Completing my First Half Marathon

Posted on March 9, 2017

Two months ago, my coworker challenged me to join him and run the NYCRUNS Central Park Half Marathon. I thought he was crazy. Up until this point, I've never been able to run more than 1.5 miles, and all of a sudden I need to run 13.1 miles in two months. However, in the spirit of the New Year's resolution, there was a part of me that wanted to embrace the challenge and thought that this was the opportunity I needed to give myself a kick in the butt. I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. So I accepted the challenge, and I am very glad that I did.

The Training

How the hell does one go from barely running 1.5 miles to 13.1 miles in two months? I began researching for a bit and found that training plans like this 12-week half marathon training plan do exist. I adapted this 12 week plan to my needs and made it an 8 week plan.

Below is the result of my training:

Training Regimen

In the first two weeks, the purpose is to get used to the breathing of running. They designed the schedule so that the weekday of the main event is the day to do the big runs. In my case this is a Sunday. Each week's big run day gets incremented until the main event. The day before the big run should have a light run. The runs during the week is mostly to maintain good running condition. There are two rest days to ensure adequate rest of joints and muscles.

On the first week, running three miles was challenging. I usually stopped midway because I had trouble breathing or that I experienced side cramps that made it difficult to run longer. These problems eventually went away the more I ran.

Weeks 2-4 were drastically easier than Week 1. Once I opened up my breathing capacity, running 3 miles wasn't very different from running 6 miles.

Weeks 5-8 became increasingly difficult. The main hindrance was that I experienced joint and hip pain that would not stop persisting. Eventually, I had to stop most of my running activities in the later weeks to heal my joints because I knew I wouldn't be able to run 13.1 miles with those problems.

The Marathon

On February 26, 2017, I finished the NYCRUNS Central Park Half Marathon in 2 hours and 48 minutes. I'm proud to say that I have finished a half marathon in my lifetime and am looking forward to the next one. You can find me in the race results.

While I didn't exactly run the whole way and I placed in the bottom 10% of racers, I had an awesome time. The race wasn't as important to me as the process of it all. Through the process, I've developed my self a lot, met a lot of great people, and started actively surrounding myself with positive influences. The marathon sparked a newfound optimism in my life which I had lost in the year before. Once I get my joints healed up, I can't wait to get back into running!

What I learned

Running has affected a lot of aspects in my life. Because I ran in the morning, I felt better about myself during the day. I paid more attention to nutrition, like what did I eat and when did I eat them. I discovered music I typically didn't listen to before. My listening skills improved a lot with the help of running. I have become more self-confident. These are just a few small byproducts that made my life better.

What I really learned are the important lessons that changed my outlook in problem solving and in accomplishing the bigger things in life.

The Importance of Good Planning

I used to hear stories of people doing superhuman feats in marathons, and I never thought I could be one of those guys. The biggest misconception was that marathon running was all about brute force willpower. It wasn't willpower that got me the 8 miles on week 4, but the execution of a plan for success.

I learned that if I want to be successful in life, willpower alone will not get me there. I have to first identify a vision or goal of where I want to be and then identify a proper plan of success to execute. A proper plan of success also means to set reasonable expectations. It was not reasonable for me to run 4 or 5 miles in the first week, while the following weeks of incremental increases were reasonably challenging.

Plans Change

In my training, I had days where it rained, or days when I didn't feel good. While a good plan provides structure, blindly following a plan is not always good. I have to use common sense and good judgment to know how to adapt to the situation.

I decided not to continue training in the later weeks because running more made my joints worse. In my judgment, it was better to rest and heal the joints than to continue running and potentially causing permanent joint damage. I also bought some shock absorber soles and a knee brace to lessen joint impact temporarily.

The Influence of Positive Support

At the end of the day, I was the main driver and motivator, and the onus was on me to create my own success. However, having the support of family, friends, and colleagues not only made this whole experience easier, but also made it more rewarding and fun. Surrounding myself with positive influences and taking advantage of their energy motivated me more to keep going.

I want to give thanks to all the friends and people who cheered me on and who gave me running advice. I also want to give special thanks to these people:

Ending Note

A half-marathon in two months is not as impossible as it seems. If I was able to do it, then I know anyone can do this. Maybe your goal isn't to do a marathon, but I hope that you can take what I've learned and apply it to your needs.

Victory Pose with German and me