You have mastered running 5k and now you feel you are ready to step up to your next challenge. It might be that you have completed your 5k program and felt so good about yourself that you want to challenge yourself further. Or it might be that you have been losing weight through your 5k program but have hit a plateau and need to push yourself harder to continue towards your target weight.
From weight loss to social reasons, people have started training to run a 10k and are now discovering that they can do things they never thought they would be able to.
But it is not always easy. Making the step from 5k to 10k is a big one and no-one should underestimate the challenge you are facing. Just as the first steps from being a classic couch potato to running 5k was daunting, so too is pushing yourself to run double the distance.
First of all you must deal with time constraints. Running 10k means a commitment to running for longer in your weekly sessions. If you were running for 30-40 minutes in your C25k program, then you can reckon on running for 60-90 minutes for your 10k program. You need to plan your training program around work, family and social commitments. It might mean that something else has to give. If you are a person who likes to stay in bed on a weekend morning, you might find that on a Saturday or a Sunday you need to get up an hour earlier to fit a run in. Painful as that may sound, actually it is a great thing – you start your day with a real sense of achievement and, despite your exertions, you will find you have higher levels of energy throughout the day!
You might also need to be flexible with your commitments during the week. Can you run during your lunchtime one day a week and then maybe work a little later to compensate for that time? Can you do without the social gathering after work so you can hit the treadmill. It is a little sacrifice to make for the benefits you are going to feel.
When you make these sacrifices, you may find that some of your colleagues or friends are sceptical and don’t understand why you would rather run than go for a drink. These people can be divided into two categories: they either don’t understand and will make no effort to do so; or they are secretly envious and wish they could have your willpower. You will never change the minds of the first group but you might just prove an inspiration for the second group.
There are some important factors to remember if you are to experience success in your 10k program. Don’t go crazy and expect to run at the same pace as you run your 5k. Start easy and build up slowly. Your first few sessions might be combinations of walking and running. If you have managed to get to a point where you can run the whole of your 5k, this might be difficult to accept, but you are now increasing your mileage and this needs to be a steady process. If you push too hard, too early, then illness and injury will plague you and could be real demotivators.
Make sure you adjust your nutrition plan. If you have been on a calorie controlled diet while following a 5k program, you will want to increase your calorific allowance to match your needs now you are running further. You can still work on the basis of expending more calories than you eat, but you will need to compensate as you are burning double the amount whenever you run.
Be prepared for days when you just don’t feel like doing it! Often the biggest challenge to any runner is getting out of the door. It’s raining, its cold, you’re tired. The reasons can stack up and conspire to stop you leaving the house. The weapon you have at your disposal is memory. Remember how good you feel when you are out in the fresh air, or the immense sense of achievement when you have completed a week of activity. If there is a valid reason; you feel ill or you have had to work late, then don’t despair, if you miss a day it is not the end of the world, there is always tomorrow.
And be proud of what you are doing. You will already have seen the benefits that C25k has had: weight loss, a toned body, better health generally, higher energy levels, self-confidence and a happier perspective on life; now you can look forward to increasing all of those benefits by reaching for the next target with couch to 10k.