Through my high school days fitness was never a strength. I failed my pre-enlistment physical fitness test (I had imagined heart palpitations during the 2.4-kilometre run, and pulled my chin up the bar once), and served two more months in the army as a result. I played the occasional tennis match, yet turned to running when I dislocated my right shoulder a year into my National Service stint. I continued the habit because it was a good way to stay in shape, and to keep my mind off everything for the distance. And to explore the neighbourhood around and within the university.
On a whim I signed up for the Standard Chartered Marathon in December, when I completed my summer internship in July. It was going to be tough, the full marathon, but it was on the bucket list after all. I downloaded a 16-week running plan off the Internet (which called for four running sessions a week, of increasing durations), read up a little on dietary tips, and assured myself that this was just an extension of my weekly routine.
Two weeks ago, I panicked.
Before July (and when I was in Helsinki, Finland), I did weights on Tuesdays, weights and a five-kilometre run on Thursdays, and a ten-kilometre run on the weekends. Even with the new marathon plan I stuck to the old routine, too lazy to do additional runs or lengths. Besides avoiding alcohol and gummies (very unsuccessful for the latter) I did little to my diet. And even though I completed the Army Half-Marathon in two hours and 15 minutes I limped my way through the final kilometre. 42 kilometres will be a nightmare.
I love running. After a one- or two-hour run I feel great, and sleep well. Sometimes I get inspiration for work or for the blog during the run. Yet after a particular distance or time it becomes incredibly arduous. I start thinking about how parched my throat is, and whether I should ask the lady at the bus stop for a sip from her water bottle. My mind contemplates giving up and walking back home. My body berates me for signing up for such a silly exercise.
My friends say, “why you pay money to run, to suffer”?
I used to think that seasoned runners had it easy. Damn effortless la, they always made it seem. I mean after an extended period my body has coped with (some of) the exertion, but there are good and bad days. On the bad days when I drag myself through the course there is nothing on my mind, except the desire to complete the remaining kilometres as soon as possible.
So this will be my first and only marathon (if I do complete it, that is). Those with the will and endurance to college multiple marathons – particularly those who derive enjoyment – are of another breed. In the meantime the haze has forced me to run on the treadmill, and throughout the last week I managed to do 26 kilometres. Still a little off the mark, in terms of sticking to the training plan, though I hope it will eventually be enough to see me through the finish line.