It seems like just a couple of years ago when I started running long distance, but actually it's been quite a long time since 2008. I can still remember the great achievement that I felt whenever I finished running 3km; and on a good day, I could even run up to 5km. I was like, wow!it made me feel invincible!
Then the Borneo International Marathon was organised that year, and that was the first time I found out that the full marathon was for a distance for 42.2 freakin' kilometres. I mean, who the hell would be crazy enough to actually run that distance? Dumb!
Yet, a friend convinced me to register for the half marathon (21.1km). I trained diligently for about 3 months. When I finally crossed the finish line on race day, I was on cloud 9. I felt like I had a long red cape on my back, and a huge letter S on my chest that day. And then suddenly the 42.2km didn't seem to be that ridiculous after all. In less than a year, I was already running the full marathon.
Over the years, I have gone on to run many more marathons, and I have also run a couple of ultra trail and road marathons of up to 100km long. As one would expect, the training for the ultra is very demanding. I was logging an approximate 200km per month, and for a period of about 2 months prior to the race day, I was logging significantly more mileage for training. Apart from a minimum 3 times of at least 10km each during the weekdays, I had to do several back-to-back long slow distance runs on Saturdays and Sundays too. The weekly total could be anything in the region of 60km-70km.
Looking back to the good old days in early 2008, I realise that I've come a long, long way. These days running 3km to 5km is just a short workout on a lazy day for me. On my supposed rest days, I sometimes bring JJ for a jog at the Likas jogging track. She would be panting heavily after only 3km, while I hardly break a sweat because of the slow pace.
But my focus has changed since last year. I'm gradually shifting my focus to the sport of triathlon. Which means instead of training for running, I now have to train for cycling and swimming too. Eventually, my running mileage dropped since I had to allocate time for the other two sports.
Then about two months ago, a friend invited me to join a facebook group where runners were challenged to run a total of 100km per month. It happened that I was cutting down my training sessions to allow my body to recover from exhaustion due to months of big volume training, and my running total came up to just around 70km-80km per month. This was also because I've been maintaining a minimal amount of time for swimming and cycling. I found that 70km-80km per month was too little and I was a bit shy to announce in that facebook page. I was for the most part just observing in silence.
This month, however, I am gradually increasing my mileage again for running, and I feel like 100km should be quite easily achievable. I have therefore started to post my running distances in the facebook page. Others are also posting their respective total running distances too. According to the Admin of that group, that's intended to inspire others to try to achieve that distance too. I thought that's a good idea.
It is amusing to note, however, that instead of getting inspired, there is now mention of people who're posting their running mileage are doing it to show off. It is amusing to me because I was actually hesitating whether to post or not since from my perspective 100km per month is not really an outrageous distance to achieve. In fact, in a strange way, I feel that that is rather too little.
Sometimes there is the tendency to forget that a running distance of 100km per month may appear differently when seen from different perspectives. To the untrained runners, that may be an impossible distance to run in a month; but to a regular runner, 100km per month is nothing to shout about, really.
But people have the tendency to see things negatively. Instead of getting inspired, they are seeing people as showing off. Instead of getting encouragement, they feel belittled. Instead of being happy to see others' achievements, they try to find ways to interpret those achievements in a negative way somehow.
I guess that is human nature. I shall not allow myself to be influenced by all these negative forces. I choose to strive for better; I choose to improve; I choose to realise my full potential. And in the end if I failed, then at least I know that I have given my best shot. My perspective is one that is always willing to take the challenge.