Breaking the 50 minute barrier at Eastleigh 10K

In March 2010, I ran the Eastleigh 10K in a little over 57 minutes. Having PB’d at the Stubbington 10K in January on a more difficult course, I knew I had a very good chance of shaving a good few minutes off my Eastleigh 10K PB on Sunday.

In fact, a couple of recent 5K runs of close to 23 minutes proved that getting close to 50 minutes would be possible if I pushed hard.

During one of those 5K runs, my pace averaged at 7:31 minutes per mile, significantly faster than I’d managed to run before.

With this in mind, I set myself the challenge of completing the Eastleigh 10K sub-50! My training advisor/coach, Rachael Elliott, agreed that this was possible and provided lots of advice on ensuring it. Thanks Rach!

Prior to the race, it was great to see lots of Eastleigh parkrunners. When I told some of them of my goal time, they looked uncertain I could knock over 7 minutes off of my previous race time and improve my 10K PB by over 3 minutes (the PB was only 2 months old).

However, over the last few months, my training regime has focused on running slower! I had bought a Garmin Forerunner sports watch to help me train using heart rate zones and was running 4-5 times per week following Rach’s training plan which consisted of:

– Kenyan hill/interval session
– recovery run
– long slow run
– slow run
– tempo run

The idea of running slow to get fast seemed contradictory and running slow really didn’t feel natural for a few weeks and for several slow runs, my Average Heart Rate, AHR, was too high. I gradually learned to control it though.

So, back to the race… Having screwed up some races by over-hydrating and going off too fast, Rach’s advice proved invaluable. In fact, in terms of hydration, I had a coffee and orange juice at breakfast 3 hours before race start and then a couple of sips of water 30 minutes before.

At this point, I should add that I was going to be running in my brand new K-Swiss K-Ona C running shoes. Having never run in them before, this was definitely a gamble. I risked blisters and that could ruin my chance of reaching my target. However, the Newtons that I’d won as Eastleigh parkrunner of the month back in October/November 2010 were looking very worn and had clocked up over 500 miles. K-Onas it was!!

My plan (based on Rach’s advice) was to run even splits at 05:00 mins/km pace.

As the start gun fired and I headed (with the other 1300+ competitors) for the start line), I taped the bezel of my Garmin and then couldn’t press the Start button as it re-located satellites. Grrrrr!

0.2km into the race and I could see my stats. I focused on running 05:00 on average and completely ignored my heart rate (I have a tendency to see a high HR and then ease back but knew that if I did that, I’d risk meeting my target.

At my pace, I calculated that I’d have to cross the finish line in under 49 minutes based on my Garmin. But before that, there were 6 miles to cover.

Having the Garmin proved invaluable. I could see my average pace constantly and could adjust my pace to keep at 05:00.

The first 2-3 km went well. Last year I struggled up the hill past Ham Farm but this year it felt easier. 3-5km went ok. I had to keep check on my average pace at this point as there was still a very gradual incline.

At 7km, I needed some water and grabbed a cup at the water station. 2 sips and it was discarded. My pace had dropped and I had work to do.

Things got tougher but my goal was at the forefront of my mind. I knew I’d made up a few seconds in the first 5-6km so could ease the pace a little but any more and my goal was in jeopardy.

The last 3km went quickly and for the last km along the path on Fleming Park field, I pushed a little harder. Not only did I have a few seconds to make up but also I didn’t really know my pace for the first 0.2 km. The finish line came into sight and I crossed in under 51 minutes. My Garmin showed 48:46. I think I might have done it!! However I wouldn’t know for sure until the results were published.

It was a long wait. Late in the afternoon, the results were available. 49:49!! An Eastleigh 10K PB of over 7:30 and a 10K PB by exactly 4 minutes. I was pleased to say the least.

A sub-45 10K no longer seems an impossible dream!!

So, what can I attribute my performance to? Mainly Rachael! Her training plan and advice was key. Without those things, I’d have probably run too fast in training, over-hydrated and set off to fast during the race. Most importantly, I’d not have believed that I could finish in under 50 seconds.

At the start of the year, I set one of my goals for 2011 to improve my 10K PB from 57:22 to 47:41. I’m now (only!) 2:08 from meeting this goal.

And now to really push the envelope, my goal for Eastleigh 10K 2012 is to finish in under 44 minutes. Will I do it? There’s only one way to find out!

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3 thoughts on “Breaking the 50 minute barrier at Eastleigh 10K

    • Many thanks Matt. Rach is an excellent ‘coach’. Great advice delivered in a friendly manner without feeling as if I’m being ‘told off’ when I deviate slightly from the plan or ‘controlled’. Works well for me and the results are starting to show.

  1. I’m hardly a coach – I just offered a bit of friendly advice! But appreciate all the thanks 🙂 Anyway, you did the running and juggled the schedule around a pretty hectic lifestyle which is to be applauded 🙂 Sub-45 will come soon.

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