If you follow me on Instagram you’ll already know that I took part in the Great Manchester Run 10k 2019, as I’ve been grumbling about training and blisters on my stories for months. I don’t know what I’m going to moan about now that I’ve done it (probably my mental health, as per)! I signed up back in October 2018 I hadn’t even managed to run 5k, so I was being pretty optimistic. I had just decided to start Couch to 5k to improve my fitness, and I knew that without an end goal I would probably give up pretty quickly.
Turns out I know myself pretty well, as I did indeed give up before Christmas and long before reaching 5k. The 10k was months away, surely it didn’t matter if I didn’t train in December? After all I was buying a flat, and it was Christmas, I could just start again in January. Then of course, it was bloody cold in January, and we were still settling in. I did a few runs around the park, but it was cold, and the run was in May, so I had ages – so what if I could only run 3km?
If I look at my Pacer app which I use to track my runs, in January I only ran about 15km in total and February was around the same. Then we reached March, and I received an email reminding me that my run was only 11 weeks away. At that point I hadn’t even managed to run 5km, so naturally I flew into a panic. In March I ran a total of 37km, and finally reached 5km, then 6km. April was much the same, running around 40km and reaching 7km in one run. In May, I properly began to panic, as the run was on the 19th, only three weeks away. I managed my first 10km a week before the race, and ran a total of 50km before the race itself. Needless to say, I was pretty knackered and probably over trained, so I took the four days leading up to the run off.
Sunday the 19th of May was race day. I was in the very last and slowest wave, and I was one of the last to actually cross the starting line as we were a bit late heading into town. My Mum and Nan were stationed not far from my flat around the 4km mark and my boyfriend was waiting at the finish line. It was 18 degrees, and therefore way too hot for me, and I had 10km in front of me.
It was honestly one of the hardest things I had ever done, and yet also not nearly as hard as I expected. Over the course of my training, I had learnt that my greatest weakness wasn’t my body, but my mind. My negativity and the little voice in my head that tells me I’m fat, useless and should just give up really shouts when I’m running. But I had done it before, and I knew I could do it. 10km was achievable, and that was what I kept telling myself. If my body could do it, why was my mind convinced it couldn’t? While training I had learnt how to tell when I actually needed to stop and when it was just my mind trying to convince me to. I’ve gained an awareness of my muscles that I haven’t previously had, and an understanding of my limits. I can now tell the voice to shut up, because honestly my legs feel fine, I’m not that out of breath and I’ve done it all before.
The one thing I didn’t count on was HILLS. The park I train in is mercifully very flat, and it turns out that the 10km course wasn’t. The long, slow slope back into town after circling around Old Trafford was hell. The only thing keeping me going at that point was counting down the kilometres, and the determination to not walk. I didn’t go into the race hoping to beat my previous 10km time, I went in just planning to not stop and not walk. I wanted to run (or jog, let’s be realistic) the whole thing, and that’s exactly what I did. The moment I saw my Mum and Nan was a real boost and seeing my Mum jump about three feet in the air was hilarious, particularly since I learned later she didn’t even realise she was doing it. Spotting my boyfriend about just before the finish line came into sight was a real joy. The photo above is the exact moment that I spotted him, and you can tell from my face just how exhausted I was but how delighted I was to see him. It was all I needed to speed up and properly run that last bit of the race. I finished in 1:18:15, which I’m happy with. Despite swearing that I’d never run again, and even a week later I’m still nursing some serious blisters from training a little too hard and not giving them time to heal, I kind of want to do it again.