How to Go From 5K to 10K
By Ben Davis
So you’ve done a 5K? Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud. If you’re like me and most other runners on the planet, I suspect you’re hooked and you’ve already started plotting your next race.
Maybe it’s another 5K, which is great. But if you are looking to move up and go farther, the next logical step is a 10K.
It can be a frightening prospect, but just think about how daunting 3.1 miles sounded when you first started. Here’s the thing, after finishing your first 5K race believe it or not, you have acquired some pretty important skills to put in your pocket for every race in your future. Don’t believe me? Just think about it.
The first race is usually the hardest. You have no idea what to expect. You’re not even sure how to fasten your bib to your shirt or how that silly-looking timing chip works. Getting to the start is pretty nerve-racking, and waiting for the gun to sound can seem like forever. You take off and you’re not sure if you’re going too fast or too slow. You don’t know how long it will be before the first water station. You try not to bump into other runners. You fumble with your iPod, and you might even question if you’ll be able to finish or run the whole thing without stopping. I’m sure you can relate, right?
But then something happens. You get into a groove. You settle into a pace. Your breathing gets a little easier, more even and you realize you’re actually doing it. All of the times you saw other people running and thought, “It’d be cool to be a runner,” suddenly come to mind and you realize—for maybe the first time—that you are now one of those people.
Then there’s the best part—the finish line. It’s that beautiful banner of plastic waiting for you to cross under it or through it. One step, then another and it’s done, you’ve finished your first race. It’s exhilarating, exciting and probably emotional to some extent. It’s also a learning experience. Now you know you have the mental and physical stamina to finish a 5K. You know you can set a goal and accomplish it. You can push through your nerves, your doubt and maybe even a bit of pain to finish a race.
Through the 5K experience, you also learned that training is important. You’ve gotten to know your body better. You’ve tested your limits and know you are capable of pushing them. It’s this knowledge that will be the driving force to completing a 10K.
Now it’s time to apply those tidbits of know-how you’ve gained along the way. First things first, mentally commit to running at 10K. Once you put your mind to it, everything else will follow. Sign up for a race. That mental commitment coupled with officially registering for a 10K race is a near foolproof method to ensure you’ll follow through. Find a 10K trainingschedule that aligns with your current fitness level and stick with it. Do the training runs and stay committed. Remind yourself where you came from, what you’ve already accomplished and visualize what you want to achieve. See yourself crossing that finish line after 6.2 miles of great effort; it will keep you moving forward. Push yourself to go a bit further even when you’re tired, even when it’s been a long day or week. That extra push will pay off in the end. Pay attention to your body. If something aches, rest. Get sleep. Sustain a healthy diet to fuel your new runner’s body. Set small goals and reward yourself when you attain them. Buy a new wicking shirt or some comfy socks as a reward for your hard work. It’ll also inspire you to get out there and run some more.
And when you line up for your 10K on race day, you’ll be ready. Every new distance is like a graduation. As you transition from a 5K to a 10K, you’ll apply the knowledge and skills you’ve acquired to the longer distance. You build on what you’ve learned along the way. By completing your first 10K (and you will), you will have that much more knowledge to apply to your first half marathon. A 5K is just the beginning. Where there’s a 5K, there’s a 10K. And where there’s a 10K, a half marathon lurks around the bend. Just wait, you’ll see.
Ben Davis is the first Active.com ambassador. He recently lost 130 pounds and plans to lose the last 10 in the coming months. He runs, writes and blogs daily. You can read more about his journey at http://bendoeslife.com.