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Be that “Good Enough” runner.

Posted by on July 26, 2012

Malaysians are going run-crazy! Running events are popping up like wild mushrooms every other weekend and registration to enter these runs are selling out before the early bird entry can close. To me, that’s amazing. I mean, sure the Health Ministry thinks we’re kinda getting fatter and unhealthier, but there also seems to be an awakening! And I LOVE IT :)

Everyone wants to run. Everyone wants to wear cool gears, awesome clothes, post up run routes with snazzy tracking devices on their snazzy phones, wear a medal which says FINISHER. Everyone wants to get better, faster, stronger. Everyone wants to win. And so they scour the internet on topics like “How to train for a sub 3 hour marathon” or “How do I smash my 10 km split time”. And there’re plenty of these sites to go to, yes? But how about the person who just wants to run. The person who just wants to be submerged in the thrill of it all, get a good sweat out of it, and just be happy with completing the race somewhat effortlessly. How about the “Average Joe” runner? I guess that’s where I come in. I’ve been a runner for half my life (literally), and I do okay, good enough. Not a podium finisher, but not the one who brings in the St Johns. I’m happy. A lot of people say “How do you do it Karen?”. Quite honestly, I don’t train much. I do not put in miles and miles of training, hours and hours alone on the streets on weekends. I just run when I feel like it and that’s that. =)

So if being just that “Good Enough” runner like me is what you want, you can follow a few simple tips from yours truly.

1. Love it.

In the first place, if you don’t love running, then don’t waste your time. I love running. I love to see people running. But I know it’s not for everyone. I know that people grow to love running through taking time out to run and achieving that elusive runner’s high, but very truthfully, if you hate it, you hate it. And that’s fine. Do something else. But if you love running, then half the battle is won. Love everything about it. The comfort, the easy rhythm of your pace, the “me” time, the “iPod” time, the cool running gears and apps, just love them all. When you love it, you’re already a runner. =)
2. Know your pace.

I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate a little bit and say you don’t need to train very very hard to be good enough. BUT, you need to train enough to know what your pace is. Know it. If you take 30 minutes to run 1 round around your block, get it measured and that’s your pace. If you’re a treadmill warrior, know your pace. The big speed number is in km/h. And know your pace well enough that on race day, you don’t get over excited and start running faster than usual without realising it. Which brings us to the next point.

3. Competition Schompetition.

All runners are competitive. Everyone who took the initiative to pay money and get themselves registered, drive out to wherever to get their running bib and wear it on race day, beaming with pride, is competitive. They wouldn’t have done any of that if they weren’t. Even the backbenchers all try to outrun one another to not get last. So I can understand how very very tempting it is to beat that guy in that red shorts 10 m ahead of you. Or that girl in the baby pink running skirt up ahead (Clue: if you ever see me on race day, you’d better not be wearing pink, because I’ll make it my mission to beat you :P). It’s tempting. But if you can, try not to go too much faster than your average pace. It’s not worth it if you are going to burn out just 2 km before the finish line.
4. Rest. Prepare.

Take proper rest and preparation for race day. I may play around a lot and look like I’m not that serious a runner, but when it comes to the day before a race, I generally take time to rest and prepare. It’s become something of a ritual – decide what to wear, pin my number bib on, fasten timing chip, prepare bananas and gels, prepare breakfast, prepare water. I do this all the day before and I never leave it to the morning itself. Plus, REST. Have a quiet day in, or minimal activity, and an early night. Going out shopping all day may actually tire you out, and cause fatigue in your leg muscles, something you don’t want to have the next morning.

5. Eat well.

If you’re going to slack the whole time and not train hard enough to even taper, then at the very least take the effort to eat well the few days before competition. I’d say about 3 days before. It’s the least you could do. Load up on a bit more carbs, avoid oily foods and spicy foods. Drink plenty of fluids and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You’ve already chosen to RUN on a Sunday morning, might as well make your entire weekend a healthy one by eating and drinking right.   Alcohol dehydrates you, big time. So I’d give the bars and clubs a break on race weekend, just so you can have a nice, enjoyable race =)

6. Respect the distance.

Whatever the distance you signed up for, respect it. Race day runs will never feel like your average training run. There’s excitement. There’s waking up at crazy hours in the morning. There’re portaloos (those portable toilets). There’s all that people cheering you to run to the finish line. There’re photographers everywhere. Even if your intention was to just have fun, you’ll get absorbed into the hype and the next thing you know, a 10 km run suddenly feels so much more challenging than the one you did on the treadmill last week. Respect the distance, and you’ll have a bigger sense of glory when you cross that line knowing you didn’t stop to walk for a second. =)

I hope these 6 steps can add a little more oomph to your run on race day! If it keeps you happy for one race, it’ll keep you happy for the next few races and the many more in future years. =)

8 Responses to Be that “Good Enough” runner.

  1. Non-Kenyan

    Hi Karen,

    This is an excellent write up. I have seen you in a few races recently. Keep it up (and the writing)!

  2. skyf1re

    I like that pic of you.

  3. Vince

    Hey Karen!
    Nice article! Especially the first point! Very true!
    I signed up for Auckland 1/2 Marathon this year and ive only got 1 month to prep when i get back to nz haha

    • Karen

      haha Where are u now bro? and why 1/2? Why not full anymore? ;)

  4. Fairy (aka Farah)

    Hi Karen, this write-up was great, I agreed on all the points on so many levels, especially on having an easy uneventful day before race day (just chill out at home, relax), and also about not trying to beat someone else who is running with you on the day, lest you burn out. Everyone’s got their own pace and the race really (for most of us I think) is about competing with ourselves.

    Btw I love your blog, so full of useful nuggets for the average newbie and recreational runner such as myself, keep on writing!

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