How to Train From a 5k to 10k for Beginners

Hello ello ello,

Today’s post will be continuing on from last week’s post which was advice for beginner’s running a 5k (check it out if you haven’t already) and will be on transitioning from a 5k to 10k, as if I haven’t mentioned it already- I RAN A 10K. Woop woop!

If you’ve smashed that 5k, have now got the running bug and are now looking at the 10k as your next goal, then you’ve come to the right place because I have ALL the words of wisdom. (Although please remember it will be words of wisdom at an unprofessional level.) This post will focus more on the training aspect of the 10k, however I may do an advice post on actually running the 10k, so stay tuned!

A little back story to my 10k and the fitness level I was at before I began training: When I broke up from university in the middle of June, I set myself the goal of running the Bridgewater 10k at the start of September which left me roughly two and a half months to train. Whilst I was at university I went to the gym 3/4 times a week, definitely less in the last term of uni, but I could still run a solid 5k at the beginning of summer. However, the first 6 weeks of my summer were really busy and really didn’t train at all and I only went on four runs in that whole 6 week period. The last two of those 6 weeks were spent on holiday in Europe and I was worried I would come back and barely be able run a 5k as I had spent those two weeks eating cake like there was no tomorrow. However, because we did so much walking on that holiday (15,0000-30,000 steps a day!) it turned out that I built up some fab leg muscle which was a lovely surprise when I went on that first run back at home! In those four following weeks that I then dedicated to training, this is what I learn’t:

  • Start with a confident 5k: Physically, it’s not that hard to go from a strong 5k to a 10k. I found that once I could run a 5k at a steady pace, then breathing wise it wasn’t hard to increase the distance to 10k. The leap for me physically was building the leg muscle to carry me for 10k. This again, wasn’t difficult. I did two leg strength training workouts throughout the whole month as I preferred to just slowly build up muscle by running a lot which wasn’t hard as I could already run 5k. If you’re completely new to running, train for a 5k and then move on to lengthening the distance for a 10k, if you can run 5k then that’s a really good starting point!
  • Increasing your mental strength: This was one of the things that I found hardest (and I think most people do too!) about running long distances and I used to wonder alot about how I would ever break the 5k seal. Previously, if I was out on a run and would begin to feel tired or bored, my mind would focus on how tired and bored I felt. That’s why I felt like I would never be able to stretch my mind to deal with that tiredness for longer distances. However I soon learn’t that the issue was I was focussing too much on the end of a run when I should have been focussing on my actual running. This made tiredness so much worse when I was just waiting for a run to end. To increase my mental distance I had to accept that the ‘long’ runs would be long, to settle into the rhythm of the run and any aches and pains I would be feeling would just be what it was. If that didn’t make sense, I did think of a perfect analogy, (which is a bit weird so bare with). Remember the moment in Breaking Dawn when Bella learns to stretch her weird mind shield out to include a lot of people even though it keeps on snapping back into place? That’s what needs to happen with your mind. It is hard, but it’s definitely possible!
  • Set an end date for your 10k: I know I mentioned something similar in my last post on running a 5k but having an end date really did help me increase my running distance. When I came back after holiday, I took the first week to do a couple ‘easy runs’ to ‘get myself back into it’. Then at the end of the week I realised that I didn’t have a lot of time left until the race and I had basically just wasted a whole week running distances I had done many times before. So the next day I ran 6.5k. After that run I realised that the extra 1.5k wasn’t so hard (it also helps if you think of it as just an extra 1k because thats an easy short distance!) so at the end of the next week I ran 8k, then 9k and then 10k for the actual race!
  • Take your headphones out?: A lot of road races do not permit wearing headphones during the race for safety reasons so it is a good idea to practice running without music to get used to it especially if you’re like me and rely on something to entertain you on runs. I didn’t actually do this, however throughout the actual race I had a lovely time amusing myself by appreciating the scenery and eavesdropping on other people’s conversations so I wouldn’t worry too much.

That’s it for advice on my behalf but there are so many helpful resources out there if you’re looking for training plans or have other questions. I didn’t follow a strict training plan, just did what I wanted and it worked out for me!

