It’s a question I get a lot since I started running last year. When someone asked me again recently, I replied: “Untuk kesihatan badan” (For health). The answer, however, was rejected outright. I was referred to the film “Sepi” where one of the protagonists ran for a much deeper reason. It is therefore thought that there’s something more philosophical to my running as well.
I can understand that sentiment, especially now where I’m busy promoting my own community running project, Larian 40 Taman 100 Kilometer. Surely there must be a bigger objective than merely for better health?
Well, it all began when I was invited to promote and participate in the ntv7 Feel Good Run last year. I said yes, even though I barely clocked any sort of meaningful kilometres. I was trying to lose weight then just to look better on screen for MHI, but the treadmill and exercise bike that I bought were mainly used to hang my clothes rather than for what they were meant for.
But once I said yes to the Feel Good Run, I knew I had to take the commitment seriously. For one, I didn’t want to look like a fool, panting and struggling, or God forbid, passing out on event day (although that would have guaranteed me instant press). So I knew I had to hit the parks and see how far I could go.
The first step was of course to buy a pair of new shoes. I bought the adidas cross-trainers, but they sat in the box for a good few weeks before I finally took them out, and wore them to the nearby park.
I was a total novice, of course. The shoes weren’t really suitable for running, and I had no gadgets whatsoever to track my runs. But I did started running. In cotton tees and track bottoms, no less.
I remember the first few times, I felt like dying after about 500 metres. I ran out of breath easily, my shins were really aching and I got re-acquainted with that sharp pain around the abdominals felt during “merentas desa” all those years ago.
I realised how unfit I had become at that point in time and I hated it. I mean, once upon a time I was a jock for crying out loud, hitting the courts for some bball action almost every day during my uni days, and I did weights on and off as well.
But work commitments these past few years had taken me to a different path. Free time’s usually filled with good food and “quality” time on the sofa; a combination that led to a degree of happiness, but a lot to worry about.
And the biggest worry of all was; would I be healthy enough in years to come to look after my loved ones? That question popped up more often than not, especially with constant news of people that I knew who were struggling with one health complication or the other.
I realised how irresponsible it was of me to also burden them with the task of taking care of me should my health fail big time. And the thing was; I was in a position to do something about it.
That being the major motivating factor, I overcame the first hurdle of simply not giving up. I made it fun to run, by first and foremost, buying cool new gear. Haha. The Nike Vomero shoes with Nike + chip, proper (and fancy) running tops and pants etc.
It was then all down to pure determination and will power. The aching shins, the shortness-of-breath were all still there, but I continued to run. And run. And run.
Soon enough, my mind and body adjusted to the shock of the new me, and I started feeling good. And as all other runners might also say, I started to fall in love with it.
I also started to lose weight and generally felt healthier than I’ve ever been. Taking things further, I started entering running events. It started with the 5km, then the Feel Food Run arrived and I ran the 7km instead of the 3km “celebrity category”.
Still, at that point in time, I felt like the 10km was a challenge too big for me, but I finished my first 10km a few months after the Feel Good Run. What a moment that was. I felt like I had conquered the impossible. All the hard work was more than worth it.
Of course I couldn’t have done it without the support of friends and family (they know who they are). NOT doing something is always easier, but having good support all around us would make the hard part even easier.
So here I am now, running regularly and as mentioned, taking the cause to the community. I run wherever I go and I still get a rush every time I cross the Finish line. It also feels great when people come up to me at events and tell me that they took up running because they saw me doing it on TV.
I’ll never be the fastest runner around, and I don’t know if I’ll ever complete a full marathon in my lifetime. But running has really changed my life. I’m in my 4-series now and I face it with a degree of confidence.
I also have many running goals to fulfill now, but none is more important than staying fit and healthy: for myself, and for my loved ones.