5k race review and request for some motivation!

I thought I would write a bit of a re-cap of my first 5k - which might be useful for anyone who is considering running one for the first time...

Well, I was lucky in that the race was in my hometown - so there was no need to stress about travel arrangements, or worry about having to get up early etc. I did sort some things out in advance, as per advice I'd seen on other forums. I decided about a week ago what I was going to wear and planned to stick with it, regardless of the weather (in the end, the t-shirt and leggings combo was fine). I went to pick up my number from the centre the day before so I had it all ready and I double-checked the start time of the race and where I was meant to be so I had a plan of how long it would take me to get there. All of these things meant that I was not stressed in the morning and the anxieties I felt were ones that had no real grounds.

In terms of physical preparation - I did my last run (W9R1) on the Thursday - but I went on a long walk on the Friday - so it wasn't like I was completely sedentary prior to the run - I think next time I might consider leaving just one day's gap before the race so I feel more in the zone. I ate as normal - just made sure I drank lots of water the day before and no alcohol. I had some pasta for supper, but nothing excessive portion-wise, and I had my usual muesli and yogurt breakfast about two-and-a-half hours before the race started. In the morning I drank some water but I probably didn't drink enough considering how much warmer it is here. I had a fear of needing to use one of the race portaloos on my way around - in retrospect, more water and being less fearful of the portaloos would be a good thing!

The race itself: we lined up with everyone else and I did some gentle stretching. I was worried about not getting my "brisk walk" in directly before the start - but I think the bit of stretching helped. I got increasingly nervous - I'm hoping that next time I won't feel so on edge beforehand! When the start signal went off everyone moved at once and for a while it was difficult enough to find space to comfortably run without jostling - it thinned out fairly quickly, however. Looking back, I think I made my first big error in the first five minutes of the race - it is easy to get carried along with the pace of the crowd and I definitely ran too quickly initially. I had hoped to speed up as I went around, as it was I was bottoming out by the last 1km. Weirdly I got a slight stitch twice during the race - something that had never happened to me before - probably nerves. I ran it off, but it was disconcerting. There was a point where the race swung past an area I run in regularly - but instead of this being motivating I found I got demoralised because I was so familiar with how long it usually took me to run the stretch - perhaps an instance where running a familiar course might play against you. I felt a bit dehydrated as I went along - it was much warmer than I had bargained for - and my throat kept getting gunged up meaning I had to spit a few times (disgusting and something I never do!). More water the next time! By the way - there were lots of disgusting things happening around me - people fell, vomited - this is not a pretty sport. By the last 1.5km I was struggling - but didn't give into the temptation to walk, but just slowed the pace slightly. With 1km to go I saw some friends who had come out to cheer me and that gave me the boost I needed for the final stretch. I can't pretend that I made the last few 100 metres easily - it required real effort and it was very difficult to try to quell the voices in my head saying "you're not going to be able to finish this". It was as much a mental battle as a physical one.

Crossing the finish line was a moment of exhaustion rather than elation - but about half an hour later I was delighted with myself, my medal, the atmosphere of the day, the achievement. I think I learned some important lessons about the difference of running a race vs running on your own.

Tonight I'm supposed to be running W9R3 - my graduation run. But, weirdly considering the weekend's achievement - I'm quite demotivated. That race was my goal for so long and I feel a bit like the end of the programme and the achievement of the goal has deflated my motivation completely. I hope I will go out this evening and have a good run and feel like I want to continue. My long-term goal is to run a 10k in September - and I know I will have to keep up my current performance as well as building on it to achieve that. But it's hard to feel in the mood for it, especially now that the runs are getting longer. Sorry to end the (overly long) post on a down note - but this is how I feel! Hopefully this will be wiped by a cheery graduation post later!

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  • I think you've done extremely well to complete a 5k run beefore you've even graduated.

    Really good.

    As for demotivation I can absolutely understand that.

    I felt brilliant when i graduated and got to my first 5k, and then because I had no goal and no programme to follow, felt as flat as a pancake!

    BUT.... enjoy what you have achieved so far! AND....write yourself a programme to follow for a couple of weeks to give you a bit of ooomph!

    I've been doing this:

    Run 1 : 5k (don't worry about the time)

    Run 2 : 5k (using the week one podcast.. jog when she says walk and run faster when she says run and then jog to end of 5k

    Run 3 : Add 0.5k every week ( so 5k, 5.5k, 6k, 6.5K)

    Hope that helps.

    It's really worked for me .last week's "long" run was 8k!

    Hope that helps.

    Other graduates do loads of different training schedules.

    But keep going, and don't forget to polish your medal!!!! :):):):)

  • this is a very good training tip as I keep thinking about how I can improve my speed so I can move on to a 10k next!

  • Demotivated? I find your post motivating!!!!! Far braver than me!

  • I am really pleased you posted this. It's great to know exactly how and what goes through someones mind. I think it's great you have done this before graduating.

    I plan on running a park run once I have graduated and now I feel that I know a bit more of what it will be like.

  • I think you're demotivated because the race was such a big thing you were heading towards. Well you achieved your goal and should be proud :) Now you need to decide what type of goal is your next to be? You also need to remember you once found running enjoyable and need to get back to that place. Go do some runs which are purely for fun, with no time limits or boundaries, let your body decide how far to go. Motivation comes from enjoyment so go enjoy ;)

  • I'm also glad you spoke in detail about the race. I have never attempted a race, but have signed up for a 10k in June and a half marathon in September and I'm already nervous!

    Well done with your medal, and come on, get out there...you need a badge to finish it off!!

  • Thanks for all your support - check out my just-posted graduation blog! I'll admit to you guys (and no one else) that when I came home from my run this evening I might just have put my medal on again for a few minutes and arm-pumped! Woohoo!

  • Well done you! I think you have done brilliantly! I am about to do my first race today - the race for life and have so far only ever ran with my dog so its going to be a very new experience. I managed to do the 5k run a few weeks ago after week 6 but then I was ill for a week with a stomach bug and have struggled to get back to where I was before. Its great to get a real perspective on what goes on so I know what to expect when I get there today, although as its the race for life and not a proper run it has taken the pressure off although I'm worried I will get all emotional and worried about the whole toilet situation as just read that there will be 1 toilet for every 120 people and I get a bad tummy when I get nervous! But I just keep thinking - I have done it before - I have training really hard and I can do it!

    I agree with the other comments about now you have made you goal you need to think of a new one to keep you going.

    Also I loved the bit where you put your medal on again as well done! You deserve it!

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