1. Never underestimate uncles and aunties! You just might end up eating their dust. They may be older, but they can outrun you and outdo you in terms of stamina and sheer staying power.
2. Be on time! If the flag-off time of a run — fun run or marathon (or anything in between) is stated to be 7 a.m., it will be at 7 a.m. so you better be there a good half hour, at the very least, beforehand.
3. You’re never too old to start/try something new. I used to run on and off but only got seriously into it when I was *gasp* approaching 42 years old. Let me tell you something — that feeling when you outrun kids more than half your age? Absolutely priceless! :D
4. You never know what you are capable of doing until you give it a try. So far, I’ve done many 5 km runs, with the farthest being 10 km, to date. Me? The wimpy kid who’d pass out after standing too long under the sun during school assembly? Now capable of doing 10 km runs?! If someone told me back then that I’d be able to run 5 km for leisure on a weekend or have a “quick” 2 km jog around the neighbourhood, I would have laughed hysterically at the ‘absurd idea’.
5. A little progress is better than no progress at all. As the Malays say, sikit-sikit, lama-lama, jadi bukit, literally “little by little, after some time, (small efforts) add up into a mountain”. When I first started running, my lungs felt like bursting within the first minute. But I just kept at it — running as far as I can, then walking briskly to catch my breath and allow my heartbeat to ease a bit, rinse, repeat. Before I knew it, I could do 1 km, 2 km, 5 km…
6. Sometimes, you fall off the wagon. You miss a run or two. Then an entire month goes by, with your running shoes accumulating dust instead of mileage. But you know what? You can always start back again, even if it means starting again from zero. As a friend used to say “Just shut up and run”!
7. Listen to your body. It is normal to feel some discomfort when you first run, usually because of incorrect technique or posture. Read up, ask the pros, use ice packs/hot packs after your runs, and see if things get better. HOWEVER, there are some other types of pain that you just cannot ignore. Know your limits, and if you get injured, respect your body’s need to recover. Case in point: I had recurrent heel pain but I chose to ignore it until the day I ended up hobbling in pain. Turns out I had plantar fasciitis. It took almost a year for the pain to fully go away and for me to slowly start running again. Thank God, I’m healed now. Lesson learned the hard way.
8. Someone will always be faster/stronger/better. Even if you run with the speed of a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter, you’re infinitely better than all the couch potatoes in the world combined.
9. Fancy gear won’t make you a runner nor make you run faster/better/stronger. The only thing you really need to invest in is proper running outfit — well-fitting running shoes and sportswear that remain comfortable no matter how much you sweat.
10. Running will, at the very least, teach you how to estimate distance. I used to simply stare blankly when my husband would describe a turnoff to be 100 meters away. Now, when Waze tells me to keep left in 200 meters then turn right in 100 meters, I can now gauge the distance, thanks to running. Here’s how it happens — when you’re running and panting and absolutely dying to have a drink of water, and the road signs indicate that the next water station is in 100 meters, multiply that experience several times, and very soon, your body will be able to tell, more or less, how far 100 meters is!