Why Long Distance Running?


Do you know why I stuck to long distance running?

For someone with a difficulties in focusing for long periods and giving up too easily, long distance running forces me to not stop. There is an achievement from seeing yourself clock mileage. It doesn’t require that much discipline or strength as compared to racing against time. It allows for slip-ups, because you can still get back on track after skipping a run or 2.

Running is an individual sport, through and through. Which was why, this year, I signed up for half marathon with 2XU all on my own. It’s my first run alone. I needed to see myself stand on my own feet, to accomplish a feat I call my own. Running helps me fight for what I want, on my own. Because no one else can fight for you.

I always get backlash when I pay ~$50 for a run I can do on my own. They don’t understand that it’s an entirely different experience when you invest in a run. You see tangible results. You train for it. There is a goal you work towards to.

My goal this year was under 2h30min, under 7min/km.

The run.

Looking back at the 2 odd hours during the half marathon on 2 March 2014, Sunday, I never felt so good about myself during my run.

At the first couple of km, my body amazed me when I felt how light my strides was. I couldn’t feel my energy draining. I felt… Invincible. I was running at 5:48min/km.

The next 10km, I surprised myself with bouts of energy that I used to run past people who stopped or slowed down. I knew I couldn’t stop or slow down; it would jeopardize the rest of my run. Instead, I chanted my mantra “light, light, light” to force me to remember how powerful I felt at the beginning of the race. I straightened my posture and engaged a different running muscle. Already, I was proud of myself for not feeling any muscle strain even till now. My regular training helped. Even my knees were acting less frequently than I was worried about. It helped when I stop for a drink—all thanks to regular training that helped me discover what worked for my worrisome knees. Those knee aches are caused by the repetitive running motion, so I just needed to break the cycle.

My challenge came at the last 5km. By now, my pace was dropping. I tried to use the above tactics but I just couldn’t pick up speed. I remember this turning point because it was when WL texted me. His message tone was unmistakable. It was like electricity charging through my bloodstream.

As I saw the finishing line, I extended my strides. I looked at the clock and I knew I was so close to 2h30min. I knew I couldn’t let all that race preparation come to waste. So I ran. I ran as fast as my legs could take me, with whatever energy I had left in my bank.

And I did it.

I accomplished my goal. I was overcome with relief and so much joy that the tears were forming in my eyes. I couldn’t stop smiling at myself, even if it was to myself. For someone who has failed in virtually every goal she has set for herself, this half marathon goal is her proudest tangible achievement.

The proud moment.

My proud medal and I. I wished I took a proper victorious pose, but I was feeling too enervated to budge. I’ll have to make do with these…

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Because Ben left and Rod was still running, I waited for Lincoln to finish his 10km run, so that I could have a victorious pose with someone. I had to take with him, because it was he that set me up for 2XU, 2 years back!

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My performance.

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To thank.

Of course, I’m extremely thankful for them, in order of importance:

1. my legs

Every time I run past my comfort threshold, I cannot help but feel thankful for the legs that I am born with who’ll bring me to the edges that I thought I could never reach. They are my life’s proudest body parts. I like to think that if one day, something happens to them and I lose my mobility, I’d end my life for them.

2. my knees

You weren’t as problematic as I anticipated. I’ll treat you better in future.

3. Rod

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Rod has been ever so accommodating and encouraging. Running 10 odd kilometres with me at such a snail speed doesn’t help him in his marathon training at all, yet he so willingly agreed to run with me and accommodate to my often unpredictable timings and mood swings. Without him, I probably would not have done half of the running plans I set myself to do. It helped that we have similar goals and interest in running and in health.

I’m pretty particular about my running buddy. I’ve got all these demands about a buddy—not too fast that you’re playing catch-up the whole time you’re running, not too slow that he/she becomes a liability instead of a motivator,… (yeah… I could come up with a whole list). Most importantly, the feel must be right.

I’m thankful that I’ve found the right running fit (on top of my favourite sports bra, shorts, socks and shoes). I would give him a certificate of commendation if I could.

4. Ben

Him and his motto: “don’t stop”. Thankful he was there during my race prep and for waking me up so that I’m less lonely in the hours before the run.

5. the weather

We flagged off at 5am. That’s 40 minutes before the previous year. Although I could not get a good sleep since I have to wake up at 3.30am (on top of tossing and turning in my bed and head) on the actual day, I did not have to experience the relentless heat of the sun beating down on me. Running at night with Rod helped, since we were running in before dawn, sans streetlamps. 

My training records.

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I diligently kept to them because I know I will look back and see the results that I’d sown. It acted as a springboard for me to reflect on my performance and improve with each run.

The celebration.

So WL and I walked to Symmetry Cafe to celebrate the completion of my half marathon.

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They had pretty exterior decorations that we couldn’t help but whip out our cameras to capture them.

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I ordered Eggs Benedict and he ordered Big Breakfast. The meal is really big. On hindsight, I could have shared a meal with him.

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A post-run shot with him. Although he didn’t run with me, he never failed to wake up at dawn to make his way down to Nicoll Highway to celebrate with me and show his support this year and last.

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This time last year with my loyal supporter.

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Maybe I can rope him in to long distance running some time to come?

P.S. I’ll be updating with my actual records by 2XU and running shots once 2XU has uploaded them.

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2 thoughts on “Why Long Distance Running?

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