On Saturday evening, I went for a run around my local park (which is more like a network of parks linked together by a creek and a cycling/walking path that runs along it) and the surrounding neighbourhood. It is probably the best run that I’ve ever done – it’s at least the best run I’ve done in the last few years. I was pretty chuffed (I’m still quite chuffed) to complete 10.1km in under 61 minutes.
I don’t think I’ve actually run 10km since the last time I did Bridge to Brisbane (which was back in 2013). Well, actually, I might’ve done a couple of 10km runs in the intervening time, but certainly not many. Maybe I got to 8km a few times? I am passionate about running, but I never really bothered to properly keep track of these things. (It’s not about the numbers, really.)
But I do know that, in recent months, most of the runs I’ve done have been about 5-6km. That distance takes about half an hour, or a bit more, and has generally satisfied my need to run. However, since signing up for the Bridge to Brisbane fun-run (B2B) again this year, I needed to step this up. For so long, I’ve been telling myself that I’m probably more suited to shorter distances; running 10km would be too much. Maybe I told myself that I just didn’t have the time or energy to run so far, and then maybe I started believing it.
Sometimes I’d think back to my B2B run in 2013 (which I completed in under 68 minutes), and I’d think that was possibly the peak of my fitness as far as long distance running was concerned. It seems like a strange thought for someone in their 20s to have, right? People run marathons well into their 40s and 50s. But, ok, everyone is built differently. I just got to thinking that I couldn’t do 10km runs any more, and that 5-6km was more comfortable for me.
So it was quite daunting signing up for the 10km B2B again this year. I knew that I quite possibly wouldn’t beat my 2013 time, but I told myself that it didn’t matter, and if I ended up walking half of it, at least I knew half of my workmates had opted to walk it too.
All the same, I actually did want to beat my previous time, so I told myself I’d try to do more training and prepare for the race. After buying new running shoes, and taking them for a test run last week-end, I was then sent to Rockhampton for the week, so I didn’t really have a chance to go running again. But I was back in Brisbane by Thursday night, and I was so keen to go for a run.
When I did finally get around to it on Saturday, I didn’t really have a clear plan. I wanted to get to about 10km at a reasonably laidback pace, and not worry too much about the time. I’d previously read that, when training for a long distance run, it’s good to have a mix of “long and slow” runs (or walks) as well as fast or “high intensity” runs (which may or may not be broken into intervals). The idea is that going a long distance (at least as much as what you’re aiming to eventually run) gets your body used to being able to cover that distance. The faster runs then train your body to move at a suitable speed.
So there I was, running around the streets, going wherever the heck I chose because it was about 6:30pm and apparently there aren’t many people or cars out in the suburbs at that time on a Saturday; and I was trying to keep my pace at a slow jog, but I kept wanting to go faster. And I had to keep paying close attention to my pace because I didn’t think that I’d make it to 10km if I kept going so fast. I was also telling myself not to be disappointed if I didn’t make it to 10km, and I could just walk the last couple of kilometres if I had to.
The first 5km actually went quite well – I didn’t need to stop and walk at all – but even then I still had my doubts about making it through to 10km: My left knee didn’t feel quite right (it wasn’t hurting but it wasn’t great either), and I already had a stitch developing.
But I suppose I’m more stubborn/determined than I realised. I did stop and walk for a little bit somewhere between 5km and 6km, but I was soon jogging again. I think what might’ve helped was that, although I’ve run through this park many, many times before, this time I added in lots of side streets and detours to keep it interesting (and there was all that running around the streets at the start, before getting to the park). The new shoes and socks might’ve helped too.
I use the Nike Run app on my phone (because my friend made me get it) but I don’t have the screen on the whole time, so I was kind of trying to guess where the 1km intervals were, and check my progress now and then. What ended up happening was I overestimated the intervals, and ended up checking my progress every 1.2 to 1.5km instead. It was always encouraging to see that I was keeping my pace under 6min/km, but not checking the stats too often probably helped too.
Before I hardly knew where I’d been, I was at about 8.7km and it had only been about 52-53mins. Amazed, I finally started thinking that I could actually possibly do 10km in about an hour. I was walking when I did this time/distance check, but I quickly got back into a jog/run. At 9.6km, I was back in the park, on the main track. In my mind, I was trying to figure out where the next 400m stopped, and I overshot that and got to 10.13km.
Exhilarated and exhausted, I stopped the app, which showed I’d been running for less than 61 minutes. This meant my pace was just over 6min/km, but I was still over the moon with the result; I could hardly believe what I’d just accomplished.
As I walked home (I even ran part of the way, I was just that buzzed), I thought about how I’m fitter than I realised. And I thought that, all along, it wasn’t really about how fit I actually was, but how fit I thought I was; and because I didn’t think I could do another 10km run, I’d just stopped trying to, and I stopped pushing myself.
Well, I certainly learnt my lesson.