By all accounts fall is race season in San Diego, and for good reason. The return of lower temperatures makes running outdoors for an extended time tolerable, while the looming holidays and seasonal gluttony provide motivation to kick your exercise routine into high gear.
Many San Diegans earn their feast by hitting the pavement Thanksgiving morning in one of the many turkey trots around the county, and there’s a host of other races including charity fundraisers and themed runs (‘80s runs and color runs are popular choices).
At just over six miles, a 10K is a perfect introduction to the world of racing: enough distance to pose a challenge without the intimidation and added physical strain of half or full marathons.
If you’re looking to bag your first 10K, here are some easy tips to get you started.
A good pair of shoes is your best friend. When it comes to distance running, this is one area where you absolutely cannot skimp (expect to spend $100-$150 on the right pair). Running in worn out or low-quality footwear is a one-way ticket to shin splints, bone spurs, poor joint alignment and other ailments that will haunt you long after your racing career is over. Do your body good by choosing a shoe with the right amount of arch support and stability for your personal running stride.
Where to start? Head to a specialty running store like Road Runner Sports in Kearny Mesa, Just Run in Bird Rock or The Running Center in Carlsbad. There you’ll find experienced running experts who can watch you run on a treadmill, analyze your stride and recommend the shoes for you. Just don’t forget to break them in before race day!
Sign up for a running group. Most running stores host fun-run groups that meet up a couple of times a week. This is an easy way to schedule your training, plus you’ll meet other runners who can offer their own advice and cheer you on when you feel like giving up.
Don’t give up! Distance running is different than any exercise you’ve ever done in the gym. You will get blisters. You will get cramps. You will get chafing in odd places (a tube of Body Glide is a runner’s second-best friend). This is where mental stamina comes into play. Set a goal or even a simple mantra that you can repeat to yourself in your head when your legs start to feel like noodles.
Pace yourself. The key to successful training is to start small and gradually build up to your maximum distance on race day. Keep your first few runs light and easy, then add distance in intervals as you feel your body adjusting. Be sure to listen to your body; it will tell you when you’re pushing too hard and when you’re ready to add some intensity.
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Instagram @hanger18.