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Tips for cracking a 10km run (when you struggle to sprint for the bus)

Image via Thinkstock.

I used to be the kind of person who couldn’t even run from my house to the bus stop – and the bus stop is at the end of the street.

Of all the sports, running was my least favourite, largely because of how much I struggled with it. I found it incredibly unsatisfying and frustrating when I couldn’t run more than a few metres without getting tired.

In May this year, I smashed my first 10km run. I didn’t run it quickly, so my time wasn’t amazing. But still – I did it. I crossed the finish line. I ran the entire way. And at the end of the race, I was unbelievably proud of myself.

Here are my tips for cracking the 10km, even if you too struggle running to the bus stop.

1) Find a training routine that suits you – and stick to it

You need to find a training routine that suits you – and ONLY you. Of course, this depends on what your personality. If you’re the kind of person who loves a strict routine and needs to have set goals, put together a weekly program and make sure you follow through. Your program should include three or four runs per week, as well as a couple of days where you do something like yoga or strength training.

Personally, I don’t do well with strict schedules and training programs, so I just made an effort to move as much as possible. I ran when I could, but I also joined a gym and did Zumba classes, Body Pump, Body Attack, HIIT workouts, hot yoga and weights training. Every day was different, but every little bit helped towards improving my fitness, as well as strengthening and toning my entire body.

2) Don’t be afraid to run with music

Music is a bit of a contentious issues when it comes to organised runs. Some people refuse to run without it, and some people refuse to run with it.

I’ve always felt a bit odd taking my iPod and sports headphones to running events with me – but when it came to my 10km run, I got over it, plugged my headphones into my ears, and put on my favourite running playlist. It made such a huge difference to my motivation and made me run that little bit faster, even when my legs and lungs were starting to protest.

3) Find a running buddy

It’s much harder to talk yourself out of things when there is someone else depending on you. And if your running buddy does the race with you, there’s someone else there to share your exhilaration when you cross the finish line.

Just make sure to pick a running buddy that is close to your running level – you don’t want to run with someone who is pretty much Usain Bolt, when you’re struggling to even just crack a kilometre in under eight minutes.

Nat was lucky enough to get a pair of Brooks Glycerin 12 from The Athlete's Foot. Image supplied.

4) Gear up

In order to run, you need to be prepared – and this means investing in gear that’s going to make your running journey as comfortable and safe as possible.

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Find running clothes that are comfortable and don’t ride up, down or sideways. Buy a running bra that holds your boobs in place. Invest in a good water bottle, special running socks (they make a difference, I promise you) and a hat if you’re going to be running in the sun.

The most important purchase you can make is a new pair of running shoes. It may seem silly, but your shoes will make or break your running experience. With the right pair, you will smash that 10km run – and with the wrong pair, you will end up on the couch with a very unhappy ankle or knee.

I have ruined so many days by running in shoes that aren’t supportive enough for my demanding feet, and I’m so sick of having dodgy ankles and knees. So I took myself off to my local Athlete’s Foot store and sat down to be fitted for the perfect pair of runners.

The Athlete's Foot have super-fancy technology which shows you exactly how you walk and how your foot makes contact with the ground. They fit you with shoes to match what you need to be adequately supported during your run, and cater your choice to suit exactly what kind of training you’re doing.

It turns out that I have a high arch, which means that my foot is more rigid – and so I needed a shoe with deep flexibility, to allow more movement in the foot. I also needed a particular level of stability, so Keith – the lovely gentleman that served me at The Athlete’s Foot – found me a shoe that was both flexible and stable enough to suit me.

I ended up with a pair of Brooks shoes that are like the Iron Man of running shoes – they make me look so much more hardcore than I actually am, which is a definite mood-booster when I wake up in the morning and slide them onto my feet.

 5) Be proud of yourself

I know it sounds a little lame, but it’s SO important to give yourself a pat on the back after each run, regardless of how fast or slow or far you’ve managed to go. Keep a running diary or buy a fitness tracker that monitors your progress, and keep reminding yourself of how far you’ve come. It could make all the difference.

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