How to take your 5K to a 10K ready for the Cardiff Bay 10K on Sunday 31 March – top tips from Simply Gym at The Red Dragon Centre (ad)

Cardiff Running

Paid collaboration with The Red Dragon Centre

The stereotypical Mothering Sunday morning usually begins with a long lie-in and breakfast in bed. But that’s not the case this year for me (not to mention a good few hundred other mums) who will be forgoing a morning in bed to take part in the Cardiff Bay 10K on Sunday 31 March.

Around 5,000 runners are expected at the Run4Wales event, which starts and finishes in Roald Dahl Plass and passes iconic Cardiff landmarks including Wales Millennium Centre, the Norwegian Church, the Pierhead Building, the Senedd and Cardiff Bay Barrage.

And many of them are mums who are choosing to celebrate their Mother’s Day getting active. My husband and three children will be there to cheer me on – as well as joining me in the 2K family run straight after. Keeping active as a family is really important to us and last year while I took ojn two 10Ks and the Cardiff Half Marathon, my children took on two 5K runs and two 2K runs, helping to raise more than £800 for Ty Hafan children’s hospice for Wales in the process.

I know from my new part-time role as Community Coordinator for This Mum Runs Cardiff that a lot of mums will be spending their Mother’s Day morning at the Cardiff Bay 10K. I also know that for many of them this will be their very first 10K. I’ve spoken to several mums who took up running at the start of year with a Couch to 5K (C25K) programme. They’re now looking to up the distance with this event and tell me they are feeling both excited but daunted about taking on their longest run to date. I remember feeling the same this time last year.

Lee Johnson, manager at Simply Gym, Cardiff Bay

With this in mind, I’ve been speaking to Lee Johnson, who is the general manager at Simply Gym, a recently-opened facility at The Red Dragon Centre Cardiff Bay which combines low-cost membership fees with state-of-the-art equipment and full guidance and support from staff.

As regular readers will know, Cardiff Mummy Says is a blogger ambassador for The Red Dragon Centre. The whole centre is gearing up for both Mother’s Day and the Cardiff Bay 10K with its family-friendly restaurants, Odeon Cinema and Hollywood looking forward to welcoming families and runners alike. With Simply Gym being based at the centre – and also offering free use of its showering facilities to 10K runners – it seemed like the ideal opportunity to ask Lee his advice for beginner runners, as well as those preparing for their first 10K. He’s also prepared a training plan for anyone currently working towards the Cardiff Bay 10K.

Simply Gym Cardiff Bay

Dad of one Lee has worked in the leisure and fitness industry since he graduated with a degree in Sports Science in 2005. He has a passion for running and has completed several 10K and half marathons so knows all too well the ups and downs runners can face.

He’s sharing his top tips for runners below – and is also offering a free 7 day pass for all Cardiff Mummy Says readers to try out Simply Gym for themselves. You can also get your first month free and no joining free. Use the code MUMS for both.

Simply Gym is also offering all Cardiff Bay 10K runners free showering facilities on the day of the event, giving runners the perfect opportunity to refresh after the race and to continue their celebrations in Cardiff Bay. Just show your medal after the event and use the code SHOWERS.

Lee’s top tips for runners, whether you’re a beginner or working towards your first 10K.


Woman running through parkland

Image by MabelAmber on Pixabay

1. Preparation is key!

It’s an old expression but such an important one: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Get in the right mindset. Plan your journey, get your kit ready, plan your time/day in advance, and go smash it. Don’t forget to allow time to stretch/warm down too

Before every training run I ensure I have my headphones, my phone (for tracking and music), a water bottle, and that I know what route I am about to take. Whether you are running 5k or 10k or somewhere in between, map out your run first. This way you will have a designated start and finish line so once complete there is a real sense of accomplishment.

2. Think about time and distance

Unless you really want to smash your personal best then don’t worry about times – at least at the start of your journey anyway.

