How did this 50+ jogger find the experience of taking part in a mass run?
About 3 years ago I signed up for a popular local 10km run. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. For most of my life, I'd never even thought to take part in mass running races.
It had such an impact on me, that I wrote my first ever post for a running blog and really it's what got me going on this blog. Here's that piece I wrote back in 2016.
“.....So here are 5 things I have learned which everyone who has ever run an event before me already knows:
This is nothing like school PE lessons
Nothing could be further from my school PE lessons (other school PE lesson experiences are - hopefully - available). I nearly cried when I crossed the starting line, 40 years after my previous utterly, utterly miserable attempts at running during a few cross country sessions with unsympathetic, impatient PE teachers. It was an out-of-body experience for the first few steps.
10 km is my distance
10km turned out to be a brilliant distance for a first race. 5km would have been too short - I was nearly 4km in before I knew it (Disclaimer: no parkruns anywhere near here).
The training fitted easily around the household (second disclaimer: no young children) without affecting other commitments or dietary arrangements. I realise I was very, very lucky in that I did not fall ill or get injured but at this distance I could have worked around a short break.
I am unashamedly dependent on modern technology. It is the key to me getting started in the first place (C25K app). Sometimes it is still the only thing that gets me out of the door and it always contributes to my running experience in some way or other.
During C25K, I committed to doing what the app told me, so I was not focussing on when to stop but on how to keep going. I didn't have to make any judgement calls or remember or calculate anything. People running with earphones might look like a sign of the antisocial times in which we live, but without those earphones they might very well be indoors watching telly and not out and about training - possibly for a very sociable running event. My sportswatch has already paid itself back and it was well worth RTFM and some practice for the intervals function.
That said, the watch was more hindrance than help at the start of the race! I was misreading the kph speed as mins/km pace, which had me wondering why I was going so slowly. I stopped looking at it. When I saw the 70 min pacemaker in front of me (I thought I was still behind the 80 min pacemaker), I twigged and just went with my gut feeling for the rest of the way.
Thanks to anyone who has ever done this, in any race, at whatever pace. Same goes, in fact, for all the volunteers. Seriously, thank you.
Pacing is really, really hard
The difference between not overdoing it during training and finding a good challenge for the race was a black hole without any comparison points. I thought I would be lucky to run 80 mins (based on the fact that my best 5km solo run was only just under 35 mins) so that is the pace I used to judge my training runs. In fact I ran under 67 mins. I had not realised how much difference running with so many others, all with their own challenges and goals, makes. That and mistaking speed for pace.
Few more of these, then on to the half marathon, illness and injury permitting.”
The half marathon was another story, but I always look back on this 10 km with great fondness. I'm so pleased that my experiences at school no longer define my feelings about running. Those pesky PE teachers have lost their hold over me.