28/10/2014 13:10 GMT | Updated 28/12/2014 05:59 GMT

A Beginner's Guide to Running Your First 10k


*Photo supplied by Nike

The other weekend I was given the opportunity to run a 10k in Paris, amazing right? Yes, but that was mainly due to the Paris part, less the 10k. So let me fill you in on a little secret, before that weekend I had never run a 10k. So I was thinking, I wish that I had been told a few things about running your first 10k which would have made my life a little easier. 

So that's exactly what I have done, written a little guide to running your first 10k, this guide is made up of bits of advice I wish someone had told me. It would have helped ease the knots in my stomach and my fear of pounding the pavement for 10 whole kilometres, which to me, seemed like a extremely long distance. 

Now I wouldn't count myself as a runner. I exercise yes, my fitness levels are pretty good but the idea of running 10k when my maximum was only ever 5k made me so nervous. Was this because running 10 kilometres was out of my comfort zone? Or perhaps it was the idea of doing something unknown to me which is what worried me?

So here it goes, a few bits of advice which if I had known before running the race I think I would have felt less nervous the lead up;

1. 10k isn't actually that long a distance

I know in your head it seems like a long way, but in reality it actually goes pretty quickly. If it's the distance that worries you, don't overthink it, just run and before you know it, the finish line will be ahead of you.

2. It shouldn't really matter what time you get

For me this was my first ever race and I became very fixated on what time I should be aiming for and how quickly I could run the 10k. When in reality the time shouldn't take over the whole experience. The race should be about the running and the joy that comes with that. Obviously it's an added bonus if you get a good time, but this shouldn't be the bee all and end all.

3. Enjoy yourself

I wish someone had just sat me down and said "Natalie this run should be a amazing experience, chill out and just enjoy it" but unfortunately they didn't, so that's what I am now saying to you. Enjoy yourself, enjoy the atmosphere, the crowds cheering you on, the motivation you feel when running with a crowd, the sights, the feeling. Running can be a hugely enjoyable experience if you let it. 

4. Find a running partner

Some people like running alone, but for me, as a sociable person, the thing that really made my run was having a running partner. I cannot recommend it enough, not just for races for running in general. My running partner helped motivate me when I needed it and vice versa, and it was amazing to be able to run alongside a friend and share the experience.

5. The post run buzz makes everything worth it

I had been told about the 'post run buzz' on many occasions, I personally had never experienced it before. This changed when I ran 10k, the last kilometre I felt so happy, the crowds cheering you on really made you feel so elevated. I really sprinted the last leg of the race and once I ran through the finish line such a feeling of happiness flooded through me. The sense of achievement of completing the run, of knowing you did it, is quite overwhelming. I have seen people extremely emotional at the end of marathons and half marathons before and never quite understood why. However, I felt bordering on emotional finishing my 10k, so I can only imagine what it must feel like finishing a marathon. Who knows, maybe one day I will be able to tell you?

6. Lastly, have faith in yourself and your body

This last bit of advice is bordering on cheesy. But let's roll with it ok, because it's the truth. Have faith in yourself and your body. I had no faith in myself before my run. I had convinced myself I couldn't run that distance, and why? I was fit and active, I should have had no worries about the run at all, but I did. A lot of the time it's all in your mindset, if you believe in yourself you will be surprised what you are capable of. The human bodies are amazing things and capable of so much, if only you give them the chance.

To read more about my 10k experience check out The Nutritionista