went from absolutely HATING running in the beginning to suddenly looking forward to doing a 1/2 marathon.  I mean, to me that's shocking that I went from one extreme to another, but I did!  Hopefully these tips can help others because they are what I found was the most helpful for me :-)

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Quick question for you. I know your post was from February but I am hoping you are still around... when you started, were you in "decent" shape or an absolute couch potato? You said your fitness level was "average", what exactly is average? Thanks!

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Hi there,

Well, I did power yoga 3+ times a week from a "formal exercise" standpoint, but no cardio.  I also did daily walks with the dog, and consider myself active in general.  But first time I got onto that treadmill, literally after 30 seconds I wanted to give up.  I think that people can call themselves physically fit, but when it comes to running for first timers it feels like any fitness built up has gone out of the window :-)

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The one thing I noticed after my 5K this past weekend was how different it was being on the pavement compared to the treadmill. I feel like I have "treadmill legs" and running on the pavement felt so awkward (for lack of a better way to describe it). In the interim I'm still dealing with ridiculously sore shins from Sunday. I don't know if I should keep moving or give my legs some time to rest... 

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Yeah, that's pretty common from what I've heard.  I was actually just reading up on transitioning from the treadmill to outside (I do 10K 4 x week only on the treadmill).  I learned:

  1. Forces are greater outdoors than on a treadmill which has some "bounce" to it.  This means your body feels more impact.
  2. Movements vary much more outside as the ground is never totally flat and surfaces can be uneven.
  3. You have to propel yourself forward more outside, whereas the treadmill helps propel you forward with the movement of the tread.
  4. Unless you have an accurate GPS, your speed is likely different as it's much less controlled outside than on a "fixed speed" on a treadmill, so you may have been running faster.

My local running store told me to transition slowly outside because of these differences.  It's recommend that you take 2-3 weeks off if you have shin splints, and if you have to run, here's some advice from runner's world:

<<<If you have to keep running with shin splints, our Runner's World physio recommends you do so on a treadmill, with the incline set to five – the incline means the forefoot has less distance to travel to the floor, meaning the muscles have less work to do. Run for five minutes, then do some of the stretches below. Repeat this up to five times as long as you have little or no pain. As the pain reduces, increase the duration of the runs then start to remove some of the stretch stops.>>> 

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32 minutes ago, Cerelia said:

"My local running store told me to transition slowly outside because of these difference.  It's recommend that you take 2-3 weeks off if you have shin splints"

 

I am beginning to think that I may need to rest my legs for a while. It's so disappointing but the pain is telling me to stop pushing. I'll definitely work the incline on my treadmill and when I am back to running I'll transition slowly over to being outside. Thank you for the info! ^_^

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Yeah, I'd do the same thing.  I have a habit of pushing when I shouldn't, which made a tennis elbow take much longer to heal than it should of.  Then, shoulder tendinitis that took longer because I overdid things.  I've finally learned my lesson :-)

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On 3/20/2019 at 1:33 PM, Cerelia said:

I think that people can call themselves physically fit, but when it comes to running for first timers it feels like any fitness built up has gone out of the window :-)

That is so true. I have been working out for two years and thought I was in fairly good shape. I knew that I'd be lucky to run a full minute initially, but thought I'd follow the running schedule better. For example, I should be able to run 5 or 10 minutes or more by now, but I am lucky to run 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. 

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Something interesting to note (for me, anyway)

When I had been running 5K for a couple of weeks, I still felt like it was so tough - a struggle - difficult.  It felt exhausting.  But a friend said to me "running is 90% mental."  I thought about that the next time I was on the treadmill and I realized something very surprising.  Half way through the run when I was moaning and complaining to myself, I realized I wasn't  actually tired.  My legs felt just fine.  In fact, I felt pretty good "physically" and I certainly wasn't exhausted.  I was just moaning to myself because I "thought" I was tired.  I "assumed" I was exhausted.  But my legs definitely were not, and I was not out of breath.  I realized that now I was getting used to running, the complaining was indeed mental.  I was so used to assuming I was tired and it was a struggle, that it has just become my mindset. 

I changed that mindset, and it suddenly became MUCH better.  I'd repeat affirmations to myself like "running is SO easy for me" and "I feel SO awesome when I run."  And everything just kinda changed :-)

 

 

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Everyone I know that runs regularly say exactly that. Running is a mental game. 

I hope my self imposed rest doesn’t hurt the mental part  of my training. The upside though is today when I woke up I felt more like myself. Not hurting. Come Saturday I am back to it. 

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Thanks, both of you, for the reminder that a lot of it is mental. I have been wondering that, especially when once or twice I got lost in thought, then suddenly realized I'd gone farther than I thought I could.

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1 hour ago, Silver Pie said:

Thanks, both of you, for the reminder that a lot of it is mental. I have been wondering that, especially when once or twice I got lost in thought, then suddenly realized I'd gone farther than I thought I could.

So tell me how that lost in thought thing works??? LOL

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Oh, yeah, isn't that so weird!!  I'll feel exhausted, but then get distracted by a show on TV and 20 mins later I'll suddenly realize the time as flown by.  Then when I focus on the time again, I "suddenly" feel exhausted.  Hmmmmm..... Yep, most of it is all mental!

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22 hours ago, CleBkPkr said:

So tell me how that lost in thought thing works??? LOL

I don't think it has happened more than about 15 to 30 seconds at a time, and then only twice. Lol

What it tells me, though, is that it's possible to do. I tried doing that this morning. I don't know if I did very well at that but I didn't do too bad in my run. I'm beginning to be encouraged. And I really think, with practice, I will get better and better at being lost in thought, even if it's just looking at the beautiful snow covered mountain to the north of me as I run. That's what I was looking at today during part of the run. (I'm practicing not looking at the ground as I run. :D )

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20 hours ago, Cerelia said:

Oh, yeah, isn't that so weird!!  I'll feel exhausted, but then get distracted by a show on TV and 20 mins later I'll suddenly realize the time as flown by.  Then when I focus on the time again, I "suddenly" feel exhausted.  Hmmmmm..... Yep, most of it is all mental!

I have had experiences like that when I'm walking. If alone, I'll get lost in thought sometimes. If with someone else, I'll get lost in the conversation. It makes it a lot easier to walk a few miles, especially if you're carrying groceries.

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