‘Why am I here? What on earth have I gotten myself into? I want to go back to bed NOW!’
Those were some of the anxious thoughts racing through my head at 4:30 last Sunday morning. Instead of being fast asleep, I was wide awake in the darkness along with a legion of 4000 lady runners at Blue Bay Walk in Macapagal Highway, Manila.
As excited as I was for my first half-marathon, I was also incredibly terrified.
I was terrified of giving up. I was terrified that I was going to suffer heat stroke in this sweltering Manila heat. I was terrified that I was going to fall and make a fool out of myself while running (which actually happened, but eventually my bruised leg and ego healed).
Several months of dedicated training all culminated to this very event: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Manila. At the crack of dawn, we were to run 21 kilometers across Cavitex all the way to Island Cove, Cavite.
To a casual runner to like myself, running a half-marathon was seemingly impossible at first. But somehow (and even if it definitely didn’t feel that way on the day itself), I managed to conquer it.
Here are the five lessons that got me through the most physically challenging experience of my life.
5. Discipline can sometimes be more important than raw talent.
When I first started running regularly at the weekly Nike Run Club , I barely completed 5km without feeling like I was about to faint. Instead of beating myself up for it, I made a commitment to myself to stick to what I had committed to accomplish: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. And this is probably true with achieving many large feats in life: focus
After one month of consistent training, I was able to complete the same pace at 10km without feeling like my lungs were about to burst. I also made sure to incorporate other form of workouts such as strength, circuit, and yoga at least 4-5 times per week.
It’s much easier to call off a workout session when you’re working out alone, but with a buddy joining you, it adds that healthy dose of external pressure. You become each other’s source of positivity, motivation, and support (and kwentuhan, of course). Aika, my workout buddy, made it it easier to survive it all and kept my spirits up all throughout.
3. Preparation is key: diet & shoes really matter too!
Needless to say, preparing for a long-distance running is required. Aside from having a training guide, it’s crucial to prepare holistically: everything from eating the right foods – down to your last meal (and its timing) to choosing the right workout gear to ensure a hassle-free marathon all throughout.
I bought a new pair of shoes. Imagine how your poor feet must feel after three hours of non stop jogging/running? I ended up buying the Nike Flex 2016 for the marathon, but I noticed many other runners were sporting flyknits.
I learned about the importance of loading up on carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables at least 2-4 hours before the race.
Coach Jerico Ejercito also shared the need to start eliminating processed and junk foods as early as possible from your diet because this tires us more easily.
2. Go the extra mile. NEVER give up.
On several occasions after the 11K mark, I just wanted to quit. By that time, the sun was out already so the sweltering heat was no friend of mine.
It was not only a physical challenge, but also a mental battle. I realized that it’s easy to stop and give up when your body is telling you that you just can’t do it anymore. I learned that part of achieving any major feat involves knowing that you’re eventually going to feel like giving up, but ensuring you have the willpower and resources to move forward when that time occurs.
What kept me pushing me to just keep on running despite the pain and fatigue, was remembering all the hard work that was invested from the training. I didn’t want to let it go for nothing. Each step was a little closer to victory, and it was only entirely up to me to complete it.
1. Crossing the finish line = worth it.
If you ever felt a runner’s high after a good run, imagine how it feels after a half-marathon.
In my experience, nothing can beat that surge of adrenaline when you finally see the finish line ahead of you. The last 3 kilometers of the marathon felt like the longest 3KM of my life. However, once I spotted that elusive finish line, I completely forgot about the pain and gave it everything I had. Every inch of strength that was left in me was focused on crossing that finish line.
The next thing I remember, I was jumping up and down and hugging my buddy right after.
I’m a different person now compared to when I had started, I definitely feel healthier and more confident about myself. And I love knowing that I am capable of doing greater things.
As you can imagine, the energy at the finish line was certainly infectious. Everyone in the area was exhausted, but smiling from ear-to-ear: we finally completed it and it was definitely worth it!
And getting an awesome finisher’s pendant didn’t hurt as well.