After being used to running 10-minute miles over the last five years, just training for marathons, I averaged 8-minute miles running 49:56 for the Jane Tomlinson 10km Run for All on July 10th.
It’s probably the biggest success of my running season, since last summer training for last October’s Round Ripon ultra-marathon, when I was just slowly upping the mileage, so I’ll write it below. If you have no interest, please don’t read!
I know it pales into insignificance compared to the fast runners, such as those preparing for the Rio Olympics, but may be of benefit to beginners or intermediates. Although I didn’t do much reading for this training, and made it up as I went along, it’s based on stuff I’ve read over the last thirteen years of running.
10 km Training
While the race day atmosphere was worth the last half a minute, I had reduced my 10 minute miles to 9 and then 8:30 over three weeks before the race. I did this using mile markers on the canal towpath, first timing myself over one mile, and trying to run a mile faster.
On June 28th I then ran the 10km course distance over two instalments, with a ten-minute walk in-between. I ran just under 10-minute miles on the 3 miles outwards, and 9-minute miles for the 3 miles back.
On July 4th I ran below 9-minute miles on the way out, and then averaged 8.24 for the three miles back, after a ten-minute walk in-between again.
Adapting from Marathon Training
I had been concentrating on distance prior to the Riga Marathon on May 15th. After that I didn’t run for 3 weeks, although I did a lot of walking on my holiday in Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
On Sunday June 5th I did a 35 minutes run, part of my average run, and felt ill for two days afterwards. I recovered on the Wednesday, and went to the Download festival on the Thursday. I did a lot of standing and walking there, but no running!
I resumed my running unexpectedly on Tuesday 14th, after returning from Download the night before, running from the bus to work after nearly being late. I felt fit on the run, and my legs weren’t aching and creaking as they had been at times since the marathon.
I did three of my average park runs, which take 45 minutes, before adding on another ten minutes on June 22nd, to take it up to around 10km distance/time.
A sunny day inspired my first canal run the next day on June 23rd. I realised my 10-minute miles would put me just over an hour for the race, so I started to aim at quickening my pace. Checking my previous times from past years inspired me to think I could do it.
Running Speed Training
After another park run on the 25th the next day I ran around a field in the valley: alternating 5 laps: slow, fast, walk, slow and fast. That was loosely based on training techniques such as the very memorable fartlek. That was followed the day after by a short 15 minutes run including a steep hill. The following day was the June 28th run cited above.
The next day I did the 15-minute run, and the day after the valley alternating laps. The following day I did a 10km full distance, but steady rather than racing; my legs felt tired anyway, and couldn’t have done much faster than the return to 10-minute miles.
Tapering Down for Race Day
That was July 1st, and the last run before the July 4th best pre-race times run cited above. I’d planned to do another steady 10km before the race, but felt tired during the week, with a cough and cold; that was particularly true of Tuesday 5th, when I was exhausted.
So I just did an easy 20-30 minutes couple of laps in the valley on Thursday July 7th, and did a 100 metres dash for a bus on Saturday July 9th.
Race Day Rest and Travel
I adapted my sleeping from the usual 12-1 am start to 11-11.15 for the few days before the race, and thankfully did it okay, and had good sleep. Work kindly allowed me to change my schedule on the Saturday before the race from a 10pm finish to 8pm, allowing me to get to bed early the night before too.
I had a pasta and veg meal and protein shake around 5pm on the Saturday, and a savoury rice snack and shake when I got home at about 9pm. I had a coffee, banana and protein shake after waking at 7.15 to the alarm clock, after once waking before and returning to the land of nod.
I had a shower, and put on the kit I’d arranged the night before. The bus was on time around about 8.20; it’s sight reminding me of my hitch-hiking days, as I sat on the kerb in the sun at the bus stop. I’d decided I was getting the bus whatever; if I was late for the race start I had the micro-chip for my time inside my race number bib anyway.
I got down to Leeds centre feeling good, but needed a #2, which was probably the savoury rice late snack, as I think I’d already exited the pasta meal before showering! I got to the place for my race start about 5-10 minutes before 9.30, and drank an energy drink there.
We walked around the corner, and started jogging before the official start place, where the elite runners had started a few minutes ago, and the chip time starts. As I wrote before, I got into my rhythm immediately, and never felt like tiring, with the race atmosphere enough to gel my training runs of 2 x 3 miles into one, and the thought that this was the last race of the season, and maybe my life, providing additional inspiration for the middle miles. The stamina training from my marathons earlier in the season also probably helped. The approaching city centre race finish was more than enough for the last couple of miles.
My running has, well, for want of a better expression, run parallel with my writing, which is available on Amazon.