How not to prepare for a 10k race

Prior to my well organised Spartan double, last month I did the Pudsey 10k.

This was quiet a significant race as:

  • This was the first time that I had done a 10k race since July last year
  • It marked the first time that I have run such a distance since September last year.
  • Not only was I unprepared race fitness wise – I also managed to do everything wrong in my preparations

As a result I achieved a personal worse of 58 minutes.  This is 15 minutes off my personal best – how did I fall so badly?

Strap yourself in, here is  How not to prepare for a 10k…

Weeks of prior Training:

For my pre race training I actually only ran up to 4k.  This was due to various injuries and sickness.  This created a lack of confidence in my ability.

I could have spent more time in the gym on low impact machines such as the cross trainer or the rower to protect my foot.  But my visits were sporadic and when I did go I mostly focused on weights.

Although my strength has always been helpful to power me through races – dedicating time to cardio workout would have made the distance much easier.

1 Week Prior to the race:

Want to know what I did in the week leading up to the race?

beach barcrawl

Not much because I was in Albufeira, Portugal.  My training consisted of sitting rounding the pool, walks on the beach, eating crap all inclusive food and drinking every evening.  Although my fitness was not the best, doing a race a day after I came from holiday was not the best idea!

A sensible person would have decided to leave the race for another time, but I am not a sensible person.

The lifestyle had taken its toll and during the middle of the holiday I had a spell of sickness and the shits.

There was some serious patching up work to be done to make sure I could finish the race.  So I drank a lot of water as soon as I got off the plane.

Man drinking water from huge water bottle
Man drinking water from huge water bottle

Night Before Preparation

I arrived home at midnight.  I have continued to drink a lot of water and knock back another pint before bed.

My adrenaline is still going from the holiday – I don’t settle till 2.  An hour later I have to get up to pee out all the water.

It takes time to settle and when I do I have dreams full of the rae ending in disaster.

I wake up tired and feeling mentally unprepared – I feel I am going to fail.

Setting off

I have two more pints of water, a green tea, porridge and an apple – probably the healthiest I have eaten all week.

I have never driven to Pudsey before, so I rely on the Sat Nav.  I start up the car and put in the race details I quickly printed off.  To make matter worse I am slightly late as I got caught up making a call to my mobile phone company about a discrepancy on my bill.  Right now I just want to pack everything up and go back inside.  But I don’t quit.

I am not even 100 metres down the road when my car pings to me that it needs petrol – I vaguely remember that I noticed it was low before I went on holiday but decided to worry about that when I got back.

Due to lack of time I decide to risk going straight to the race venue and then fill up afterwards.

At the race

I under estimate the popularity of the race.  The car park I set my Sat Nav to is full.  So I drive round looking for an alternative.  I find a pay and display, open my wallet and realise I only have holiday currency.  I don’t want to keep driving round using up my petrol so I park down a random side street.

I am a mile from registration.  I jog gently, quickly I am out of breath.  All I am carrying now is my car keys, a small bottle of water and an energy gel.

I am not even dressed appropriately – I am wearing a vest and have on some baggy holiday shorts.

I register and am told that the start of the race is by the memorial statue in the town centre.  I have no idea where it is, so decide to follow some other runners.  It turned out they didn’t know where they were going either.

We stumble about and eventually find it.  The race starts in 5 minutes so I swallow the energy gel and wash it down with water.  It is only after doing this I realise the gel is 6 months out of date!

The race

The race was hard – this was partly due to my lack of preparation and the number of hills.  This made it the longest 10k I had ever done, the 5k mark felt like it should have been nearer the end, but I realised this was because I was running slower than last year.

But I didn’t die – my finishing time was disappointing, but it felt like a miracle I even managed to finish.  I  saw the positive – I had hit rock bottom, so the only way was up.

Post Race – because it isn’t over yet!

I left the finishing area tired and cold.  I headed back to my car and realised how similar all the roads looked.

I walked about a mile down one road before realising that none of the key landmarks looked familiar – so I figured it must be another road.

I came to a dead end, so I started to panic – I had forgotten where I parked my car!  Just like the guy who lost his car at the Manchester Half Marathon – I had done the same!

I decided to retrace my steps and went down another road – I walked past one of the race marshals who looked familiar, he smiled – I couldn’t decide if I had seen him when I parked up or when I ran round the course.  I continued to walk down the road.

I soon realised it was not right because I could see the flats on the boarders of Leeds City Centre.

My plan was to talk to the friendly marshal and explain my problem.  But I had spent so much time looking for my car, that everyone had packed up and gone home!  I had no phone, no money, no jumper or even my house keys – I had to find my car!

I was really panicking now.  I decided to put on my race finisher shirt to help keep warm as I continued to look around.

I followed the final stretch towards the finish line and I caught sight of my car – I was so relived that I kissed it.  I started the engine and the hum of the engine sounded light.  I thought that the next tragedy would be my car running out of petrol, but fortunately that was not the case.

I estimate that I must have ran/jogged/walked another 6km.  I didn’t feel too bad either  – I realised I was much fitter than I thought.

So learn from my mistakes and prepare properly for your race!

Till next time – James

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