21 Thoughts on Running a (half) Marathon (other than 'oh God why')


It's been a few weeks since the 2XU Ultra Biathlon and the Great Eastern Women's Run. If you’re still having the runner’s high, fret not as the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore is just around the corner. To someone who hasn’t run beyond single digits, I’m feeling under-happy about it. Here are some thoughts from a virgin (half) marathoner.

1. Oh God why…

Sorry, had to get this one off my chest. There are many reasons why you signed up for a marathon. But to someone who has cycled, paddled and even swam further than I’ve ran, going for a marathon is like committing carbicide on a Paleo diet. Every step I take, my feet are asking why they’re touching solid ground. And for oh-so-freaking far. It’s just not natural for evolved humans to go so far on our own two feet. Then again, men do not question if it’s natural.

2. I actually have to train.

When the rational mind takes over after the shock and denial, it finally dawned upon me that I’m not Barney Stinson at the New York City Marathon. Completing a feat like this without endangering my life requires a plan. And that’s when I took out the calendar and realise that sleeping looks overrated.

3. My feet… aren’t killing me. Yet.

The basic gear for running is none other than the running shoes. James Bond and his chick in Quantum of Solace crossing the desert in dress shoes? That’s more fake than his acting. You need a proper pair to survive the perilous journey. Just for the event, Adidas released the Supernova Glide Boost (Limited Edition), that’s a perfect adaptable pair for casual runners. But really, I like it for the cool black stripes that turn highly reflective in the dark.

4. When did this pop up?

Running in Singapore, you’re bound to go through built up areas, whether it’s the CBD or neighbourhoods. Only when you run through them that you’ll start to notice the buildings that popped up like mushrooms. This is also when you start taking note of all the public toilets and 7-11 or mama shops. It’s a good habit that’ll come in handy during the marathon.

5. Damn I look good.

Other than to get the yearly $400 birthday bonus courtesy of the SAF, I run because it’s the only thing that makes those abs come out of hiding. Other than the obscene amount of cardio, marathon prep also gets you into the habit of eating healthy and sleeping properly. Seeing some progress in the mirror is the most addictive drug. The thought of losing it will give you worse withdrawals than Lindsay Lohan’s.

6. I can eat anything!

Running a marathon burns up a whole day’s worth of calories. So you can afford to upsize that extra value meal right? Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. Try Googling the calories in a can of Coke. Though it does make cheat days feel a lot less guilty, so go risk a Double Down.

7. And feeling all sorts of hungry.

You’d think that after a run, you’ll be too tired for any other ‘physical activities’. Apparently there are still some muscles you missed out. Training apparently increases your testosterone level, so like desert after a buffet, there’s always room for it.

8. But first, gotta check in and post a selfie.

A workout doesn’t count if you don’t check in and show it to the whole world. The cross fit guys know it best. Also helps that if you’re syncing your run on the Nike+ app with Facebook, where every ‘like’ gets you a cheer while you're running.

9. Where’s the photographer?

There are always photographers at sports events to capture your sexy sweaty moments. But they’re also trained like ninja paparazzi from the school of speed cameras. If you don’t want an unglam pic and pose a display pic worthy shot, you have to remain alert and flash that Colgate smile no matter how near death you are.

10. I can’t shake off Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

A good earworm can make or break a distance event. It is also the surest way of getting sick of a song. Considering the latest album releases, no prizes as to what hits will accompany the marathon next month. By the end of the event, nobody will be complaining that she took off her tracks off Spotify.

11. Might as well get something else done.

Two hours is too long to just keep staring at the pavement. Add in all the hours training and that’ll be more hours running than studying (oh my poor grades). In an attempt to multitask, I came across Podcasts and audiobooks from Audible.com. At first it might seem weird to be listening to news updates or The Hunger Games trilogy while your blood is pumping, but when you realise at the end of a run that you’re somewhat smarter, it’s pretty cool.

12. Running from my sorrows.

Had a bad break up? Stressed for exams? That bitch at work pissing you off? Run if off! It’s the best way to calm your nerves. By the time you realise it’s your feet that’s aching instead of your heart, you would’ve forgotten what you were worrying about in the first place.

13. My legs have a mind of their own.

Your longest distance was only so far, and there’s only so much that you think you can do. But when you go past that barrier and keep going, you’ve entered the world of the impossible. Just let your legs do its thing until you reach the finishing line.

14. Crap, I’m out of juice.

You’re only human, so there really is a limit. It’s like when your pre-workout runs out at the gym, or when a flying Superman suddenly becomes human. There can be a time when your adrenaline and endorphin suddenly runs out. Then the fatigue and aches hit you all at once like a kangaroo to a tonner.

15. Found the meaning of life.

Meditation was never my thing. I can’t keep still long enough. So I was pleased that when I get writer’s block (like me halfway through this article), hit the pavement and I somehow attain enlightenment along the way (while chasing that hottie).

16. An excuse to dress like a slut!

Maybe not like a slut, but running is a good excuse to wear as little as possible (besides swimming, and you sluts, Halloween). It’s the closest you can get to re-enacting the iconic bikini run down Orchard Road from The Champion (MediaCorp’s hottest scene to date, 80s kids ftw). When else can you turn up in town sweaty, wearing things that leave little to the imagination.

17. Who/what/where/why/how?

Great, the marathon is just around the corner, but what are the details? Do I have to scroll through the website or sift through my e-mail for the info? Oh #firstworldproblems. Thankfully for us advanced degenerates, there’s the SCMS app for a one-stop solution.

18. Must not lose face!

Laziness is the top excuse for not running. But when your reputation is on the line, it’s do or die. That’s why for training, I’ve been using the Nike+ app to ‘challenge’ my friends to run more. Likewise for the marathon itself, the SCMS app provides live tracking of runners. The last thing you want is to have your rival at the finishing line watching you crawl back.

19. Post-run selfies!

A run is never complete without the mandatory triumphant selfie. Better still if you’re topless and biting the hard earned finisher’s medal _posing like an Olympian. Even the official app understands, letting you post directly to the various social media platforms and even streams #SCMS2014.

20. Welcome to the brotherhood.

What time is it? 5am and you’re on your way to get yourself blisters and a week’s worth of cramps. Nobody else would know your struggles and triumphs other than your fellow runners. Weeks later when you have your Sunday kopi and spot someone wearing the SCMS finisher’s t-shirt, your gaze will interlock and you will have that intimate connection, knowing what each other went through. #nohomo

21. I’m Superman!

During training camp when I first joined the swim team, the coach turned us out and made us do an ‘endless swim’ in the middle of the night. Through gritted teeth, we did it anyway. And when the sun rose, we realised that we clocked more mileage than we thought possible. Just like finishing a marathon, you have achieved something that <1% of society has done. That feeling will last you far down the road, where you can truly say with conviction that impossible is for other mere mortals.