I will always remember my 1st 5 K run (3.1 miles).
I had an amazing experience that uplifted my spirits in so many ways that i never thought it would.
In the beautiful city of Odense, on 19th June 2016, perfect day for a running event, a sunny day with a chill breeze here and there just to remind you that you are still in Denmark, everything started around noon in the south side of town, in the green heart of the nature.
The running event was organized specially for women, it is an annual event, created by ALT for damerne in collaborations with several companies with noble purposes (such as raising funds and raise awareness).
I have found out about the event through Red Barnet – Save Children Denmark , at the center where i am currently volunteering – they were also involved in this event, raising funds for the children in need.
It took me a month to decide to enroll. I was carrying around the flyer with the information and i was asking my closest friends for encouragement, because i never thought i could do it.
I knew that i was able to run 3k, but i haven’t push myself for a 5k before. Finally, few weeks prior to the event i have finally signed in and was very excited about it.
Running event June 2016 – Personal Review
As mentioned, I loved the fact that the event was organized in nature, close to woods and waters, with birds around and beautiful different shades of green everywhere to delight your eyes and soul.
There were several tents with food (nothing vegan sadly, hopefully next year), a presentation of sport clothing for women, where i found some lovely items that I have purchased after, and an entertaining moment / prep talk before the start. There were also some organized activities after the run. I have never seen so many women in one place in my entire life. All size and shapes, different ages from young girls to seniors, it was truly beautiful and inspirational!
I have received my running number and the T-shirt I ordered online before the event, which fit perfectly and I am wearing it with pleasure. As a participation gift, they gave away a “bag of goodies” which contained practical items such as cleaning wipes, toothpaste, chewing gum packs, face cleanser, hand cream, protein powder and chocolates. Since most of them are not vegan and i am not using any kind of creams on my skin at the moment, I am not going to use some of the products and therefore will not make a review about them. But the goodies bag was a very good touch! The cherry on top of the cake was a Boozt discount coupon which enabled me to purchase at a lower price the sportswear I was stalking (and dreaming) for a long time. Yay for that! 🙂
The route was divided very clever in such way that each running group was not too crowded and messing up the rest. The challenges of this event were thought in a great manner, so that almost anyone could participate; therefore you could engage in a 5k walk, a 5k run, a 10k run or a 15k run.
There was a great warm-up session before starting and then each category was divided into groups of 300 runners. Along the way it was everything about speed: if you were faster, you would get to the finish line quicker, regardless the group you started the run with. Since this was not a race, there were no strict rules to hold you back. Pure fun.
I regret not having recorded the running route, maybe next time (now that I know how things are going in such event) but it was pretty amazing!
On the streets there were people applauding and cheering for you.
At each kilometer reached there was a group of people encouraging and flipping flags in the air, pointing to the direction you need to go.
There were organized water breaks for the ones in need and kids who were holding their hands in the air waiting to give you a high five. Very nice!
At the end of the run we were given apples, water and delicious buns, and information regarding our timing.
I have run a 5k in 33:49 minutes, and I am very proud of it.
From my humble experience I narrowed down 5 important things that I consider great tips for beginners (and not only I might say) to help you start or improve your running activity and enjoy it.
Here are my 5 tips for beginners to have a successful fun run
The 1st thing you need to do is to SIGN UP! As soon as you can. Sign up to a race. The best way to get you clicking on a goal is to making it official. Tell your good friends that you are planning to do this.
Now you have a deadline a motivation, and people who support you. Perfect!
All you need to do now is getting ready to run.
These being said gets me to my 1st and most important step:
1. Run using carbs as fuel – Don’t run from carbs
Eat right. Eat enough.
Eat fruits, vegetables, seeds, drink water.
Enjoy food like it’s a celebration everyday.
Eat a high carb low fat vegan diet, it gets you on top of the clouds, i promise you! Whoever says it differently didn’t do it right and has no education for it.
Eat as much as you need, don’t restrict yourself, don’t be afraid of calories, don’t be afraid of sugars from fruits, it’s what your brain wants, it’s what you body needs.
