Race reflection and 10k running tips
What a bloody epic morning to run.
Winchester, at its worst, is picturesque. Winchester, at its best, on what felt like a spectacular and early Spring day, is just a cracker.
Conditions were absolutely ideal for the biggest 10km event the ancient old city had ever hosted – according to the organiser on the tannoy system – with some 1,500 runners and more on the start line.
Given the race began at 8.30am, it was always going to feel a little chilly first thing – but after a thorough warm-up (taking in the sights of Winchester Cathedral for a few laps) – I soon got a sweat on.
With my focus set on three marathon events in April and May, my mileage over the past few months has had to be heavy – and will continue to be.
I’m working in the 60-75 mile weekly mileage bracket at the moment, so, for this race, I didn’t necessarily run on tired legs but more a pair of legs lacking a bit of zip.
As such, I used this event as a tune-up and practice, with the 10km distance – for me – mimicking, somewhat, the closing stages of a marathon, when you feel tired and have to grind it out.
This was an effort run, dipping into my endurance bank and testing my pace when I didn’t feel fresh.
And, I’m happy with the results.
A 6th place finish in a decent field was satisfying.
The course itself was good fun!
There were lots of up and downs – as the Strava elevation gain image shows below – but also opportunities to build speed on downhills and straight roads.
Throughout, the marshalling was excellent, and in fact, the whole race day experience – from the bag drop to collecting your post-race t-shirt – was spot-on.
The finish line stretch back to River Park Leisure Centre was full of twist and turns but enjoyable as spectators were able to line the footpaths.
How do you strategise a 10k race? Top tips:
- An intensive warm-up is needed so that you are ready to go and not caught cold at the beginning. (Focus on dynamic stretching and free-flowing movements – such as high knees, leg swings and hip mobility).
- For starters, don’t risk going out too quickly. On Sunday, there were a lot of runners that ran really hard over the first kilometre or so, before they had a chance to find much rhythm and indeed a feel for their running. Don’t burn all your fuel at once!
- From my experience, you have to create a small platform to work with in those opening stages and then go about your business from there.
- A 10k race is such a short distance that you shouldn’t necessarily be clock-watching too much – but rather trying to find your natural running feel early on.
- Save a bit in the tank for the final three kilometres – and really go for it.
So, what are the key training requirements to prepare for a 10k race?
- Strength and Conditioning: Regular gym work, inclusive of core and lower-body leg exercises.
- Frequent speed/track sessions: In the build up to a 10k, it’s important you get used to working at a higher heart rate with a series of tempo runs – designed to help your body acclimatise to running quickly.
- *Heart rate training is an in-depth subject but by monitoring beats per minute with your device, you can help train your aerobic system more efficiently – particularly when completing higher-intensity sessions.
Overall Winchester 10k standings
Sunday’s run meant I clocked the 200-mile barrier for the month – and I’m hoping to reach 220 before we move into March.
Happy running all and well done to everyone who competed in the 10k!