I’ve actually recently signed up for a 10k tough runner and I’ve never done hilly trail running before so if you have any advice, I would really appreciate it as I fear this may be a catastrophic failure.

Happy times!

Advice for Beginners Running a 5k

So you’re thinking about running a 5k? You’re probably after a fancy training plan, super professional advice and recommendations of training gear. Well yes, yes you’ve come to the wrong place.

Hi my name’s Hannah and in the first year of university my diet consisted mostly of Frubes, Fruitshoots and cheese on crackers. When my housemates would ask if I wanted to go the gym with them I would answer with a repulsed, ‘NO.’ Well guess who is not only a #healthyqueen now but has also run a 5k and a 10k since then? Me. Welcome to my advice for running a 5k that you should take with a pinch of salt because I am definitely not a professional (thank you).

On a more serious note I did wonder if I should do a post on this because I thought, ‘surely its better to direct people towards actual professionals’ but I know that when I was looking for advice when I wanted to run a 5k, that’s now what I wanted. As helpful as advice was from actual runners, I was also interested in advice from normal people who like to run for fun that didn’t focus on intense training plans or eating plans etc. This post is an accumulation of everything I read that was helpful and worked for me.

So a little backstory. Before I ran my first 5k my fitness level was pretty average. I went to a fitness class at university once a week/every other week and as mentioned, my diet included a lot of Fruitshoots, Frubes and cheese on crackers (and vegetables, don’t worry mum). As for training, I only went on three or four ‘training runs’ before I actually ran 5k, the shortest about 1k (to see what it was like to run and not stop after 10 seconds) and the longest about 3.5 kilometres. It was only after I ran 5k for the first time that I focused on running long distances, running more times throughout the week, shortening my time per kilometre etc. Therefore my ‘training’ really wasn’t extensive before I ran 5k. I knew I could run 3.5k and I really wanted to do it so I just thought ‘f*ck it, I’ll run it and we’ll just see what happens.’ Well I did it, and I’ve run many more since then and this is what I learn’t.

  1. Slow down: This was one of the biggest things I did wrong when I first started running. When I ran that first 1k to see how far I could run, I ran way too fast and that’s probably why I had to stop after a short distance. I would advise that you should probably run at a pace where you can hold a conversation. Running slowly is what got me round my first parkrun (my first 5k) because I just thought to myself ‘I don’t care how fast I do this, I just want to complete it’ (and that should probably tell you something about the mindset you should have about running as well) and so I ran really slowly. My first time was slow but as the weeks passed and I settled more into running, my time got faster and faster and that was really motivating. This also goes for when you’re running the actual 5k as well, remember not to run out too fast. My parkrun is a two lap course and if I’m too tired to wave at my mum or do the woah at my sister as I pass them on the first lap then I know I’ve started too fast and that second half will be hell.
  2. Breathing: One of the biggest things that also helped me run faster and for longer was sorting out my breathing. Humans should all breathe from their diaphragms (like babies do when they’re born) but as we grow up and are affected by stress etc we start breathing from our lungs which is wrong. In the past when I’ve run and begun to feel tired, I would suck more air in through my lungs which would make my chest feel tighter. Then I would stress about the tightness and possibly not finishing the run which would lead to more tightening etc, so definitely try to breathe with your diaphragm. Also a breathing technique I saw on Youtube that really works for me (I can’t remember who I saw it from, sorry!) is breathing in for two counts and then out for two. I find this helps to regulate my breathing but it’s also a good tip for someone who gets bored whilst running as time passes whilst you focus on counting in and out in your head. I’ve experimented breathing in through my nose, out through my mouth and breathing in and out both via mouth and have found the latter works best, but play around with it!
  3. Water: I know this is super obvious but how hydrated you are really does effect the quality of your running. I noticed when I was training for my 10k that when I was dehydrated I could feel a lot more of the lactic acid burn in my legs at the start of my run that would usually last for around 3k which would be incredibly uncomfortable during a 5k. So stay hydrated! (But also don’t drink loads of water before you go for a run because needing a wee whilst you’re running is a struggle.)
  4. Music or Podcasts: When I began running I found the sound of my breathing incredibly annoying (mainly because I sounded like an out of breath walrus) so I listened to music to erase that and also provide something uplifting to run along to. I also really enjoy podcasts for longer runs as I’m less likely to think about the pain in my legs or my breathing if there’s someone talking in my ear for a long period of time. Also, as much as I love running to music, it can sometimes cause me to unintentionally slow down or speed up (when that beat drops) which causes irregularities in my pace, making it harder to track how I’m doing or it can tire me early in a run. Another good reason to try out podcasts!
  5. Targets: I found that it was helpful to have a target to work towards as 5k was the first leap I was taking in long distance running. For me, that target was parkrun which is an event that happens every Saturday or Sunday where you and your local community gather in a park and run 5k together. My dad did it and it looked really fun and so that was what I worked towards. Having an actual day in mind where I would run my first 5k motivated me to actually keep going. Once I achieved that, I created new targets, like shortening my 5k time. I recommend finding a 5k event you could enter into, participating in parkrun yourself (because they are really fun!) or even just setting yourself a date to run 5k by because once you’ve achieved that, you won’t want to stop running.
  6. Food? : I should probably add that whilst I did begin to eat healthier, that is not what enabled me to run 5k. What enabled me to run 5k was everything I mentioned above. I changed what I ate because I’m not sure anyone should be eating cheese on crackers for supper.

