Running: 10 fool proof tips to get from couch to 10k

It has been a while since I have posted about my running progress, but I have been working at it (almost) steadily since the new year in order to reach my 10k goal.  Theoretically once you can get to 5k, reaching 10k shouldn’t be hard.  I had no doubt that if I continued to run regularly my fitness levels would increase to enable me to run up to 10k.  This is the same for most people lucky enough to not have any major physical health challenges.  It was the mental challenges while running that I found much more difficult to beat!
I ran my first 10k several weeks ago (yay!) but it definitely took me far longer to get there than it could have.  I don’t believe in obsessing over exercise so I am happy that I achieved the goal in the time appropriate for me.  Sometimes real life gets in the way of training plans, and that’s okay, but if I train for a half marathon in the same half arsed way as I did for 10k it will probably take me years!
So here are my ten tips towards achieving a 10k running goal -personally tried, tested, failed, and tried again by me! ;-)  They are very simple and very obvious but sometimes difficult to apply!  These tips aren’t rocket science and they’re not technical.  You will have heard them all before, just like I did when I started running.  The big difference happened when I actually began to consistently listen to and apply everything on this list.  I was shocked at how my running progress then took off!  If you are somewhere between the couch and 10k hopefully these simple tips will help you to achieve your running goals too!
1. Run regularly.  Aim for three to four times a week if possible and have the days planned.  Sometimes life will get in the way, but be somewhat strict about what prevents you from going for that run. Not running because of a sudden emergency or illness, OK.  Not running because you are feeling a little bit tired, not OK!  At this stage, running 5km for thirty minutes can be pretty easily squeezed in anywhere in your day.  It’s better to stick to a plan than to skip a day, so if you really can’t manage a full run, even just run a quick 2k to keep yourself in the rhythm and habit.  Chances are that once you get out of the door and begin running, you will feel amazing again and you’ll do the whole distance planned!
2. Plan when you are going to get to 10k and how you are going to get there.   When I finally kicked my arse in to gear I went from a good 5km to 10k in 5 weeks. I ran 5k twice during the week and added on an extra kilometer during each run on the weekend.
3. Fuel your body.  Stay hydrated all day and eat well.  Leave space after meals before running and have a nutritious snack afterwards.
4. Take care of your body.  Rest and cross train on the days when you’re not running.  I alternated yoga & resistance training on the days that I didn’t run, but made sure that it was in a pattern whereby my muscles could repair themselves.  Look after any injuries, no matter how small.   Listen to and don’t force your body.  Get enough sleep and let your body repair and recover!
5. Try running with other people.  Some people enjoy running alone but most people find it a struggle and a real demotivator, especially when starting out.  I enjoy solo running but it can be a lot more fun with others.  I use the website to find local running groups and join runs with no need to commit to a regular schedule, but that option is there also if you want it.  It has been great to meet a variety of runners at different levels all willing to share their wisdom and enthusiasm.  As these people are already really passionate about running, it will motivate you further.  The distance flies by when you’re having a chat, and the nagging voice in your head telling you that you’re tired is a lot easier to drown out!  You can even meet some regular running buddies who are training towards the same goal that you are.  Yet another motivator!  I love meeting new people, learning new things and expanding my horizons and if you can do that while ticking off one of your weekly runs, all the better!
6. Occupy your mind.  This was my worst enemy.  In the middle of a run my mind would start throwing distractions and excuses at me!  “You’re tired”. “You’ve ran enough”. “You’re bored”.   When I began running I never listened to music, as even that was too much of a distraction when I needed all of my focus for the struggle to keep breathing!  As I got fitter, I continued not listening to anything while I ran but suffered with demotivation and boredom!   I now have a playlist of absolute bangers to help me to feel motivated! :-D  Podcasts are also popular with runners and I plan to try listening to them for longer distances.   I love the idea of multi-tasking -educating yourself while you exercise!
7. Going further than music, running is a great way to incorporate meditation in to your day.  I admit that I haven’t quite mastered this one yet!  But what better opportunity to empty your mind than when you have a long distance to run.  Repeating a mantra in your mind will definitely help with the meditation as well as zoning out to cover the distance.  Or you could try emptying your brain of thoughts or using a mindfulness technique.  Not only will you have given your body a work out, your mind will have been switched off the whole time leaving you completely refreshed and restored!  I am planning to work on this a lot more while training for the half marathon.
8. Track your progress.  If you have a smart phone, running apps are a real motivator as they measure your distance and speed.  Don’t pretend that those cheesy american voices telling you that you just ran your fastest kilometer ever don’t make you smile and think “hell yeah, I’m awesome!” :-)  They really help to keep the momentum going!
9.Some days motivation will be low for different reasons. It your mind is really throwing a tantrum and convincing you that it’s okay to skip your planned run.. stop thinking about it, just put on your shoes and leave the house!  Once you’re out the front door in your running gear, the shame and guilt will be too strong for you to turn around and walk back inside!  ;-)  If it’s raining, so what, you’re going to need a shower anyway and you can get some negative ion exposure while you’re at it! ;-)
10. Vary your runs and make it interesting.  If you’re getting bored with your usual route, find a new one.  Start doing interval training or speed training to keep yourself challenged and motivated, and vary your routes with a variety of flat and hilly ground.  I love just running on auto pilot without planning and seeing where it will take me -I’ve found some nice little nature spots this way!
My next goal of a half marathon will obviously need a much more intricate and technical training plan in order to build endurance and prevent injury.  I’m not sure where to begin but I can’t wait to start!  Do any readers have any tips and training plans for half marathons?  Let me know in the comments!

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34 thoughts on “Running: 10 fool proof tips to get from couch to 10k

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  13. Great tips! Way to go! I’ve been running on/off, but I really need to be more consistent. Definitely putting on some music next run, and setting a schedule. Thanks for the inspiration! :D

    • Hi Abby, delighted that you got inspired by my post! I know all too well the battle with trying to be consistent! ;-)

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