Sunday, 19 August 2018

Lifestyle: From Couch To 10km. My First Run In London.

from couch to 10km my first london run

One day in April, I started "running". Well.....I started very slowly to avoid muscle damage and since I have a thyroid condition have to make sure I don't overheat too quickly. I set myself a time target of around 20minutes lightly jogging two rounds in my local park with one lap afterwards walking and then do it all over again for another three turns. I had downloaded an 8-week training schedule from Runners World but only used it for the first week or so. I went running every second evening and found it more of a relaxing activity for me to clear my mind and to get some sort of exercise rather than doing it for building stamina or weight loss.

I managed to stay persistent for exactly one month - which is a major achievement as a Gemini! - then life came in between and it was June when I restarted my running regime.

One day in June, I logged into my Facebook after God-knows-how-many-years-of-absence and I saw an ad by The Fix Events promoting their Richmond Riverside 10km run. I was intrigued because I love the Richmond area and running along the idyllic river sounded good to me. A nice change from the usual monotonous laps I do in the small greenery of my local area. Within the next minute, my enthusiasm and naive optimism signed up for the run. With less than three weeks to go for the event, I exercised precisely twice. T-W-I-C-E.

I'm not proud of my lack of exercise and preparation for the run and yeah, well....I'm pretty lazy when it comes to workouts and gyms and in general athletic sports. I'm more of an ice skater but I know deep down that I need to overcome my inner laziness to take my ice skating to the next level and that demands regular exercise. Anyway, with less than three weeks away, I was pretty relaxed about the run. In the past, I had managed to run for 20minutes consistently and thought no one would mind if I walked in between to regain some energies. I was convinced, that I would somehow manage 10km easily.

One Saturday morning in July, at ridiculous o'clock in the morning I made my way over to Richmond, which is at the complete other end of the city for me. I wanted to be there nice and early to make sure I was properly warmed up and having had a look at the map, the event started at Ham House which was a fair bit away from the train station.

couch to 10km my first london run

I got out of Richmond station and then walked 3km to Ham House which is a beautiful countryside residence in the picturesque surroundings of the English wilderness located by the river Thames - and this part of the river is actually very nice with clean water and lots of wildlife to watch. I had my rucksack packed with fresh clothes, flip-flops, protein bars and plenty of water - all ready to take on the challenge of a 10km run. When I arrived at the start, I was given the lucky number 324. On the event page it said that 400 people had signed up for the event but later on when I checked the end results, it must have been significantly less. The Fix Events team had everything so well organised and before everyone set off to take on the challenge of 10km, the company Swedish Fit did a very active warm-up session with us. I'm definitely not fit for these super fast exercises and I have no coordination whatsoever but it was good fun and we were definitely fully warmed up for the run.

event warm up
warming up before the run

Let's Start: The First 1km. Expectations vs Reality

At 9:25am I got in line with the rest of the participants and we would start in small groups to allow runners ahead a bit of leeway. Eventually, the time had come and for the first 1km, I lightly jogged. It felt forever! To be honest, when I do my training at home and run my laps, it is easier for me to measure the distance. Once I got passed the 1km mark, I thought to myself "OMG what have I signed up for?!?" It literally felt like the longest distance ever but I kept pushing forward and made it to 2.5km in one go without taking a break. 

Tracks I listened to: Ed Sheeran - Shape of You

3-5km: The Sun Burns from the Sky

Running along the river has the advantage that there's a lot of shade so it was very cool to run with an occasional breeze, however, somewhere between the 3rd and 4th km, came an open space and you were in the direct sun. The heat in the morning slowed me down a lot and I saw myself on another short walking break before I had enough energies to keep on running. Towards the 5th km I started to curse myself for not being better prepared, like for example having a water backpack on me or even an armband to fix my phone. Instead, I had the glorious idea to keep my phone in my hoodie pocket which I had to take off because of the heat and which I then had to carry. Not very practical but lesson learnt for the next time. 

Tracks I listened to: Freemasons - Uninvited, Axel Konrad - R.U.F.F. Beat (if you're struggling)

On My Way Back: 5km - 7km

The distance for the run was from Richmond to Kingston and back. The first water stop came at 5km and it was so welcomed. I had at least three cups of water before I felt energised again to tackle the way back to Ham House. It wasn't important to me to be the fastest or to run in a pack, by then I was pretty much the only runner for miles and it felt quite nice because I didn't feel pressured or that I had to compete with others. I literally took my time and ran at my own pace. Energised through the refreshing water and running for a bit in the shade made me manage to run my longest distance in one go of 2.7km before having another walk as a break. At this point, I had a feeling for when the km marks would come up and it felt less dragging compared to the first km. 

Tracks I listened to: Dua Lipa - New Rules, The Other Tribe - Skirts

focused on my running
final km whilst running

Nearly There: 7km - 9km

The course led past the event's venue where another water stop was set up. It was so close and the thought of running further north and then having to come back all the way again made me feel annoyed but at the same time, the water refuel gave me the power to keep going. This part of the 10km run was dragging as the course was flat but sometimes natural meaning you had to watch out for roots, stones and residents walking their cute dogs. It was so hard to not stop and cuddle them all! Because it was so close, I could hear the cheers and announcements from the event for a while which was another motivation to keep going as the 10km were nearly done. 

Tracks I listened to: Paul Van Dyk - Pikes, Paul Van Dyk - We Are Alive

The Finale: 9km - 10km

Oh dear, the final stage was a struggle. Not kidding and it helped that the event finish line was in clear sight from the 9th km ahead so it was motivation enough to keep going. I had no idea where the rest of people were or what time it actually was, all I knew was that I was close and wanted to finish this run. I made it then in one go without a break and received my medal at around 11am.

Tracks I listened to: Paul Van Dyk - Buenaventura

fix event richmond riverside run

So I had done this. A 10km in about 1:31:21 in which trained folks probably run the distance three times, but for me, all that counted was that I got until the end and I didn't finish last! After I had my medal engraved with my achievement, I changed into fresh clothes, my flip flops and then headed to the Breakfast Club for some much-needed pancakes. I couldn't believe that I had actually made it and I proudly wore my medal until I got home. 

So where am I with running now? The run was fun and definitely an experience. It has pushed me out of my laziness and grown my respect for runners who do this on a regular basis. Overall, I've learnt a few things about myself and that it is more mental strength and inner will that can release energies and powers you would have never thought are within you. You can be lazy and untrained but once you've set your mind to reach a specific goal, you can and will go to extreme lengths to reach that goal no matter what. You will become focused and set all your energies towards that goal which is a nice metaphor applicable to many things in life. If you really want something, you can be untrained or lazy AF, but once you've put your mind towards something then there's nothing stopping you. 

On the other hand, I found running a bit....boring. After a while when you no longer pay attention to the scenery around you or you don't notice the tracks you're listening to, you are alone with yourself and your thoughts for self-reflection. I do this kind of personal analysis quite often outside of running so for me there needs to be something else I can do whilst I run...otherwise it feels a bit of wasted time for me...hope that made sense. Unlike ice skating, where your concentration is required at all times to do the exercises correctly and which is mentally stimulating, I found running doesn't offer me that much....or maybe I haven't found the right podcasts yet. I was actually thinking during my run, that Google glasses would be cool to watch a film or so. Anyway, I definitely want to challenge myself again and have signed up for the Adidas 10km in Clapham in mid-September. 

This time I'll be prepared....but I will go on holidays first. 

Thank you so much for reading and till next time. 

Carolin

*All photography in this post are made and provided by The Fix Events.
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