Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.
~ Oprah Winfrey
When I just started running, finishing a full marathon the whole 42.195 kilometres, was unthinkable. I started running in 2010, because I had ‘Run a 10K’ on my 43things list. After that first race I was hooked. I met many new runner friends, ran more races, joined a running group, and slowly built up my mileage. In January 2011 I broke my left feet metatarsal (the outermost bone of the feet between the pinky toes & heels). Not because of running, hiking, or anything – but because I fell down the stairs at home. I stopped running for about 3 months – and slowly build it up again. After that I finished my first half marathon at the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon in December 2011. And then I managed to make my husband join a 5K race, and he’s also hooked to running ever since. Running became an activity we do together, and running with someone we love is much more fun.
After finishing a few more half marathons, I decided to do a full marathon. For a runner a full marathon distance is an important milestone. A bragging right. So yes I am a marathoner, albeit a slow one. I finished my first marathon at the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014 last November. I wasn’t training properly due to my yoga teaching, training, and travel schedule. I managed to squeeze some long runs, I decided I would just run happy only aiming to finish under 6 hours. And I managed to do it, I finished in 5 hours 47 minutes, so I was quite happy.
Second full marathon is Tokyo Marathon this February. My preparation for the Tokyo Marathon hasn’t been that good either. And I just get back from extended travelling to Dubai & India with only 2 days gap before flying to Tokyo. Anyway again I don’t set time target except that I want to finish under 6 hours, I’m just gonna run happy and finish happy.
Non-runner friends ask me “Aren’t you bored during running?”
Nope, I’m not bored during running. Well at the beginning I did need distractions to run, I had to listen to music during my runs, both on treadmills and outdoors. But as I run more often I actually enjoy running more when I listen to my breath and focus on my body when I run instead of listening to the music. So I don’t listen to music when I run anymore.
When I run with friends, I enjoy the conversations during the run. Talking with someone during runs help me check my effort level too – if I can still speak short sentences that means I’m OK. If I can speak long sentences comfortably that means I’m too slow, and if I’m so breathless that I can’t speak at all that means I’m too fast.
When I run alone, and that’s the case during a race or training in the track, I think of my running like meditation. Sometimes I say the mantra Om silently with each exhale. Sometimes I contemplate during the run. Sometimes I just witness the mind thinking during the run. Sometimes I concentrate on my breath. Sometimes I focus on how my body feels. Sometimes I talk to myself.
I think running plays a role in strengthening my discipline and willpower. Running breaks inertia, reducing tamasic tendency, instilling a ‘go for it, just do it’ attitude. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lazy, I just do it to get it over and done with. But more often after a few minutes of running I actually enjoy the running itself. The more often I won over the lazy self, the stronger my willpower become.
Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.
~Doris Brown Heritage
Now running has become so much part of me I have to do it, rain or shine. I bring my running clothes and shoes when I’m travelling and try go for short runs, and it’s a good way to check out new places too.
I finished my second full marathon the Tokyo Marathon yesterday, got a new PB (personal best) of 5:31:17. Happy!
Some tips to get started running:
- run with friends or family – join a running group or get people around you to run together
- get proper running shoes
- start slow and build up distance & speed slowly. Most injury happens when we try to do too much too soon
- besides running do other activities that increase strength & flexibility. Eg yoga, pilates, strength training, etc.
- stay hydrated – bring water along or bring some money to buy
- use sports tracking app to track the trainings & keep the motivation up. I use Nike+ app.
- register yourself to 5K or 10k running race, ideally still 2-3 months away. The race will provide motivation to train
Some running resources:
- Runnersworld – the complete runners’ resources
- No Meat Athlete – Vegan & Vegetarian running & fitness resources
Related post within this blog:
- Caught the running bug
- New year with a broken bone
- Less than a month before my first half-marathon
- First half marathon