With just under one month go to to the big day, your training should be well underway. Of course, being human and life being as busy and hectic as it is, things may not have gone 100% to plan. But that’s okay; just because you miss a run or are feeling slow or sluggish, doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to bring back your mojo.
Start eating healthier – now!
Nutrition is a vital part of fitness and the best part is, even if you have slipped up on that front you now have an entire month to cut out the chocolate and start building your body up. If you’ve been feeling sluggish or demotivated, it might be that a) you’re not eating enough or b) you’re not eating the right food.
Ensure you have a healthy mix of carbs, protein and lean fat in your diet. There are loads of food tracking apps that will help you track this, but also eating lots and lots of leafy greens, sweet potatoes, kale, berries, fruit, nuts, lean meat, chicken or Quorn, cheese, hummus and wholegrain pasta/bread can really give you a boost in the right areas.
Never be afraid of carbs, either – do not believe the scaremongerers! They are a runner’s best friend and your body needs these if you’re training hard and fast. Another very easy win is to drink more water. Anytime you think of it, opt for a large glass of water; if necessary bring a bottle with you wherever you go.
Revise your training plan
Four weeks out, you should be running at least three times per week and cross-training once or twice. If this isn’t happening for you, it’s worth revising your timetable to make it fit around what you’ve got going on.
For me, I find having an office-hour job can play havoc on my running schedule. You come home exhausted some evenings and just want to veg out in front of the TV.
This is why I’ve found getting up early one or two mornings per week to go for a short run can really help and keep my evenings free. Or better still, buy an affordable running backpack and jog to work!
Now that the mornings are brighter, it makes what sounds like a horrific task for some much easier and leaves your evenings free to hibernate with some bad TV.
Get a sports massage
While a 10k isn’t the longest of distances, repeatedly running and pushing your body with no rehabilitation aside from basic stretching doesn’t do it much good. Bristol is chocked full of physiotherapists, sports masseuses and Groupon/Wowcher deals for such, so why not take advantage of this and treat your legs, back and hips to a massage? I would personally recommend The Medical, which has branches all around Bristol, and Ben Andrews, based in Clifton. Both have helped me out physio-wise in the last few years and really know their stuff.
Get some sleep
It sounds basic, after all, it’s what you do every night – right? But aside from nutrition, getting enough good-quality, restful sleep is vital to your 10k training to keep your mind and body at optimum form.
If you’re having trouble, try drinking chamomile tea, having a nice hot bath or reading a book rather than looking at screens an hour before bed.
I also find that mindfulnes apps which provide free mindful meditation to be really beneficial just before I go to sleep, to help me properly nod off.
Address any niggles
This is anything that may be troubling you. Now is the time to check if your trainers are the right ones for race day and if not, source a new pair and break them in. Now’s the time to get a physio to take a look at the ache in your knee or your hip and address it before the big day. Or you may even just be anxious about running in front of a large crowd. It happened to me the first time I ran the 10k; I got so overwhelmed that I had butterflies for the first few miles! If you feel like this, try jogging more often around others (through the city centre, for example – but stay safe on the roads!) to get yourself used to the feeling.
Make a raceday plan
You should ‘taper’ about a week or two before your 10k. Do your longest run about two to three weeks prior and then ease it off, gently edging down to slower, shorter runs before race day.
On that note, make a plan for the day itself. Figure out how you’re going to get there, what you’re going to wear, keep your race number safe when it comes through the post, and pack a bag of pre and post run snacks. Find out what group of runners you’ll be in (your race number will tell you this) and what time you’ll be starting.
Bring along some layers in case it’s chilly or raining on the day. And the race organisers will have safety pins for your race number, so don’t try to iron it on (like a very naive blogger did on her first 10k day…)
If you’re running for a charity, check out and see if they have a stand there on the day and try to pop by and say hello.
Make sure you start the race off slow, too. A lot of first time 10k runners go head first into the race and slow down toward the end; but you want to build it up slow, let people pass you out and pace yourself. You will catch up with them; don’t worry! And if you don’t, remember, you’re running for yourself anyway.
And good luck – see you at the start line!Image courtesy of Rachael Power