The Sporting Life 10k was the very first road race I ever did.
:: Me with Sarah Tory (left) that time we biked from Paris to Rome ::
I ran it eleven (ek!) years ago with my friend Sarah Tory. We were 14 and wide-eyed! I called Sarah on a Wednesday and on the Sunday we went for the race. I did absolutely nothing to prepare – except I bought new running shoes! We took the subway to the start and I remember thinking I had no idea how long 10 km actually was! We got to the start and took off. Sarah – built like a gazelle, set the pace with me BARELY hanging on. It was painfully hard but somehow we managed to cross the line with a time of 50:25. Originally I thought it would probably take us around double that so we were both pretty happy with the result! I remember that day well because it was also the very first time I'd ever been to Starbucks – I felt pretty cool sipping my soy latte post race!
Since my debut I've run Sporting Life three times, once about five years ago, then with a client who absolutely blew me away, and again last year. My goal last year was to break the 40 minute mark. Pretty gutsy seeing as though my previous personal best was around 44 minutes. Because the run course is all downhill it is the best place to set a goal like that. In order to achieve this I incorporated more interval training into my routine. My runs were short (no longer than 30 minutes) but hard. I didn't do really any long runs at all.
When race day came I felt ready to rocket. I arrived 30 minutes early to warm-up - something I've never done before for that kind of race! The gun sounded and I along with 10,000 other runners took off!! The first 5 km went by in no time. I crossed the halfway line in a perfect 19:40. I felt pretty good and was hopeful that I could hang on for the last half. That was until around the 7.5 km – 8.5 km mark where I lost it. I got a cramp and felt like the wind had been knocked straight from my sails. BRUTAL. Every single step was counted. Er.
I crossed the line at 41:50, happy that I'd PBed by over 2 minutes but also upset that I didn't hit my goal.
I learned a lot from last year and this year I think I'm ready to really crush it.
What I did right:
1. I went out hard. When you're going for a sub 40 time you have to run FAST. Like Ryan Gosling with puppies at the finish line fast. I had a perfect start to the race and I wouldn't change a thing.
2. I had a great warm-up. I did a 10 minute jog to warm-up and then I did some dynamic mobility exercises that I learned from my track days + a few quick sprints (10 seconds ish x 10) called strides. I was ready at the start and the warm-up wasn't too much.
3. I trained for it. If you're running this or any 10 km give yourself at least two months to prep – especially if you haven't really run all winter!
4. I ran my own race. It is fine to start with friends but if you're going for a time you're best to do it on your own or with someone who is faster than you. You can't feel bad for leaving someone halfway through a race.
5. My outfit. Ok this sounds superficial but seriously the wrong outfit can ruin a race – if you're constantly pulling your shorts down, if your arms start to chafe you're not going to have a good time or time! I wore the technical race shirt provided and tights only – no sweater. It was perfect. I will remember to underdress this year, you will warm-up very quickly.
Here's what I didn't do that I'm doing for sure starting right now:
1. Run faster, longer. The 7-9 km mark is really where a race is won or lost in a 10k. Most people can have a pretty great start and final km but the 7-9 km is where you really show your fitness. It's hard to keep that kind of speed up over a distance. My interval runs are typically only 20 minute sessions but I will gradually up them in both volume and interval time. Starting this week I will included some kilometer repeats in my twice weekly speed workouts. I will also start to add in some long runs outside (45-60 minutes).
2. Run outside. Treadmill running is awesome during the winter but it doesn't train your muscles to move optimally for racing. On a treadmill your body is pushed by the belt, on the ground you have to push your body. Outdoor running builds different muscles (and character!). Starting now I will be doing 90% of my running outside.
3. Eat well. This time last year I remember still having a little bit of an extra winter tire and in general my nutrition was far from optimal. When you're not fuelling your body right for your workouts it really shows. And come race day when you're carrying that extra tire over 10 km every glass of wine, brownie, pizza slice comes with you too! I'm not dieting but I am starting to make healthier food choices – veggies first!
4. Run with friends. It feels great to meet up with friends for a workout! You kill two birds and I usually go for coffee after.
5. Have fun! Really at the end of the day it's important to keep in mind this race is for an amazing cause and it's just one day. I know I'm in better shape than I've ever been and I'm looking forward to the challenge but I won't be heartbroken if I'm a little over my goal … as long as I'm faster than everyone else in my family I'll be ok with it!!!!
Want to run with me Bod Squad?! Let me know, we are putting a team together!