Respect your body, invest in it, listen to it, love it! (exclamation mark)
Some people have a small meal before running (like a banana for example) other don’t eat at all because they feel heavy and noxious. For each individual is different, listen to your body and do what’s best for you.
I am running very early in the morning, around 7 am or 8 am, so it is easy for me not to eat before. I am drinking water 1st thing in the morning, and I am not doing this as a self induced rule, but because my body asks for it and I feel perfect doing it this way.
I run without eating before, but I have enough strength and energy and I am well hydrated.
When I come back, I eat my breakfast after taking a shower. Usually it is oatmeal with tons of fruits (mix berries, bananas, grapes, cinnamon, nuts, coconut chips, agave/maple syrup, something like this) and I feel amazing.
Because your muscles are fueled primarily on carbohydrates, you need to make sure you start doing this the right way, especially when you are soliciting yourself physically more than before – so don’t run away from carbs, run using carbs. Carbs are your friends.
Before my 1st 5k which was at 14:30 in the afternoon, I had my usual breakfast and before the run I had a banana because I was hungry and it was my lunch time. But I didn’t exaggerate and filled my belly with other foods or water. After the event there was another story 🙂
So eat enough, but eat right.
Don’t see this as a diet, see it as a lifestyle and allow yourself to fall in love with it, because it brings you only healthy energetic benefits.
Fuel your body, brain and muscles with great food. Respect yourself.
2. Make it ‘your thing’
Consistency is key.
Be consistent with your training. Either it’s jogging, walking, or whatever works for you, you need to be persistent. It is not enough to go for a run one time/ week and then stop for a long time. Let your body get used to being active and make it ‘your new thing’. Make it your ‘positive routine’ instead of something you just want to get rid of just to mark it off your to do list.
Whether you want to have weight loss results, get a new status, or win a race you need to be real about it and enjoy it.
If you have some days when you feel you need a break, take it and don’t feel guilty about it. It is important to listen to your body and treat it as your friend, be understanding, loving and motivating.
I run 4 times/week because I simply love it. I love being alone with my thoughts and my music and I have my special route in nature and a huge boulder as my target which I named Bob. Every morning I am running to Bob and back and on my way home there is a swing where I am stopping for a while and cool down my body and empty my mind. And then again run back home and start my day. And this is my thing, you see? 🙂 and I look forward to it every day.
If there are days when I don’t feel like running, I simply don’t run. And I enjoy my activities without stressing about it.
I am not pinching my belly in the mirror, I am not putting a big red “X” on my workout calendar to underline my failure, and I am not sabotaging myself – I aim to respect my body’s needs. And then I will wake up maybe 3 mornings after and feel like running again. And everything is great.
Allow yourself to have breaks, but eat right all the time. This way you will not ‘lose’ what you worked for in the days you went for a run.
Be consistent in a positive way: if you need breaks take breaks. But if you manage to make your running activity enjoyable (create a pleasant route, a great playlist etc) you will see that you will need less and less breaks from it.
3. Escalate the amount you run
“Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star”
– W. Clement Stone
This might be a little unfair for me to tell you, because I have not done this before my 1st 5 K. BUT I was not planning to run a 5 k in an organized event. I was terrified when I found out about the event because I wanted to try it so bad, but was afraid that will not be able to finish it. And I did finish it. I congratulate myself full of modesty. You will do it too.
Maybe if I would have trained before especially for this, I would have finished the route much faster than 33:49 minutes. Who am I kidding? For sure not “maybe”. So for my next run (which will be a 10 K) I am currently training this way.
Therefore, as a great friend that I am, I am telling you to try and monitorize your running progress each time, and every day run a bit longer than the day before. Maybe to the next boulder like I did 😀 (hahaha, send me pictures if you do this).
This is important if you want to finish the run faster, or if you want to participate in a race, where you need to score a good timing.