I do really enjoy running and from someone who previously hated all forms of physical exercise and P.E, I would recommend giving it a go!

Goold luck and remember to take your time, focus on your breathing and running a steady pace.

You’ve got this.

Navigating Your First Term at University

Hello and happy Sunday,

I know my blog has recently become almost a university help page but I love writing this kind of content and also it’s nice writing helpful content, so here we are again!

I wanted to write this post as my most recent post was about navigating fresher’s week and so the next step is diving into your first term at university. However your first term at university can be hard, not only are you starting university and a whole new higher level of academia but you’ve also got to start living your actual adult life away from your parents. So here is another lovely post of advice for you, including what I wish that I’d been told during my first term.

  1. Go to your lectures: Term 1 and first year of university is not the time to fall into bad habits. It is the time to dabble in a few bad habits but ultimately set up a strong foundation and routine upon which you can have a successful three or four years. I know it’s appealing to, for example, go out at night and sleep through the day but it’s definitely not sustainable and it will come back to screw you over in the long term. For me, in first term I just used to sleep in for ages, purely because I had previously shared a room with my sister and my new uni room was quiet and it had really good blackout curtains so I could sleep for ages uninterrupted. That was for fun for a while but I wish someone had said to me, ‘hey, get up.’ If you fall down a hole of bad habits in first year, it’s a lot harder to climb out of those bad habits in second year when university…actually counts. *shudders*
  2. Focus on technique: Following on from the last point, whilst it is important to go to lectures and not fall into bad habits, don’t try so hard to be perfect. Don’t worry about doing hours of prep everyday, pulling all-nighters in your first term for assignments and in general burning yourself out. Focus instead on learning the techniques of writing a good essay, efficient preparation for seminars and other skills that you will need for the next three years.
  3. Don’t fall into flat drama: In first term, when you’ve just met a bunch of new people and you’re all living together, there is a high chance there will be house drama. Whether its two people who don’t get along, two people who get together (don’t sh*t where you eat), two people who make drunken mistakes in the first week that spirals into a hole of trouble, something will probably happen. For the people who are outside of it, try not to get yourselves involved, focus on your own lives (and your own exciting new adventures!) because you don’t want your first term at university to be consumed with the issues of other people. If you’re the people in the drama yourselves, good luck and try not to suck other people in because its your business, not the problem of other people.
  4. Fall into a routine: I feel like I mention routines a lot (sorry, not sorry), but it is possible after fresher’s week and that initial rush of beginning university to feel quite lost, especially if you’re not settling in all that well. SO routines are a good step to getting used to life at university. Being productive and achieving your ‘routine’ everyday will make you think, ‘yes I’m crushing this.’
  5. Look after your plants: The amount of people who get plants for their new room, free plants from fresher’s fair or from a fresher’s houseplant sale is a lot, so please remember to look after your plants. Properly. Especially if you’re the type of person who responds with ‘yeah just put a bit of water on it’ when you’re asked if you know how to look after the bonsai tree you’re buying. (A conversation I overheard.) A happy plant creates a happy space!

