It was my first run. It was 10 kilometers. And I made it under 1 hour.
Before I used to wonder why people run/jog because I thought it’s a boring sport. I would rather go play football, basketball, badminton, or table tennis. But alas, these sports need a lot of resources (players, fields, courts, etc.) to get you started. So when our office had the biggest loser contest last April and playing regular football was a luxury, I decided to try my hands, er feet, at running. It was journey, that started literally slow in May, which had brought me to the 10K RunUnited finish line at 58 minutes and 13 seconds last October 5, 2014. By the way, I shed a few pounds along the way also.
Here’s how you could do it also (from a beginner’s perspective).
1. Practise punctuality.
It’s just one of those very few mornings when you need to wake up before the roosters crow. Be on time. It’s better if you can make it at the start of the assembly time. I was fortunate enough to arrive early for my 4am assembly time (since I accompanied my running companion, Earl, whose 21K run assembly time was at 3am.) I avoided being crowded out at the start and I was able to run at my desired pace.
You would also avoid being stressed out for arriving late and having the possibility of not making the cut-off for your group. I saw more than a dozen 21K runners who were already running even before the starting line because their race already started minutes ago. What’s worse, I also saw at least 3 21K runners who were asked to join the 10K runners because they arrived very late.
2. Practise proper diet and time your bathroom breaks
Be sure that you have the fuel to last for many kilometers. Since it’s early morning and you would not probably have time to eat breakfast, munch something that could fill your stomach. For me, I ate a bar of chocolate before the run to give me some energy. The flipside of eating? Going to the bathroom. Go to the bathroom before you leave the house. I saw some runners who were queuing up in the portalets mid-run. Breaks like these would definitely add a few minutes to your time and break your momentum.
3. Practise trying to hit your goal before the run to know your pace
Before the run, the time of my last 3 10K practice runs were 1:18, 1:12, and 1:03. I found out that I’m usually slow on my 3rd to 6th kilometers. This is where I usually have my occasional ‘walks’. I realized that it’s hard to me to break the pattern at this stage. So I decided to run faster on my 1st and 2nd kilometers and to push myself not to succumb to laziness on my slow kilometers. Knowing your pace also would make you avoid getting discouraged when a number of runners overtakes you. It’s their pace. Worry about yours. Every second counts. The breakdown of my runs by kilometers:
TOTAL Time: 58:13
By the end of my slowest kilometer, 6K, I still have 53 seconds of “baon” time because of my effort during the 1st-3rd kilometers. I was able to add up to this “baon” time by having my second wind starting at the 7th kilometers onwards.
4. Practice with a timer or an app that monitors your pace
If you have the resources, it would be better if you invest on devices that track your pace. A stopwatch or a simple water-resistant watch will do. You just need a device to track your time. For me, I downloaded a runnig app on my low-end android phone that I carry whenever I run.
5. Practise with a friend who is serious about running.
It’s always better to practise with friends who has experience in joining runs. They would push you to train harder and give you advice on where to improve. They know their stuff since they’ve been there before. For a newbie, it’s always better to heed the words of the experienced. For me, I got lucky to have an officemate and duathlete Earl Guzman who have joined numerous races already and who gave me tips on the proper pacing especially when I was just starting out last May, 2014.
6. Practise with an organized run in mind.
Sign-up on one of the many organized runs. Check takbo.ph or runrio.com for the list of runs in Manila. It would give you added motivation to practise more and improve your time. It would make you conscious also to properly schedule your practice runs to keep you in shape for your official run.
And lastly, when all else fails…
7. Practise. Practise. Practise. Practise. Practise. Practise. Practise. (repeat from the beginning)
You may not be on time, you need to pee mid-run, you don’t know your pace, you don’t have an app (what’s that?), you run alone, etc. But if you practise regularly, none of these matters.
There’s no substitute for practise. As one of the saying I heard in college: “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle”. To add, here a line from one of the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali: “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
So even before the gun start, if you’ve done your homework, you know you’ll finish strong.
Here’s more: celebrity runners (…and they’re fast.)
I thought my time was good enough. But I was surprised that there were a number of female runners that finished ahead of me. Notable of which was Kapatid actress Valeen Montenegro (below, 1st from left with coach and celebrity runner Iya Villania) who clocked in at 56:42. Awesome. Simply awesome. Such dedication is worth emulating. It is worthy to note also that we were just in the same row in the starting line but after the 3rd kilometer, she and the coach were already way ahead. It was then I realized that I still need more practice. Faster runners really inspire other runners to follow their lead. If they can do it, why can’t we?