10k goal chasing and defining race moments by Kate Heyward

This is what I want to write about. It was one moment in the 10km race at the gold coast. Well, it was probably a series of moments.

I’ve spent the first half of 2014 dissecting and experimenting with the 10km race. Last year I ran a 40.39 and as my half marathon times had plateaued I decided to give the 10k a really good shot as I’d never focused on it before, in the hopes of it improving my half and marathon times eventually as well.

This year I’ve run eight 10km races. They were each an experiment. The first one I practiced ignoring what my coach advised me to do! Then I practiced controlling the first km. I practiced holding the 2nd and 3rd km. One race I focused on the last km. I worked on the 7th and 8th km. I practiced not losing concentration. I practiced focusing on my form, my turnover toward the end.

Sometimes the experiments worked, sometimes they didn’t. But I always learnt something that helped me gain another insight into 10k racing.

In the week leading up to the gold coast I was mentally going over and over how I would handle each km in my head. Even while holding a conversation with someone I would be running the gold coast in my head. How will I feel at this point? What will I do at that point?

When I trained I concentrated on feeling the pain and the emotions that would come up, not denying them or ignoring them, or thinking about something else. Being in the experience. A couple of key moments occurred. For example, once during some intervals I wanted to back off, I wanted to stop, and then I said to myself “this is where you make or break it” and I pushed through and ran even faster to the end. At one time I remember thinking – can I give more? and I realized I was just putting in the minimum right then – so I gave just a bit more. It is this kind of moment that transfers over to race day.

So, it came race day and I was really at that point where you have done all that you can do, but you still are not sure it is going to come together. At this time trust is important, as well as mental strength. Trust in your training, and being too strong for doubts.

My first 5km went like a dream and exactly to plan, and I happen to see the 5k split was 19.28mins on the clock. I am not sure this was a good thing or not as I realized I had 30seconds up my sleeve to get a sub 40min. It sort of unleashed my mind, just a crack, to relax, and my pace started dropping. Then somewhere around 7km I heard it, the voice that starts making excuses.

–       its ok to run 40.XXmin you will still PB, it’s still a good time

–       there’s always another race

–       you just don’t have it in you

–       you are not a 10k runner (see all those small skinny girls? they are 10k runners)

At this point I had a choice, to listen to that voice, or say No to it. I actually heard that voice from a new perspective, from an objective place. And this time I decided that I wasn’t going to listen. I shut it down and said I will not settle for anything less, I will not settle for anything less.

And I didn’t back off. I held it. I focused on my form and my turnover and I broke though that chatter that can hold you back. I was still just holding on for dear life and I did know that I had that 30sec up my sleeve. But I really feel that moment in the race where I decided not to settle was the most powerful thing that training for a sub 40min 10k has given me. I ran 39.35 which was a whole minute off my time in two weeks – I really still cannot believe it. But it happened.

Do not settle. You deserve to achieve what you train for, but both your body and your mind need training. Every time you are pushed mentally in your training, it is practice for race day. Use it, don’t distract yourself from it. Practice owning the moment, owning your run, and how you will answer that voice.

10km racing hurts in a way that no other race does (!), because it is long but still fast, and it’s been a great experience learning how to tackle the distance. The sense of achievement and mental toughness I’ve gained this year has been worth it definitely.

Not my most flattering race finish photo but it reminds me that I left it all out there…

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