‘Slow and steady wins the race’ – a lovely sentiment for life, nonsense when it comes to actually competing in an event. What you need then is SPEED.
I don’t naturally possess any. And, bizarrely, the more races I’ve done the slower I’ve got. My 10k times have gone in decline: 58 mins, 59 mins, 1hr 5mins… If I let the trajectory continue, I’d eventually grind to a halt. So a couple of months back I decided to set my next 10k race – Sure Run to the Beat, this weekend – as a goal to work towards a new personal best (PB). And I called on the wisdom of Fitness First‘s Scott Mackenzie to help me train.
The eight weeks that followed involved many a lunchtime and post-work run, a lot of sweat, and a handful of tantrums. But yesterday I did it – I smashed a PB, and looked all proud (and red-faced). In fact, just like this…
Want to up the ante too? Here are Scott’s top tips that helped me become a bit more hare-like. They really do work (and can be adapted to a 5k too)*:
HIT THOSE INTERVALS Interval training is key when working towards a PB. In the past I’ve done pretty short ones, but Scott recommends making them a decent distance when training for a 10k to really push up your fitness: 10 x 600m (hard and steady), with two minutes recovery (slow jog/walk) in between. I cried a bit the first time I tried this, and only managed six (whilst feeling in red alert vom territory). But I did two intervals sessions a week (in theory. I actually missed a lot so don’t worry if you do too) and managed to build up to the full 10 in the last couple of weeks. Get as close as you can – you will feel the gains. Promise. (If you’re training for a 5k, try 200-300m intervals).
OUT-TRAIN THE DISTANCE This is especially useful if you struggle with endurance (i.e. if on race day you can usually run a fair chunk of the distance at pace but lose it at the end). If you’re training for a 5k build up to long runs of about 8k, if you’re training for a 10k go up to about 15k. (I factored in one ‘long’ run a week). Knowing you can run further than you need to will make the race distance seem much shorter and easier.
SET A SENSIBLE TARGET Don’t work towards a PB in an abstract way. Decide the time you actually want to hit, and then work out what pace this equates to. Each week, practise running a few more kms at that pace, until you can do the full distance (your long run is a good chance to test this out). Be realistic – shaving 5+ minutes off your current PB is a BIG ask. I only aimed to get mine down by one minute. In the end I actually smashed it by nearly 4 – and was all the more chuffed because I didn’t expect to
*NB. These tips are only for you if you’ve already completed a few races already and are ready to push for a PB, not complete beginners.
VITALS: runtothebeat.co.uk, @runtothebeat; fitnessfirst.co.uk, @FitnessFirstUk, @fit_Scott
P.s. Race report: I’d (blindly) expected the route to be pretty flat, but there were at least three tough hills, which made my PB challenge extra…errr…challenging. While the event was well-organised, the mostly-residential course was not especially exciting and there weren’t many supporters en route – or as many pumping tunes as I expected. But Wembley stadium itself makes for a cool backdrop for photos and a welcome sight to tell you you’re nearly home around the 7-8k mark. Oh, and the designer outlet there is awesome for picking up bargainous fitness gear from the likes of Nike, New Balance and Adidas.