Jenny Gibbs shares the experience of training for her first 10k race

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Photo credit: Absolutely Photo (http://www.absolutelyphoto.co.uk/)

Natalia Delfino catches up with her friend Jenny Gibbs to find out what it’s like training for her first 10k.

Jenny Gibbs has become one of my close friends at Serpentine – we met at Sid Wills’s beginner course last October and quickly became good buddies both in and outside the club. She wasn’t a runner while growing up, but a year ago she decided she wanted to start running – she is currently preparing to run her first 10k race.

I interviewed her to find out why she started running, and what it’s like training for her first 10k.

You are relatively new to the world of running. Have you been involved with sports for a long time?

I don’t have a sports background: I was the one usually trying to get out of PE at school! However, most of my life I have been doing a lot of dance and yoga – I love yoga so much that I trained to become a yoga teacher.

So what motivated you to take up running?

Health reasons: I work in an office all day, spending most of my time in front of a computer screen and I was always feeling tired. I was advised that I needed to do some cardio but I wasn’t enjoying the gym and wanted to do something outside in nature. A lot of my colleagues were taking up running and training for triathlons, and they inspired me to take up running.

How did you get involved with Serpentine?

One of my colleagues belongs to the club and told me there was a beginners’ running course, so I signed up.

What was your experience of joining Serpentine as a new runner?

Starting to run was a shock to the system – I realised how unfit I was despite all the dancing and yoga! The beginners’ course was fantastic and provided the encouragement that I needed. Sid paced the runs so that we gradually built up our stamina and we were soon running the ‘one park’ and then ‘two parks’ routes and that felt like a big achievement.

What motivated you to keep going and not to give up?

Our friendships in the beginners group. We all stuck with it and spurred each other on, running through all conditions: the darkness, the cold winter months and even a heatwave! Conversations with more experienced runners at the club also inspired me, as I saw what can be achieved with more intense training and all the different activities the club offers.

What was your first race, and did you train for it with anyone else?

My first race was the club handicap. It is the same distance as the ‘two parks’, so no additional training was involved. We all just decided to do it together I seem to remember!

Has running inspired you to try any other sports? If so, do you find that training in those other disciplines helps with your running?

Yes, I am taking a beginners’ swimming course, I occasionally do the Wednesday spin classes at the club, and regularly do strength training exercises prescribed by my physiotherapist. I started doing these exercises as I had developed ankle problems through a muscle/tendon weakness. This cross training has helped build stamina without putting additional pressure on my tendons/joints.

You mentioned you are training for your first 10k race – are you following a specific training programme, and do you have a coach?

I recently discovered that the club has set up a new weekly Monday night foundation track group designed to prepare runners for their first 10k, which involves structured interval training to improve speed and endurance so the jump from 7k to 10k should become a smooth transition.

How do you manage to fit in sports with a demanding job and ‘life’?

All the training is giving me more energy so it helps with work pressures. However there are only so many hours in the day so I am doing less dancing these days.

One last question – when are you signing up for your 10k race?

I’ve signed up to train with the Monday night foundation track group and the goal is the Regent’s Park 10k on Sunday 6 December… so now there is no going back!

Take on your own 10k race

If Jenny’s story has inspired you to sign up for a 10k race why not come down to the new Monday foundation track sessions at Paddington. These are designed to help you get comfortably round your first 10k or improve your 10k PB. Find out more.

Natalia Delfino has been a relaxed runner for about seven years, joined Serpentine 18 months ago (after reading about Sid’s beginners course) and has recently been bitten by the triathlon bug.