Having just completed my first ever competition and first ever run of 10k on Sunday in London's Victoria Park, I can honestly say it has been such a (at this point I would love to say mind fuck, but I'll go with the word...) challenging journey. From my training, to my diet, to my secret kitchen binges, to my lack of socialness and most of all the complaining of aches and pains, this past couple of months has been madness. 

Firstly, to the positive people who have supported me and my loved ones who have had to deal with my daily antics - THANK YOU! I have been a nightmare to be around but I am so grateful for everyone's help, support and donations.

Being surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable and inspiring people who take their training seriously, I have learnt an awful lot and in fact doing the runs myself I have learnt enough to shed some light on anyone doing or planing to do a similar challenge.

I have read many articles and spoken to so many people about methods and tricks to help you get through but honestly, it is about leaving yourself enough time to trial and play around with what works for you.

So here are a few lessons I learnt along the way:

1. Don't buy new trainers
If you are going to buy new trainers, make sure you take enough time to wear them in to avoid any rubbing of the feet and to ensure the sole of the trainer moulds to the shape of your feet arches. I actually had an old pair of running trainers that I used for running along side my gym floor trainers that I slightly lighter and thinner. My friend then also lent me a fairly new pair of good running trainers. On my runs I tested all three pairs to see how my feet felts after I had run my distance and it was clear that my oldest shoes that had moulded to my feet were the ones that were most comfortable and caused less pain despite them maybe not being the best shoe type for running long distance.

2. Music is the key
If there is one thing that determines the success of your run, it has got to be the music. On every run, I would try a different genre or playlist to see what types of music help the flow and which songs really put a debbie downer on the run. I have now come up with the perfect playlist and order to help me get the best out of my run.

3. Combined Training
For months now I have been doing a half an hour fasted cardio on the treadmill. I did an outdoor run perhaps twice a week for a month up until the run. I was really struggling at this point to compete my distance and to increase my speed. A friend of mine then suggested to use my time on the treadmill to do interval training using the level and speed of my ideal time per KM. For example: 10 km in 50mins would mean 5mins per KM. So on the treadmill, I would aim for 800m in 4:30mins. My rest would then be around 2mins static.

4. 3 runs a week
Great piece of advice given to me was run and run consistently. It is the only way to get better and increase your pace. I set myself 3 runs a week one long run of about 8km. I have run the full 10k and even managed a 12k, but a week before the run that is it no more long runs. my two other weekly runs are made up of one 5k and one 3k with sometimes can be substituted for my intervals. The aim is to manage the distance with the longer runs and increase speed with the shorter runs

5. Night Regime
It can be really hard waking up in the dark and going to sleep in the dark and having a busy weekend. Finding time to fit in my runs has been really tricky with fitting in my Yoga classes and not missing out on my usual training at the gym so I have seem myself going on late night runs, which can be great sometimes as it is more quiet, but equally even harder as it is difficult to see, difficult to motivate yourself after a long day at work and often colder in the evenings. Coming back from a run can leave you feeling actually really ill but sometimes full of energy. One of my worst runs has got to be when it was raining, below 0 degrees and when I had a sore throat and shin splints. AWFUL I know! Coming home, I took some paracetamol, had a hot shower using a light face wash, applied Tiger Balm over my legs and back, used ibuprofen gel on my feet (cause I have those damn bunions), aloe vera around my eyes, lit up an intense stick and made a turmeric and honey tea for my throat. A few spritzes of This Works, Lavender pillow spray later and just lay there like a mommy before falling asleep.  = AWESOME

6. 1 day before the run
Stick to the same diet of good carbs, veg and protein and you can choose to not run at all or do a short 2/3k at a slow pace.

7. Race Day
Finish your breakfast 3 hours before your race and (good) carb up on oats with fruit and remember to hold back on the water and your body will retain this during the race making you need to use the loo and make you bloated of course. It will also dilute the electrolytes and weaken your muscle during your run.

Hope that helps, but if anyone else has any other tips please share!!

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