At the end of July, I ran a 10km race; my very first official race. It’s by no means my first 10km I ran – I used to be very sporty and would also run a lot and quite faster than I do nowadays about five years ago. But, it is my first 10km since that very active life from the past, and basically my first 10km in 5 years. I am, however, very proud of this achievement and the work I did to get there so in this blog post I wanted to share a bit more about my story as well as a few running tips that helped me.
Back in 2016, I was very active. Working out was at the top of my priority list, quite literally. I was attending karate trainings 3 times a week, doing kickboxing twice a week, joining crossfit once a week, and then also running 1-3 times a week depending on what my body and time would allow. My running pace used to be around 5:20 min/km and I was working to getting it under 5:00 min/km for casual runs, whereas nowadays I’m at 6:20-6:30min/km, so quite the change. However, I am not sharing this to boast but to simply show you that fitness or exercise can look different at different stages in your life. Life changes and our priorities change with it. And the same happens to the amount of time that we dedicate to exercising or our performance; they change. And that’s fine as long as we keep showing up.
The summer story
Before I share my running tips, I want to share my story. After a few years trying out, this year I’ve finally taken my running journey a tad more seriously. At the start of the year, I told myself I had to get back at it and feel the running joy again. I cherish a lot my running memories from a few years ago. Whether it’s the runs back home in Bilbao, by the river at 10 or 11 pm at night (I used to only run at night back then) where I would so enjoy the river and distant ocean breeze. Or the runs in Berlin, in the park, with the green trees smell and the forest breeze imprinted on my brain. I have known the joy of running in the past, and I wanted to experience it again.
These memories are imprinted in my sensory memory and something I hold on to dearly. They are actually also part of my motivation for running. When I go for a run, I want to feel like that again. I don’t have to have the same exact experience or the same route, but I want to also create new ones. This is definitely my favourite part about running. But probably you don’t want to read about that, but rather how I came back to running this summer and how I ran my first 10 km in a while and what are my running tips.
This year I armed myself with determination, that was the biggest part. I knew I wanted to enjoy the summer by running, and I reminded myself of that every day/week. I also got myself new running shoes – and maybe that also helped – but I definitely don’t attribute my “success” to it. And what I call success is the consistency I managed to achieve. I have been running 2-4 times a week almost every week (I took a couple of weeks to break while in Spain on holidays and then another week after my first vaccine dose) for a few months.
I did my first runs in March. A couple of 3-4 km runs in those March days when we were blessed with 15-20 C degrees. Those runs were slow. I was stopping every kilometer for a couple of minutes to catch my breath. And that was it. April only saw one run. The month was pretty cold in Berlin, and I really don’t like running in the cold. I have to admit I was disappointed I didn’t run more in April. In my head it’s the perfect month to kick off the season.
That’s why when May came around I decided I’d go for runs regardless of the temperature. And I did. It was still a pretty cold month by my standards, but I kept showing up regardless. I slowly increased the runs to 5 and 6 km with only one short break in the middle. Sometimes, I would have no break. I squeezed in 13 runs with a total of 70 km. That’s when things set into motion.
In June I increased the minimum distance for each run to 6km and also did a few 7km runs. I also took a couple of weeks as break as we had a bit of traveling, got the first vaccine and the mandatory rest days, and we also had really high temperatures in Berlin and didn’t dare to adventure on runs during those days. The 2-week break worked wonders though because the July runs felt the best. I was already able to run 5-7km without a break while also fully enjoying them. Being again in the happy running place.
When the race time came, at the end of July, I was feeling fully prepared. I made a killer playlist and enjoyed the run beyond what I would have imagined. The adrenaline kept me running without problems for the full 10km. I even did my very best pace of the summer. It was my first official race but I am looking forward to many more; they are extremely fun and worth it.
Although I am sad to report that the 10km race was the last one I did in summer, I am very happy about the adventure it came with and the consistency I managed to keep throughout most of the season. August and September have been pretty hectic for the most part, with traveling for holidays, getting vaccinated (and the recommended week of rest), more traveling for attending friends’ wedding, and a busy work season due to my offboarding.
All these are excuses, but at the same time, they remind me that life happens. I am excited for my own small “success story” to inspire another one for me (or for anyone else needing to be inspired). Whether it’s still this season or the next one. Whether it’s running or a different activity, these little stories keep building up our bucket of experiences and memories and hopefully inspire and inform better present and future decisions.
My running tips
- Get yourself a running buddy. Whether a person or an app, a running buddy will provide support and company throughout. I want to even incline towards recommending a virtual running buddy, more precisely an app – like the Nike Run Club with their amazing guided runs, or Couch to 5k which is a pretty popular one – to help you through the toughest days. It’s easier to coordinate schedules with an app you can run/train at your own pace and it’s always there, waiting for you.
- Get yourself new running gear. I know, I know, it’s a very on the surface move but it’s so simple and obvious, it works. If you need a bit of extra motivation, don’t shy away from splurging on a couple of new items. Good shoes are a must (remember to always buy them 2-3 sizes bigger than your normal size) but you can also add anything else you fancy on top; new leggings, shorts, you name it.
- Start small and keep showing up. This is the hardest part. Every running season (Spring to Summer is the running season for me because it’s when outdoor temperatures are optimal; I know, I am a picky runner) I have to build my stamina back up. And the first 5-10 runs are really hard. I stop often, easily run out of breath and feel very tired; well you get it. My trick is to allow myself to stop and take a break when needed and then keep going. For these runs, I like to keep the same route so I can easily calculate distance and know for how long to keep pushing. If I want to run 2 km without stopping, I need to be able to tell when that happens. Works for me, but will definitely not work for anyone.
- Set a goal. Having a goal, such as joining a race is a great strategy and worked wonders for me. Signing up for the race didn’t happen from the get-go, only a couple of months into running, but when it did, it helped me to keep showing up because I knew I needed to keep training in order to finish the race. And that was a key element. 5km or 10km races, are great goals to have when starting out, and even on an ongoing basis.
- Find your motivation and hold on to it. Whether you run to have alone time, to improve your fitness health, or simply experience the joy of running, find your motivation and hold on to it, especially in the toughest times.
- Keep showing up. A short run is better than no run. A slow run is better than no run. A run with many pauses is better than no run. And the list goes on. No matter what kind of run you are able to squeeze in on any given day, remember that it’s the best run of that day, and better than no run.
Running Gear & Links
This season I’ve renewed my entire running gear, so I am linking below the pieces I am using or similar ones. As mentioned in my running tips above, I think it’s a nice way to add a little extra motivation, but it isn’t a must.
My running shoes: The shoes I’m running in are the Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2. My exact model (the colours only) was a limited edition but this one is the same and in very pretty colours. I also love this one in a salmon pink colour.
My running shorts: I got myself two pairs this summer and love them. To be honest, I use them for running, working out and even for a casual look. They are just so good. These Nike One shorts are very similar to mine; I especially love the reinforced high waist. I also like the Nike Pro line version of the biker shorts but I don’t have them yet.
Favourite running socks: Love the Nike cushioned socks whether is summer or winter, as they provide a little extra support during runs or workouts. In summer I wear the low sock version and in winter the long sock (which, when wore over tights are a true fashion statement on their own). The long ones are also one of the best winter socks because of their thickness. Highly recommend them, whether you run or not.