If you’re new to running, then 5K is certainly not easy. Therefore, give the distance the respect it deserves. Work up to the 5K. Start with brisk walks for 2K, then build to brisk walks up to 3K, 4K, or 5K walks maybe with one or two hills. Gradually build this to a 3K jog. If and when the 3K jog becomes easier (which it will, I promise) then up it to 4K. Complete the 4K 4-5 times, then hit the big 5K. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes to complete the 5K; it’s getting over the line that counts. Now that you’re a 5K runner you may want to start thinking about times. It’s the best feeling ever when you beat your previous 5K, and when you beat it again, that’s even better.

If you want to take your 5K to a 10K then you will need dedication and focus. Be confident though. You’ve got this far already – you can do this.

I prepared for my first 10K by gradually increasing the distance. I mapped out where the 10k route would take me, which became my ultimate goal/finish line, I then gradually built up to hitting that destination. I used interval training to support my running. This is where you slow jog for a period, then run for a period. Interval training is a proven technique to improve your endurance capacity, allowing you to work harder for longer. A really useful tool with this when road running is to jog to a lamppost then run to the next and so on. You’ll be really surprised how quickly your fitness will pick up by interval training.

3. Kit and equipment

I picked up injuries purely by not having the correct trainers for my running style. People tend to run in one of three styles (neutral, supinator, or pronator), I am a supinator and found it helped to run in trainers accommodate my style. You don’t have to spend a fortune but it’s worth knowing more about the kind of feet you have. This is a great link for helping you to choose your running shoe type.

For women, a good sports bra is essential, ideally with shock absorbers.


4. Fueling your runs

When I run distances, I try to consume larger meals two hours before, normally with plenty of complex/starchy carbs. This will allow time to digest and in turn use the fuel in the food to aid with your run. If you don’t get chance to eat a larger meal then not to worry. On the occasions when I don’t get chance, I eat simple sugars such as wine gums or chocolate. This takes a lot less time to break down but still gives you the carbs/energy to support your run.

For those of you looking to shed a few lbs when training, a really good time to eat is immediately after your run, the reason being is your metabolism is still flying so you will consume your food a lot quicker than normal. The only issue with this is your run would then be a ‘fasted run’, so be careful you’re not leaving yourself short of fuel.

In terms of hydration, you really can’t go far wrong with good old fashioned water! However, for those sports scientists amongst us, I’d recommend a drink with electrolytes in as when you perspire you lose electrolytes (salt etc) so these drinks will replenish. I like to eat gels when running half marathons, this too offers a quick burst of energy and can be found cheap enough online.

One word of advice – some people find their stomachs are sensitive to energy gels and it can make them need the toilet, so try them out during training, rather than taking one for the first time on event day.


5. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down

This is often a major factor that is missed or forgotten about, yet is vital for improved performance, reduction of injury, and recovery!


As your body is stone cold, avoid static stretching. Instead make sure you build some dynamic stretching into your warm-up. Dynamic stretching means stretching using larger muscle movements whereas a static stretch is normally a pause and hold stretch. Dynamic stretching is much better for preparing you for your run.


Although you may feel you’ve exercised enough, try to cool down with a brisk walk or a gentle jog, This will help with your recovery, otherwise you’ll get lactic acid build up which causes you to ache the following day (it’s called DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

These are my top tips for runners – but remember there is no right or wrong way to do it. One thing that is for sure though, the more you put in to it (your training) the more you’ll get out of it. Gradually build your distance, and even if you don’t actually manage to get to the full 10K while training, if you have prepared properly then your adrenaline on the day will most definitely get you over the line.


Five-week training plan to take your 5K to a 10K

You still have time to get ready for the Cardiff Bay 10K. Here’s Lee’s advice on what to do between now and then – this running plan ups the distance more quickly than you would if you had more time to train, but it’s still do-able in time for the end of March. Try to run three times a week with a rest day between runs.

Week 1 – 5K 5K 6K

Week 2 – 5K 6K 7K

Week 3 – 5K 6K 8K

Week 4 – 5k 7K 9K

Week 5 – 7K 9K (REST for a minimum of two days) 10K race day.


Visit The Red Dragon Centre’s website here and Simply Gym’s website here.

You can sign up to the Cardiff Bay 10K here.


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