The 10km is a fave amongst newbies and seasoned runners alike. It’s not so far that it makes you feel really intimidated but it’s far enough to be a real milestone. And let’s face it, running your first 10km is a pretty big deal.

Before your first big race, we got some insider tips from a seasoned pro. Saucony athlete Jonny Mathews has been running as long as he can remember and the 10km is his favourite distance (so he really knows his stuff). We spoke to him about a few little known tips and tricks to make your first double digit running race a huge success.

What would you recommend for a pre-run snack?

Before running I always like to have had something to eat. Best I’ve found is a banana – not too heavy and gives you heaps of energy. Also you can’t forget a good coffee (or cuppa) about an hour before the race, it’s the favourite fuel for a majority of distance runners around the world!

What practices do you include in your running training that we might not be using?

Drills and strides. Strides are simply quick running drills consisting of controlled acceleration to near maximal speed, sustaining that speed then controlling your deceleration back down, all within a 100m span. These will really help build running economy and get you running more comfortably at faster paces on race day

Is there an optimal amount of recovery to get during our training? Do we need more recovery towards the end of our training block?

It’s always wise to allow a decent amount of recovery between hard sessions or long runs. Depending on your training schedule, I always like to have at least 2 days between training sessions or those runs lasting over an hour. This allows you to recover adequately from the previous session, and make sure that you’re going into the next nice and fresh, ready to perform.

What’s your absolute favourite stretch?

Stretching the glutes! It hurts like crazy but it really frees up my gait. Sitting on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you, bend your right knee and place your right foot over your left quad. Reach your right arm behind you, and plant your palm or fingertips on the floor. Try to hold this for about 30 seconds, repeating 3 times on each leg.

Do you incorporate hill running, beach sprints, altitude training, cycling or circuit training in your regime?

I love to diversify my training. Not only does it allow my body to get stronger and help to prevent injury by working on different muscle groups, but it also keeps me mentally stimulated throughout a tough training block. In addition to any running I’m doing, I would typically try for two cross-training sessions a week. This might be a gym session, a swim or a couple of hours on the bike.

In terms of our race day wear, what should we be looking for?

Something comfortable! In regards to clothing, think lightweight and breathable. If you’re racing in cold weather, it can sometimes be a great idea to have a spare T-shirt to wear at the beginning of the race, then throw away once you’ve warmed up. As for shoes, fit is paramount. Get something that feels comfortable and won’t irritate. If times are what you’re looking for, then I would also recommend trying out a training or racing flat. These are typically lighter weight and can really help reduce fatigue in the latter stages of a race.