Hopefully this post is of help to people going through their first term/year of university- just remember to not take anything too seriously and have fun with it all as-well!

A Guide to the BEST Fresher’s Week

Hey Guys,

If you didn’t know, I’m currently a third year at Exeter university at the end of my third (and final, boo) fresher’s week so have a fair amount of experience and advice to give on the area. Obviously, this post is going to come a bit late for fresher’s weeks that have already passed but a lot of universities are still to start. So, if you’re a fresher, second OR third year (because you don’t have to be a newbie at university to spend a week trying new things and getting drunk-responsibly- with your friends ) and are looking for advice on how to have the best fresher’s week, then look no further:

  1. Don’t drink too much-If you drink the very first day you arrive, DON’T drink too much because no-one wants to spend their first full day at university hungover.
  2. No vom please– Also, please for your own safety and also a bit of respect for the people you’ve gone out with that you’ve probably just met that week, don’t drink to the level of vomiting. It’s unwise to get to that state and then be reliant on a stranger getting you home plus…no-one that you’ve met that week wants to be clearing up your sick.
  3. Go with the flow– it’s really hard to get in to a routine in fresher’s week because so much happens and there’s so much to do, so hold in there and go with the flow until you can properly start to get a routine together when lectures start.
  4. Read a book (just do some work)- because lectures and seminars still exist and it’s probably best you go to your first seminar at least a little prepared.
  5. Carry a bottle of water with you every day– I’m a third year and I still forgot to drink water for the first three days of this past fresher’s week.
  6. Pesto pasta is the way to go– similar to the previous point, it’s also really hard to get into the rhythm of cooking and feeding yourself. Stick to something easy (like pesto pasta, a student classic) and bulk make it so it will last a couple of days. Also I would probably eat some fruit, just for a #healthytime.
  7. Taster Sessions!– Go to ALL the taster sessions you want. A lot of societies run taster sessions and meet and greet socials throughout fresher’s which is a great opportunity to try a society you might want to join and to meet people! I think they’re especially useful as from these taster sessions, you can decide if you want to buy a membership or not and also sometimes it’s a nicer way to meet people as the nightlife is always so crazy week one, you can’t be guaranteed a good night out.
  8. Go to your Fresher’s Fair!– I do think that Fresher’s fair is a little bit of a gold mine…let me run you through some examples. In my first year I got a free pack of spaghetti from the Morrisons stall which down the line came in very useful for spaghetti eating competitions. In my second year I signed up to GRB on a whim and then a couple months later got an email that said they were looking for student bloggers which I got involved with. Now, in my third year I’ve gotten enough pizza vouchers to feed me for a week. There is an endless amount of helpful resources and companies at Fresher’s fair and an endless amount of freebies, so well worth going to.
  9. Organise your room– This is for the moments in Fresher’s week when you might have nothing else to do or may be feeling a bit overwhelmed or lost in the craziness that is Fresher’s week. Sorting you’re room out is a nice quiet activity to do plus it will create a nice, homey space that may calm other anxieties you might have.
  10. Talk to people!– Whether you are happy, nervous, sad, drunk, lonely, or even just hungry, talk to people! You’ll most definitely feel better after, you never know who you might meet and you might just become amazing friends with the person you’re talking to. Also, it doesn’t just have to be people at university- just because you’ve left home doesn’t mean you can’t speak to home. You’re mum is probably dying to talk to you and I’m sure the dog is too.

Hope you have the best fresher’s week!!

What I Read This Summer

If you read my New Year’s Resolutions post you would know that one of my goals for 2019 was to read more for pleasure since as an english student, most of my life is consumed with reading for my degree. As fun as that is, I do prefer just reading in my downtime and not having to read with the analytical part of my brain turned on. So I used this summer to get on top of that ( and to make my Goodreads reading challenge look a bit better) and thought it would nice to share what I actually read!

