1. Your first pair of favorite running shoes.
It’s the one that you’d wear to death and try to source for an exact same pair to replace the old ones. Wearing this pair makes you feel like your muscles are never going to tire. My first pair of running shoes ever was from the ASICS Gel-Nimbus series and I was completely sold. I’ve tried those fancy, lightweight Nike ones and UA models that let you “feel the ground,” but they were never as comfortable and well-cushioned as the ASICS ones. So now, I swear by ASICS shoes and only run in them.
2. Your first official race.
One that you registered and paid for; one that is organised with race pack collection and after-race carnival. In those runs, you feel the adrenaline of fellow runners rubbing shoulders with yours. Your surroundings become a collection of cheers from overeager (or sometimes half-hearted) volunteers, the rapid shuffling of feet as people pushed forward in waves, and the pounding of blood against your temple. The best ones I’ve had quite typically include the ECP route, where there’s the smell of seawater and a slight salty taste.
3. Your first finisher’s medal.
It’d make you swell with pride because you have earned it with your sweat and crying muscles. You had the courage to sign up for an official race (whether you had a proper training plan or not), the conviction to arrive at the start point in the wee hours and the tenacity to run (or walk) all the way to the finish line. Finishing a run is a prime example of earning your own reward.
4. Your first 10km run.
You’ve reached a turning point, in which you decide that you’ve outgrown 5km and are ready for a longer distance run. Of almost twice the distance?! But still, you feel that you could just pick up the distance of your training runs and you’re good to go. This is a significant progressive step as a runner.
5. Your first half marathon at Standard Chartered Marathon.
Everyone raves about it! And it’s The Run of the Year. At least that was how I felt when I did mine in 2012. Besides, it is my favorite race to this day for numerous reasons. For starters, the route was interesting and well-organised. The good 10km is within USS itself! No narrow crossings or intensely boring pathways, those with trees flanking the sides.
6. Your first 42.195km marathon run.
Mine was a harrowing yet transformational experience. It was the first time I experienced a searing pain from just putting one foot ahead of the other. From smugly running the first 21km or so to barely making it through the last few kilometres, you’d appreciate having a strong heart and legs more, and learn the importance of taking care of yourself.
7. Your first night run.
I did mine with Sundown Marathon back in 2013 and I ran till sunrise. It weighs down on your constitution a great deal – you’re going against your biological system and forcing your body to work instead of rest, and that itself can severely wear out your energy stores. Unlike any other run, it takes training to have a decent run and even more training to finish strong.
8. Your first running club membership.
It can be a surreal experience because before that you probably hardly meet people with the same voracious appetite for running and races. Now, you meet people who discuss about clocking 100km per week, investing in yet another Garmin watch and brainstorming new routes to explore together. I can go on about how running is addictive because it is unbelievably helpful in clearing my head. Talk about having similar interests.
9. Your first injury.
Mine never amounted to anything serious; it was more an aggregation of numerous overworking and minor sprains and knee pains. Still, it should be taken seriously. A strong pair of legs can carry you everywhere – up the stairs at work, while doing household chores and running errands before the New Year. Waiting for a serious injury that would impair you is the worse time to start taking care of yourself.
10. Outperforming your personal best.
That’s an ongoing challenge and it keeps you excited about running, but the first time it happens, you validate yourself and your ability to achieve what you work hard for.
Hope this serves as a proper hello from me to the JRL readers!