Life lessons from a (half) marathon

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

So last night I ran my first half marathon – 21.1km of the Sundown Marathon.


I was feeling a little nervous prior to the run because I wanted to complete the run without stopping. The last time I ever ran anything close to a half marathon was almost a decade ago when I was on the school’s cross-country team.

I was only signed up for the run quite late (about three weeks before) when I was offered a spot to take part, so I didn’t have time to train. It also didn’t help that I travelled extensively in the month of May (4 trips, 3 countries, 3 weeks). Hence, my aim was to just complete the half marathon without stopping.


The good news is – I finished the 21.1 kilometres without stopping and the better news is – I ran it in about 2 hours 7 minutes plus, which I feel is a pretty decent time considering I didn’t train!



While running and willing myself to carry on, I realised there were many things I could relate life to and so I just want to share some life lessons that I discovered through this marathon:

Life is just like a marathon!

1) It’s always tough in the beginning.

Whatever you start, be it a new relationship or a new project at work, there’s bound to be kinks that need smoothing out. In such mass runs, you spend most of time jostling with sweaty others in the crowd, trying to find spaces to overtake. Be careful of your pace and don’t end up going too fast at the start trying to get ahead of as many as you can; just like how in life you need to be patient and not rush for instant success.

2) No matter how hard you work, there will always be others ahead of you.

You can run your heart out and push yourself really hard, but there will always be people in front.

3) Ultimately, it all boils down to yourself – it’s all mental.

The last quarter of the run was toughest on the mind for me. I could still feel my legs and it wasn’t like I was going to die, but it was just boring. People were starting to slow down and walk, and I admit that thought did cross my mind fleetingly. But I told myself not to give up, especially not after getting this far! Likewise, people around you may discourage you or tell you to give up, but you listen to yourself.

4) It’s the journey, not the destination.

Running without stopping is not the problem; it’s having to jostle with the sweaty crowds, look for spaces to overtake, accelerate and decelerate abruptly – obstacles that you face along the way. Just remember, it doesn’t matter how slowly you go or how challenging it gets, as long as you do not stop! With life, it’s the same too – it’s not about completing the task but how you complete it.

5) There will always be others who are having it worse than you.

You may not feel your legs anymore, your heart feels like it’s gonna burst out of your chest, but remember, there’s someone out there who feels worse than you. So don’t give up!

6) You’re not alone.

Regardless of which point you are at during the run, there will always be someone there. Be it a fellow participant, a marshal or even a random passer-by (who thinks we are mad for running at that hour)! So no matter how hard it gets, you’re not alone!


On an additional note, I would like to congratulate my girlfriend Daphne on completing her first 10km run in her life. She was so nervous, worried and scared before the race and I kept telling her it’s gonna be alright! Just go with the flow and listen to your body. If you really can’t take it then stop, but usually in such mass runs where there are people all around, you will have that added motivation to keep going. It was also good that she had her hubby running with her. Well done girlfriend!


Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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