  1. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella- Now…before I get more into this review I will say that previously I have really enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s work. Her shopaholic series is the one of the most popular book series ever, Can You Keep a Secret? and I’ve Got Your Number are two of my favourite books ever, but (and it’s a big ‘but’) I Owe You One just really failed to hit the mark. The plot lacks originality and depth and it’s really hard to like any of the characters. (Literally the whole way through Fixie liking Ryan…what was even going on..) To top it off, the thing that mainly annoyed me about this book was how the female characters are written. The vast majority of women in this books seem to be spineless, weak and have no independence at all. ‘Fixie’, the main character doesn’t seem to be able to do anything without a man giving her the means to do so first. *SPOILER WARNING* She only realises that Ryan is a massive twat after he dumps her. Later on in the novel, there are moments when ‘Fixie’ gains the confidence and motivation to overcome her own insecurities and sort problems out but only after she’s been given a pep talk by a man. I would have liked to see Fixie be strong and independent (a more accurate representation of modern day women), realise right and wrong by herself but it just doesn’t happen. ‘Fixie’s’ best friend (who I can’t remember the name of at the moment!) seems to be the only female voice of reason in the novel but she is made out to appear crazy because of her OCD. Even ‘Fixie’ the main character who ‘fix’s things’ which in another context could be a good personality trait, is made to appear crazy and obsessive. So not my favourite novel, and the portrayal of women is just disappointing.
  2. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris- I read quite a few books this summer around the subject of World War 2 and the Holocaust because I find books on those subjects really interesting and I also went to Krakow this summer and saw a lot of the Jewish history within the city as well as going to the actual Auschwitz camp. I really enjoyed the book, it tells a personal story within a tragic part in history very well and I thought Heather Morris did justice to Lale’s story. It is well worth reading.
  3. The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy by Tadeusz Pankiewicz/ The Good Doctor of Warsaw by Elisabeth Gifford- Again, following on with a similar book subject, I read The Good Doctor of Warsaw early on in the summer before I went to Poland and The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy after I had been and after I saw the actual pharmacy. Both are very sad parts of history and the reason I’ve put them together is because they’re parts of history which I didn’t really know existed. It sounds bad but in school I remember being taught about World War 2,the Holocaust the British history, the political side of the German history but not so much the specifics of the polish history like the Krakow and Warsaw ghettos and the uprisings. Both books were really interesting, well written and I learn’t a lot and above all, they tell very important stories about what tragedies befell to a lot of people, stories that should be shared told and shared over and over again.
  4. Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon- I picked this book up kind of on a whim from a charity shop but I really liked it. Not only does Bryony Gordon write in a really funny and captivating way (very similar to Dolly Alderton’s style and her book is one of my all time favourites!) but her story is very inspiring and I can imagine it would resonate with a lot of people. I followed her on Instagram after I read her book and she also posts a lot of body positive/ mental health awareness content on there so not only do I recommend reading her book but following her on social media!
  5. Daughter of the House by Rosie Thomas- *Sigh*. Yeah, you could say that this book was a bit of a disappointment. Again, I picked it up from a market stall and the blurb made it seem quite interesting so I thought for £2, I couldn’t really go wrong, might as well get it and read it. However, this book just has no direction. It took me ages to get into it because the first couple chapters just seem to be a bunch of characters jabbering at each other. The characters also aren’t that interesting and like I mentioned in my review of The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle I find it really hard to keep going with books when none of the characters are likeable because there’s no chance of me giving a rats arse about what happens to any of them. Regardless, around the middle I kind of got into it a bit more, finished it but then the ending didn’t seem to resolve anything. I didn’t finish it and think ‘are you kidding me, give me more’, it was more, ‘are you kidding me, I can’t believe I just wasted all that time into this book’. The ‘uncanny’ which I thought was going to be massive part of Nancy and her life seemed undeveloped, which I felt was disappointing because it seemed like something that if developed properly, could have made an amazing story.Instead, it was just a bit …eh.

Hopefully inspiration can be taken from this list if you’re looking for a book to read because I did really enjoy the majority of what I read this summer. I didn’t read much but it was nice to read at a leisurely pace rather than the two book a week grind I’m on during term time!

Happy reading!