Make a goal time to know your pace, and after you find it and you feel comfortable, push it to hold on to it. Having a steady pace it is relevant because naturally when we run long distances our bodies are getting tired and we are slowing down without noticing. I somehow found my pace while running the 5 k, and this is because I didn’t want to stop at all, and wanted to find that ‘zone’ that everybody is talking about. Well, I found it after the 1st k and I was in the zone, yo! I was running at a certain pace for more than 3 k and I was comfortable and relaxed.
This brings me to my next point:
4. Run relaxed
Have you ever watched professional runners? Have you noticed when cameras are zooming in to their faces that their figure is shaking like jelly, they seem wobbly and made of gelatin somehow. Well this is because they learned how to relax their entire body – this helps also to keep up their speed.
It is very important to run relaxed. When you are running tense, you will get tired much faster.
I learned in time how to breath relaxed, how to move my hands around my body and stay relaxed, how to generally run relaxed. And most importantly: I learned to not care if I look weird while doing it. Life is too short ya’ kno’?
I kept reminding this to myself and now, if I find my body to be tense, I am putting in practice a great relaxing technique from a lovely yoga teacher who showed us in class how to relax each part of our body. Start thinking about your forehead, and focus to relax that area, let your skin be loose on your face, let your tongue relax in your mouth, your back of your neck, your shoulders, your elbows, your lower back and so on. When you fixate your mind on the parts of your body you want to relax, they will listen to you.
It is all mind over matter.
Practice relaxation while your are training, and your run will be faster, fluid and smooth.
5. Run your own race
Weather you like to start hard in the beginning and go slower in the middle, or you are running fast the entire way or more steady and calm, it is very important to run your own race.
Don’t depend on anyone. Follow your own way to the finish; own pace, own running style.
Don’t follow that person with blue pants just to validate an egocentric point, and don’t get desperate if that one is faster than you. On the same note: don’t get cocky if you leave that person behind. It is not about proving anything to anyone but improving yourself.
Another thing that I liked about this running event for women was the friendly atmosphere. We didn’t know each other and we were not chatting, but on the way we were like friends. Some friends went faster, some friends went slower, but there was no aggressive competition.
Run your own race and push yourself for better, reach your own goals, be proud of yourself, enjoy the ride, enjoy the nature around you, the people who are smiling at you, who are trying to give you a high five. Don’t lose these small, great things from your sight, just because you are at a running event. Stay focus, but free yourself from others, don’t rely on anyone, don’t feel inferior, run your own race, make it count for your own growth and well being. This is my advice anyway.
Why should you do it?
Participating to such activity may help you in more ways that you can imagine. It sets you free in many ways.
For me, 1st of all it contributed immensely to my self esteem. I never thought I could run a 5 k ‘in one take’. I always said that I am a loner runner and I don’t like being with others around me, but it didn’t bothered me at all. In fact it was so beautiful when going up on a heal and looking ahead and see all this red T-shirts, all these women having the same purpose, going the same way. Then looking behind me and another line of women were following their only purpose for that moment: to reach the end line of this wonderful event created for them.
It was an amazing empowering atmosphere, very positive and emotional I might say. I felt very grateful and inspired the entire time. And when the run was over, I wasn’t ready to stop, I was pumped and happy and that feeling stayed with me til this day (I am now running over 4k in the mornings instead of my regulars 3k).
I learned that I have a certain pace, I know now that I can push myself and reach my goal – and it sounds hard but it is not all, and I can do anything when I let go of useless thoughts.
Personally, the achievement was far more than a 5k run, and I am so proud of myself!
And I must thank my wonderful friends who encouraged me and said all the time “of course you can do this, it’s a piece of cake” and it was. A vegan piece of cake, because I felt amazing before, during and after (see what i did there? Hint hint) and I have only to benefit from it.
I am now training for a 10 K, and can’t wait to see myself succeed at this one too.
I strongly encourage you to get rid of your fear and mistrust, because you can do this too!
It is fun, refreshing, and it is a great opportunity to give yourself a break from everything else and observe yourself from another perspective.
Allow yourself to be amazed by the person you really are and strive to be the best version of yourself everyday.
Until next time, peace and plants to you 🙂