“How I train for my first 10K”

I suck at racing. In fact I am so damn, i even wrote an article about how i am a trash runner. Finding out how bad I am at jogging, I swore to myself never to try again.

So it’s a little worrying that I agreed to train and participate in the Asics Austrian Women’s Run, an event that brings together more than 20,000 women from all over the world. While running might not be my forte (to put it mildly), the idea of ​​being part of such a huge and challenging challenge seems too good an opportunity to pass up.

It’s not that I’m out of shape; I once survived 20 minutes on a treadmill. But every time I’ve tried running outside of the gym and on the road or park trail, the pain and discomfort has been intense and immediate.

Hoping to develop the mental resilience to carry on, I agreed to run through the heart of Vienna. And luckily, Asics was on hand to provide a detailed workout plan. So here’s how a committed non-runner started training for his first 10k.

Get gait analysis and tips for beginners

When I tell friends that I’m training for the women’s race, one of my friends recommends that I listen to music that can drown out negative thoughts. So, I get my hands on some headphones and start thinking about curating a decent playlist.

I meet my Asics trainer, Ania Gabb, on a Teams call, who then takes me for a walk test at the Asics store in Oxford Street.

Before you set foot on a road or treadmill, you want to make sure you’re running in the right kind of shoes. At the store, I run for 30 seconds on a treadmill while a webcam records how my feet land with each step. The computer determines that I’m in the 20-30% of the population that runs with a neutral gait, which means my foot placement doesn’t roll over while I’m running. The expert on site then tells me about the types of trainers you need for a 5k or 10k.

This may sound ridiculous, but until then, I didn’t think shoes would be such a vital part of the running process. I have always trained with the same pair of sneakers. But if you consider that a 10k can run you for over an hour, you need better support, space, and shock absorption.

Leaving for a test… and almost dying

After the shoe store comes the test. I say “test”, but it’s more a way for the trainer to assess my current level of confidence and ability before designing a program to follow. And although Ania is really friendly and cool about us running slowly and being able to stop at any time, I really struggle.

As soon as we start, Ania starts asking me questions… to which I try breathlessly to provide answers. Having barely mastered the art of running for more than two minutes in real life, trying to talk and run feels like I’m drowning in air. I hate every second.

I am so pissed that I put myself in such an unpleasant and sterile position. I suck at running, and yet I waste time on an Asics Frontrunner.

We break up the run by trying to do ‘stride’, which is short bursts of faster running with recovery intervals. Strides are known to help improve running form, relax muscles, prevent injury and increase speed as a beginner runner.

It was then that Ania enthusiastically told me the story of a candidate from the island of love (Priya Gopaldas), who claims to have woken up one day during confinement and decided to run 30km non-stop. Today, she is an ultramarathon runner and another Asics Frontrunner Ambassador. While his story is undoubtedly inspiring, it only makes me feel even worse about my pathetic attempt to put one step ahead of the other. After what felt like an eternity, we finally stop.

Solo training weeks one and two: how to work up to 5,000 km

Ania sets herself three challenges for the first week: a 20-minute run on the treadmill and two easy outdoor runs consisting of three-minute intervals between walking and jogging.

The first run feels natural because I’ve run on the treadmill before. Running on a treadmill is fine because there’s nothing to distract you (like the wind or other people passing you). After a few minutes, I feel like I’m moving into a meditative-like state, and it’s that mental space of deep work that I need to access to run outdoors.

I enjoy the two interval sessions. Surprisingly, because I can concentrate on running for a very short period of time – knowing that it will soon be over.

The second week, I run outside continuously for 20 minutes. Ania tells me I can go as slow as I want, as long as I don’t stop. I’ve never run this long, so before I go, I try to eliminate as many distractions as possible.

I buy a Spotify premium account so I don’t get bothered by ads halfway through, I get a fanny pack for my phone (so I don’t get tempted to keep an eye on the clock to see how far I’ve ran ) and I download a running app to track my progress in the background.

Headphones on, soundtrack blaring, I set off down a Devonshire country road to take on my own 20-minute demon. For the first few minutes, I’m in agony. My chest hurts, my ribs hurt, I have a burning sensation in my legs. My breath is out of sync, but I’m determined to keep running. Soon the music quiets down and an American voice announces that I have run for five minutes and tells me the distance covered and the pace. Five minutes later, I concentrate to get to 10.

Eventually, my heart and breath begin to dance in rhythm, the pains around my body subside, and I begin to enter that meditative state I had found on the treadmill. I am running. There is no ‘high’ but I put one foot in front of the other. As I walk towards my goal, an upbeat yet euphoric song begins to play (Jerusalema by Master KG). I feel overwhelmed with emotion to have crossed this solid mental barrier. I actually cried when the American voice told me I had run for 20 minutes.

Since that breakthrough, I realized that I could and would run a 10k. I just need to reset my environment to cultivate a meditative type state.

The race is due to take place in Austria on May 22, so I have four weeks of training left. I got up to run for 30 minutes without stopping – about 5 km. Over the next month, I will double that effort. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but whatever, I’ll do my best.

Stay tuned for more on Stephanie’s journey to 10K.

Images: Getty

Evelyn C. Tobin