10 Things I Learned While Training for a 10km

This Sunday I will be running the Sporting Life 10km race in benefit of Camp OOCH for children living with cancer.  It is my first race and I only had a few months to prepare for this daunting feat. Here are 10 things I learned while training:

1. Don't try to be the best
If you know you're not in the running (pun intended) for first place then pace yourself diligently and you'll have a more enjoyable run. Your best is what you can do right now: you body differs from day to day and route-to-route. No run is ever the same and whatever you've got right then and there is what you have to work with. Especially as a female my body changes from week to week throughout the month. My iron levels may be low on a run which will slow me down. Take that into account before you beat yourself up over a slower run.

2. What's your run?
I run better with winding streets and steep hills than on a track. I learned that through varying my running locations and trying new routes. When I received a gait assessment from my personal trainer by running on a track for 10km I hated it and it was the worst 10km time that I ran. The lack of variation on the track made me feel like I was back at the gym on a treadmill for 60+ minutes. Not fun.

3. You run what you eat
Growing up in a Canadian-Caribbean household definitely cultivated and nourished my love for eating. However my eating habits were getting excessive and that was affecting my mood and my body. While training for this race while I did eat processed foods if out with friends, I tended to avoid junk-food otherwise. I usually have a vegan protein dense breakfast every morning of low-sugar granola, drown in almond milk and topped with a banana, a sprinkle of raspberries and a dollop of unsweetened peanut butter. I try to eat 90 minutes before I run and restore my electrolytes with a glass of chilled coconut water after I'm finished. My trainer has recommended that I carb load before I hit the race so I've been downing some spuds lately.

4. Track your runs
I use the Jabra Sport Pulse Bluetooth earbuds and App. I reviewed them recently for Tech Analyzer but only recently got use out of them when training for this race. Synched to my phone the earbuds monitor my location, running pace, timing, incline, decline, heart rate etc. This is valuable information affects your run but you're too involved in running to keep track of yourself. You're able to review what spots were harder, where your longest time for a km was and why. Pair  this with getting a personal trainer if you have access to one or doing research by reading as many articles by health professionals on running. This knowledge will boost your runs beyond what you think is possible.

5. What you wear changes how you'll run
Everything I wear when on a run serves a purpose from my headband to my favourite running jacket. My usual go-to running leggings got a bit too loose as I was training. They did not absorb my sweat and I started to chafe which is not fun. New Balance is sponsoring me for this race an their Accelerate Printed Capri in pink and black is now a running staple for me. They fit taught against my skin and the drawstring is a must for pear shaped runners like me (my hips are wider than my waist so it's hard to find pants that will stay up). The Ice Short Sleeve running shirt I will also be rocking is perfect for the warm May weather. The cooling technology will keep my sweat at bay and the Bright Cherry colour is sure to turn some heads. Finally the shoes: I'm obsessed with the Fresh Foam Zantes. I own two pairs. My shoes plushly support the heel and feel light on the toe with every step. They're quite snug for a close fit on race-day and I can't wait.

6. What gets you pumped paced?
What do you listen to that gets your head nodding along to the beat? I create a playlist that is filled with drawn out songs I can pace myself to for a majority of my run instead of blasting faster songs that get me running beyond my comfortable timing. I love movie scores especially by John Williams and old classical songs that I used to play when I was a violinist. As well songs that give me chills and a sense of euphoria and are a little sad...ones that end with a mass choir belting out the chorus (cue cry-running here).

7. Celebrate #LegDay
Squat. Lunge. Lift. You need it. You can't just run to run. You've got to train muscles that running doesn't to pick up speed. Your body needs to be challenged and put to the test so you can come out on top on race day. I got better at running when I attended spin classes and started taking the stairs everywhere (sometimes two at a time simulating a lunge) instead of the escalator.

8. Schedule your runs and workouts
Discipline is not my strong suit. I there are many things I could have and really should have done while training for this race that I skipped. Runs I should have gone on. Leg day. Yoga. That's because I didn't keep a schedule. If I had I would have shaved my time per km down and I wouldn't feel as tempted to overtrain. Overtraining is a killer: it revs you up to race day but really slows and pulls you down. If you train efficiently and effectively your runs will be optimized to the fullest!

Day 9 Day Off: I spent my Day Off getting ready for tomorrow's @sportinglifecan 10km race. A brisk walk, putting a playlist together and writing a blog post reflecting on training {link in profile} got me revved for tomorrow! 🏃#30wtbd

A photo posted by Elaisha (@elaishajade) on May 9, 2015 at 7:17pm PDT

9. Join the community
People love running. It's like a religion for some. The Sporting Life 10km is one of the biggest runs in Toronto and runners across the province flock to Toronto for it. I've been inspired countless times by runners and fitness fanatics on my Instagram feed when reading their inspiring stories or watching their regime. Check out other runners on Instagram by looking at run or fitness related hashtags. Hashtag your runs so other people can find you. Comment on pictures and start a conversation. Join the community.

10. Love to run
I have grown to love the cadence of my steps and the incomparable feeling of success when hitting a goal. I remember feeling like the overweight 8 year old me the first time I went out for a run. My lungs burned and I felt so fatigued and admittedly defeated. I've run off and on for a few years and never set running goals for fear of failure. But now I'm ready to fly.

*Products used in this post were provided free of charge, all opinions are my own.