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Beginner’s guide to preparing for the Bristol 10k

With just eight weeks to go before the big day on May 20, here are their top tips on getting ready for the Bristol 10k

Bristol running

If you’ve got a supportive pair of shoes, socks that mould to your feet and a structured, progressive training programme, then you’re well on your way to running a comfortable 10k without discomfort, injuries or blisters according to the running experts at MOTI, a running and triathlon store in Clifton, Bristol.

With just eight weeks to go before the big day on May 20, here are their top tips on getting ready for the Bristol 10k.

Get the right shoes for your running style

“There are a whole host of feet, knee, hip and ankle problems that can be attributed to the wrong type of trainer,” says Martin Klijn, an ultra marathon runner and a team member at MOTI.

“Each time your foot strikes the ground you are putting four to six times your own body weight through each foot. You’re doing this over and over again, 65 to 70 times a minute, so a pair of supportive trainers is crucial to help minimise the shock on your joints.

“We’ll get you on the treadmill in a neutral pair of shoes to see how you’re running and what type of shoe you’ll need when you’re out on the street. We’ll also look for any weaknesses that could be causing you problems. We’ll look at your foot shape, structure and flexibility and we’ll also look at the strength and stability through your ankle, knee, pelvis region and up into the core.

“Once we find out whether you are neutral or need support, we’ll pick the right type of shoe, then you can try a few variations on just to get the right fit and feel.”

Invest in good socks

If you get the shoes and socks right, you shouldn’t need to do anything else – such as apply talc or Vaseline – to prevent blisters, according to Klijn.

“A good pair of running socks should mould nicely around the foot so they don’t move around and cause friction against the skin when you run. Hot moist feet are prone to developing blisters so you’ll need a synthetic blend of man-made fibres that wick sweat away. Good socks should not only be the right size but should be durable and should differentiate between left and right.”

Beat the bounce

The next most important bit of kit for women is a good sports bra, according to Nina Killick, a level 2 triathlon coach that leads run groups at MOTI.

“Don’t just buy the size you’re already wearing. Get measured properly because over 90% of women are in the wrong size anyway. Breasts move in a figure of eight as you run and pulls all the tissue as it does so. It can make you very sore under the armpits and puts great strain on the breast’s fragile support structure,” she says.

While avoiding sagging breasts and soreness are the main reasons for investing in a good sports bra, says Killick, another is to avoid giving fellow runners a black eye!

Ditch the water bottle

If you’ve had a good drink beforehand, you’re OK without water for up to an hour, says Klijn, but if you’re running any longer, take water with you.

“If you’re carrying a litre of water, that’s a kilo of extra weight on one side of your body which throws your running gait out slightly,” he says. “It’s preferable to take something that helps you spread the load evenly across the body, such as a waist belt or back pack.”

Keep expectations realistic

“If you’re a novice runner that’s starting to panic because there’s only eight weeks to go, you should stay realistic, concentrate on getting around comfortably and work on a walk/run type programme that doesn’t overstress your body,” says Killick.

Walking is a great way to strengthen the muscles and prepare the knees and ankles to take the strain of running.

“If you’re a beginner, you can sometimes complete a longer distance race quicker and more comfortably doing a walk/run rather than trying to slog it around. You’ll just beat yourself up if you set a time that you can’t accomplish. Aim to have a good time, get around comfortably and have a benchmark for next time,” she says.

Include a ‘long run’ in your training

“Long runs are vital for building your stamina and endurance base,” says Killick. “Many physiological changes occur during long runs over time that will make it easier to ‘go long’.”

It’s vital that you increase your distance (or time) gradually – by no more than 10% a week. It’s tempting to aim for bigger jumps in distance, but your muscles and tendons adapt to greater distances at a much more gradual pace than your heart and lungs. So even if you feel capable of increasing your distance by more than 10%, it’s best not to if you want to avoid injury.

“Take long runs at an easy pace where you can easily converse with your running partner,” says Killick. “If you need to take a walk break, limit it to one minute.”

Play with your speed

If you’ve already been running for at least six to eight months but want to add interest and variation to your normal routine, start playing with your speed.

“If you run twice a week, the first should be a long steady where you build up slowly to cover the distance of the race and the second run could be a shorter run that includes a mix of strength and speed work,” says Klijn.

The easiest way to start is with some fartlek (Swedish for ‘speedplay’). Decide how much time you have, say, 45 minutes, and play with your speed. Run, jog and walk. Change your speed at will with no pre-set plan. Sprint up a hill, walk for a minute, jog slowly for two minutes, run for half a minute. Do whatever takes your fancy and use trees and benches as marking points.

Vary your terrain

“It’s important to vary the terrain, because softer surfaces are kinder to your joints,” says Killick.

“Tarmac doesn’t absorb your foot strike as much as running on gentler alternatives such as Leigh Woods or Ashton Court, so take some of your runs off road. All those tiny movements your legs and feet make on rougher terrain help strengthen the feet and the ankles.

“However, the Bristol 10k is mostly on Tarmac which means you’ll still need to do a good proportion of your training on Tarmac too.”

Rest and recover

“Rest is critical,” says Killick. “Aim to take at least two full days off during the week. This helps prevent injury and allows the muscles to repair and grow.”

Resting is not only important between runs, but it’s also a good idea to have a lighter week every three to four weeks. For example, in Killick’s training plan below, Week 4 is a lighter week to allow for additional rest and time for muscles to adapt, while Week 8 tapers as you get closer to race day.

Follow a plan

Nina Killick has devised a Beginner’s Eight Week 10k Race Training plan especially for Bristol 24-7 – click the link below for the PDF version. Remember, the goal is to complete the 10k comfortably even if it means taking a walk break. If you have an injury or any medical condition, please consult your GP before starting this or any exercise program.

Beginner’s guide to preparing for the 10k

For more information about the Bristol10k, click here for the Run Bristol website…

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