Assalamualaikum and good day everyone,
Yes, I know my blog has been a bit "dusty" as it has been quite long since I last posted anything here. So, now since I'm a bit unoccupied, I thought I wanted to share my thoughts about how my first year of running has panned out.
Firstly, I'm quite happy that (and a bit surprised actually) that I have transformed from a non-runner prior to August 2016 to now a half-marathoner. That being said, I still have a long way to go and lots more to improve in terms of my running, particularly in form, speed and endurance.
Ok, enough about me. Actually, why I wanted to write today was I wanted to share some of the things I've obtained and learned throughout my (almost) one year journey of running. So here goes....
1. Virtually Everyone Can Run
If our health condition in general is good, each of us can actually run quite long distances. In fact, in an article published in the New York Times in 2009, there is scientific evidence that supports the notion that humans are evolved to be runners. While a lot of mammals can run faster than humans, we humans can actually run longer distances than most of them. This is made possible due to how humans keep cool.
We keep cool by sweating, as opposed to panting. Thus, our body is more efficient at dissipating heat since heat is released through our skin instead of just our tongue like most animals. In fact, on a hot day, a human can even outrun a horse in a 42.2 kilometre marathon. However, I have to share a word of caution whereby we can't suddenly just wake up one day and decide "Hey, today I think I want to run a full marathon.", which brings me to my next point.
2. Respect The Distance, Respect The Training
Alhamdulillah, after one year into this sport of running, I managed to run up to almost 23 kilometres at one go (a combination of running and walking actually). However, this feat did not happen overnight. As I mentioned earlier, before 2016, I was never a runner, not even for fun or leisure purposes. Yes, I do enjoy doing other sports like swimming and futsal but it was never so frequent.
I joined my first run event in August 2016 which was the Standard Chartered KL Marathon, where I joined the 5 km event. The 5 km event was the shortest distance for people my age, but at that time I felt 5 kilometres was really a long distance since I've never done it before. I still remember my total time for the run at SCKLM was about 51 minutes in total (which was pretty slow actually) but I was really happy when I crossed the finish line.
After that run, I joined some other runs at short distances like 5, 6 kilometres then I progressed to 10 km and later 12 km. After doing a few 10k runs throughout 2016 and 2017, I told myself that I would join the half marathon which is approximately 21.1 kilometres in distance. Although the thought was daunting, I felt that I must progress upwards to become a better runner.
At first, I actually I wanted SCKLM 2017 (which just ended about 5 days ago when this article was written) to be my maiden or "virgin" half marathon. However, some friends said that I should join an earlier event in April 2017, just to have a feel of what a HM is. So, after much soul searching, I registered for the April event and ran my first HM there. My timing at the timing mat was about 3 hours 35 minutes, which is quite OK for a beginner at a total distance of 21.95 km. But, I actually targeted for 3:30 as this was the cutoff time for the SCKLM.
I received lots of words of encouragement from friends and family for my first HM, and it felt so surreal as I had never done it before, and now I have. But, I must admit it didn't come easy, as I did have some issues like muscle fatigue when I hit KM 18 of the run.
Then, came SCKLM 2017 where this was my second HM to date. I felt pretty confident and still targeting for 3:30 to better my timing from the earlier run. However, at the end of the it, I managed to only clock a time of 3:53 which was worse than my first HM outing. I felt a bit down due to the result, but now I truly understand the phrase "Respect the distance, respect the training". In order to perform well, we really have to train towards our goal. We can't just expect to join an event and hope for a good result without proper training. Insya Allah, I'll keep this in mind and improve further moving forward.
3. Everyone Has Their Own Pace and Ability
Yes, I do admit sometimes I feel pressured when I hear of people breaking their PB (that's personal best) at each running event or that they run at a faster pace compared to mine. However, when I come back to my senses, I'll tell myself that running is not about competing with other people, but rather it's just competing with yourself and improving your own performance.
So, just take those sneakers, wear them and go for a run, no matter how short or long the distance is, or how slow or fast your pace is. The most important thing is we keep improving OUR OWN performance.
4. A Good Support System Is Essential
As for me, my support system would be my wife who was the first person who coaxed me into running. She actually wanted us to join running events since January 2016, but I never really took notice until another person which is my colleague at work kept pestering me to sign up for SCKLM 2016. Since then, the rest is history and I've never looked back.
The other support system that I have is my Whatsapp group which consists of fellow runners from my alma mater, Sekolah Menengah Sains Tengku Abdullah or SEMESTA for short. This group consists of alumni from various batches from the class of 1987 up to 2015, where we call ourselves RUNSTA. For this, I have to thank my senior, Irfan Satria Ismail who invited me into the group after I posted some updates on SCKLM 2016. I still remember his words, "Congrats and jangan serik (don't be afraid to join again)." Indeed, looks like I'm not afraid at all in joining running events, in fact this year I came back to join SCKLM in a longer distance category. Indeed, I learned so much from the super seniors, seniors and juniors in RUNSTA, where I am still learning as we speak. Thanks so much for the friendship, support and camaraderie guys and girls.
That's why I say a good support system is essential, as this support system will help us to sustain our interest in running and hopefully learn more to become a better and stronger runner in the future. It's just like the saying "If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together".
Our family's medal collection - 30 medals in total (29 split in half between me and my wife, and 1 belongs to our son which he won during his Sports Day, for a running event as well hehe)
Before I sign off, I would like to express my appreciation to the following important people who have been part of my running journey:
1) My wife, Noor Azizi Salleh who was the first person who sparked my interest in running and my number one supporter.
2) My family, especially my mom Hjh Ruhana Muji and my aunt Hjh Hatipah Muji for supporting my passion, although sometimes they may not see the logic in what I'm doing haha...
3) My work colleague, Aimran Shah who was the person pestering me to join the pursuit of running, which I've never looked back since.
4) My RUNSTA senior, Irfan Satria Ismail for his support and advice, and especially for inviting me into RUNSTA. And oh, congrats on your first Full Marathon completed at SCKLM 2017. You're officially a marathoner bro!!
5) All my "siblings" at RUNSTA. Each and everyone of you have been great in sharing your knowledge and experience, not to mention wisdom in running where I continue to cherish and learn everyday from all of you.
Thank you all for reading and I also want to take this opportunity to wish everyone Selamat Menyambut Ramadan Al Mubarak. May all our good deeds be accepted by Allah SWT.
Till we meet again soon, Wassalam and keep on running...