Bridge to 10K
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A cautionary tale

I just thought I'd share this, as I feel very foolish right now. As I've told everybody on any occasion I can, last Sunday (11th Oct) I ran the Oxford Half, one of the best things I've ever done. I diligently followed a 16 week training plan, and arrived in the starting pens about as well prepared as I could have been. One of the factors that really made a difference was the build up of distance in the month to six weeks before the race. Previously, I'd got to the position where 10k wasn't a difficult distance to complete, and on occasion, I'd stretched a run as far as 13 or 14km. Going that bit further was a challenge, and introduced the necessity to consider nutrition and fuelling in conjunction with the run. The first time I ran a little past 14k I experienced the bonk/wall - I just suddenly ran out of energy.

I managed to move on to ten mile runs, fine tuned my in-flight refuelling techniques, and managed to reasonably confortably do 16, 17, and an 18.5km run, at the end of which I knew I could have run on to the HM distance.

I tapered in the last week, and I was pleasantly surprised on race day to be able to set off at a faster pace than I expected to (the first 5k was a shade under 30 minutes, and 10k was 60:02) and apart from tiring a little in the second half, didn't have any problem completing the race strongly.

Then, apart from accepting the need for a bit of a rest, I ignored the "reverse taper" - I took 3 rest days, then went for a 7k run on the Thursday morning. Later that day I found that I was able to go for a first club run with the local running club (I'd planned this, but expected it would have to be the next week). That turned out to be another 7.5K run, including a hill. I rested Friday, then did Parkrun on Saturday. At this point I was feeling fine. Parkrun was my second fastest.

Then my cocky, bravado filled head got the better of me. I'd run a HM. I'd conquered 10 mile runs. Sundays were going to become a regular long run day. I know, I'll go for a ten miler!

I ate fairly lightly on Saturday. As a last minute afterthought on Sunday morning, I had a banana for breakfast. I'd planned to take on energy during the run so had my shotbloks with me.

Off I went. Nice. Running comfortably, watching the k's go by. 10k, ok, just 6 to go. Taking it easy, running at a moderate pace, 7-7:30/k. Then, at about 14k, *BONK*. This is hard work. I suddenly felt really tired. Stubbornly, though, I pressed on. I'd gone out on a 16k run, and I don't give up easily. I did run on, and did complete the run. I was tired, though, more than at the end of the HM.

I recovered a little over the next couple of hours, though it caught up with me again, and by the evening, I was just about out on my feet. Today (Monday) I still feel really tired.

It's easy to get carried away and think we've got this running lark cracked - we can run where, when and how we want, and it's just easy and fun.

I've learned a lesson, though. I need to think clearly and plan properly. I'm not superhuman, and while I'm loving my running and want to do it as much as I can, I must not overstretch. Recovery and rest is important, as is carefully eating properly for those longer runs.

Happy running, people, but do it sensibly!

11 Replies

great post and its so easy to think we are invincible...I used to wonder why I always felt emotionally drained and ravenous on a Monday at work, then it twigged that I did my long run on a Sunday building up to 23 miles and that had an impact on me big time!!!


Great post, Steve! I completely agree with you that it's so easy to forget we just put our bodies through a lot of physical stress! I am finding it hard as well to find the balance between the energy and pride you feel from completing a long race and giving your body enough time to cope. I feel pretty tired still from the OH (which, congratulations on your amazing time!!) but I want to get back out there and run.

I also followed a training programme, but last week it only had me run one 5k the whole week and I felt like that was not enough. I added in 2 more 5ks throughout the week to get my legs moving.. I wonder if anyone knows on a good regime for recovery after a long race?

Really insightful post, though :) completely echoes how I'm feeling!


Thanks, Sadie, and congratulations on your properly amazing time! And of course with your fundraising efforts.


Better, I think. Just looking at the rain outside and considering a run.


You were doing 5 runs a week as well in the run up to the HM - that is quite a lot of work on your feet! Might that be a factor too?


I really don't know what the exact cause was. I prepared well for the HM, did a decent time and felt fine afterwards. Last Thursday when I ran 7k+ twice in a day, I felt fine. I ran my second fastest Parkrun on Saturday, and when I started the run on Sunday it all felt ok. I emptied my tank, and I don't know if that was a cumulative effect or not.

I rested two days, and needed to. I had a gentle 5K run this morning, which felt hard, but doesn't seem to have had any untoward effects.


Just one of those things perhaps. You're making great progress all things considered!


That's why it was so frustrating!


Maybe it's the release off all the pre-race training and tension or whatever...a few days off, and some shorter runs will get you back on track xx




A very good tale to us all but i have another.... i just stopped dead and now I panic!!! I don't recommend this to anyone either!!!


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