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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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