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What I learnt from running 100km a week



Any significant milestone in an endurance athlete’s career is the achievement of a century of mileage in a single week and it is no mean feat. Since my last post in May, I buckled down and made it a point to attempt to condition my body and my mind to hit this milestone – and to live to tell the tale.


During these difficult times, so much has changed and with it sometimes comes a sense of hopelessness and fear of stepping out of our homes for fear of catching the virus. The news headlines are littered with countries entering lock-down and then opening up again just to become embroiled with new cases and are in immediate threat of locking down again. The economy has suffered, people are losing hope and all of this affects in so many ways with long term repercussions we have yet to understand.


The context? Now more than ever before, we need hope or most importantly, we need to re-discover ourselves to become our better versions to prepare for what’s ahead. Sounds easy but I would be the first one to share that when Singapore entered a semi lock-down, that there was a sense of the unknown that haunted me at the back of my mind. Practically everything came to a standstill, going out was difficult and training was proving to be a fruitless endeavour without any races to look forward to.


What changed?


Without anything to look forward to, my training suffered during the first month and there was a real danger of falling off the path. It required me to question the true purpose of the effort I was putting into all of this and what I was truly chasing. It became clear to me that my espoused vision and my vision in use had grown so far apart that I needed to re-consolidate and re-focus myself.


Accept the hard facts


The first thing I had to accept was that I was not going to race for at least another year and subconsciously, somehow, all of the work I was putting into myself had become skewed towards a measurable outcome of a finisher medal instead of a deeper intrinsic one. Funny how these things happen when we don’t reflect on the why enough.


Accepting the hard facts will bring us back to reality and requires us to re-focus on the why

In order to get better, I had to re-discover the fun in the process, something that had also somehow gotten away from me in the past year as I was chasing PBs and became a little too fixated on results. Strange how such fixations actually drain us more than we imagine.


What I learned from building up to 100km


1. Slow is good and sometimes lovely – When I started running slow with the intent of going far, I noticed how much around me I was missing. The sights and sounds that we never notice when we rush through life, the greenery, the sun-rise and sometimes the sunsets that define beauty. An appreciation of all these blessings around us remind us of how fortunate we still all are despite these tough times and a reminder that we have to keep moving forward regardless of the circumstances.


2. Keep moving forward – Clocking 100km a week is not easy because it requires a concerted effort to wake up each day and to hit the road and on some days, the body doesn’t cooperate. These are the days that define us and I’m starting to understand the importance of the struggle. Having to walk when your body can’t move anymore is better than not having started at all. This applies to real life and it is always about one foot in front of the other – Always.


3. It is hardest before a breakthrough – In the weeks leading up to this milestone, there were days when my feet would hurt, my calves would be strained, my quads would be cramping and my blisters would be tearing under the soles of my feet. Again, keep moving forward and it truly is tough before a breakthrough. I guess life has a way of testing how much we really want something and if we want it bad enough, we’d be willing to bleed for it.


4. The importance of re-alignment – I’ve had to realign myself many times and remind myself of the why. Without understanding the why, the mind and body will often work against us because there is no reason to do otherwise. I wrote my why in my phone, in my notebook and on a sticky in my laptop and made sure to read it every night. Gentle reminders are so helpful on days when we are stressed, angry, disappointed and when life doesn’t want to cooperate with us.


5. Smile and smile often – I realised the power of a smile during the long runs. It doesn’t occur naturally and it takes quite a bit for us to send that signal from the brain to our face to smile. But what a wonderful action that is and I’ll never underestimate it again. The immediate positive emotion from such a simple action when the going gets tough truly fuels so much more than tired legs. It also fuels a tired mind to shut out the all the negativity that might be creeping in.


6. Pay it forward – That’s why I started this blog. To share my learning and hopefully whoever reads this will obtain new and possibly better experiences from my own. That is my contribution to the world.


Let us remind ourselves daily that each day is a blessing and we cannot control what has happened in the past or what will happen tomorrow. Instead, focus on the now and seizing each moment while we continuously adjust ourselves to align with our espoused vision. That is my sharing and hopefully this post will benefit anyone of you who are seeking for your own meaning in the things you do daily.


Onward.



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