8 things I’ve learned training for my first 10K

Our reporter taking at least three of her training tips: Good sneakers, check. Comfortable attire, check. No headphones, check.

Our reporter taking at least three of her training tips: Good sneakers, check. Comfortable attire, check. No headphones, check.

Considering running the 37th annual Shelter Island 10K, which takes place June 18?

Here are some tips from our reporter Rachel Young, who is training for her first 10K, the New York Mini, in Manhattan’s Central Park.

If interested, you can register for the Shelter Island race here.

Twenty-two.

That’s the staggering number of marathons my father had completed by the time he was 40 — and it only took him a decade to accomplish the feat.

Me? I took up running as a child, belonged to my high school’s track and field team and have participated in a number of 5Ks. But it wasn’t until this year, at age 30, that I decided to push myself further by registering for a 10K.

Why did I do it? Mostly, I was tired of wistfully saying “Maybe one day” whenever my sister-in-law encouraged me to sign up for whatever race she was running that month. I’m sure she was sick of it, too.

Finally saying yes to running 6.2 miles has been both frightening and empowering. In the course of two months of training, I’ve pushed myself mentally and physically in ways I previously shied away from. In doing so, I’ve learned that — hey! — I’m stronger than I thought.

At this rate, I’ll never match my dad’s accomplishments — and that’s OK. But who knows? Maybe the next time you hear from me I’ll be training for a half marathon.

Here are eight things I’ve learned while training.

1. Don’t skimp on sneakers.

I used to buy the cheapest running shoes I could find. Thirty bucks for a pair of Nikes? What a steal! I quickly discovered, however, that prioritizing cost over fit meant subjecting my feet to unsupportive, toe-crunching sneakers.

Visit a shoe specialist who can analyze your feet to help determine the right shoe for you. If that isn’t practical, find suggestions by answering a short questionnaire at runnersworld.com/shoeadvisor.

2. You will have bad days.

There have been evenings I feel unwell but somehow manage to run four miles. Conversely, there are mornings I imagine myself the pinnacle of health but struggle to jog 100 meters. While discouraging, I power through those bad days as best I can by reassuring myself they’re only temporary. And you know what? They are.

3. Go at your own pace.

My 12-minute mile doesn’t put me in the running (sorry) for any awards, but it feels right for my body. Rather than tire myself out prematurely trying to keep up with faster joggers, I focus instead on maintaining my pace. Who needs a medal, anyway?

4. Wear proper attire.

Similar to buying comfortable sneakers, spending a little extra dough on athletic wear that fits well and is made with moisture-wicking materials makes running more enjoyable. Doing so doesn’t have to be expensive, either: I consistently find great deals at big-box discount stores.

5. Rest days are crucial.

It’s important to give your body a chance to recover between runs, especially if you’re going long distances. I typically aim for three non-consecutive training sessions a week. So far, so good: I haven’t injured myself.

6. Be mindful of the weather.

Years ago, when I still lived at home, my dad strongly advised me never to run in temperatures above 85 degrees. One time, I ignored him — and became so dehydrated during my 3-mile jog that I seriously contemplated knocking on a stranger’s door for a glass of water. I’m lucky I made it home without fainting.

7. Consider skipping the headphones.

Listening to the Beatles’ “White Album” can make a long run more tolerable, but it also makes you less likely to hear a car coming around a bend. My dad somehow jogged a combined 576 miles without relying on an iPod. I’ll survive, too.

8. Believe in yourself.

Fellow runners have long assured me that jogging long distances is mostly a matter of willpower — and I think they’re right. If I feel tired during one of my runs, I scope out the nearest landmark and give myself permission to stop when I reach it. When I do, I find another landmark and repeat the process. Play this mental trick on yourself enough times and you’ll eventually reach your goal.