Friday, July 24, 2015

Running Your First Marathon in 12 Months

Team Athlete Annie Yee
You wipe the sweat from your brow, and almost immediately another drop takes its place. You look further ahead and you see the road takes a turn upwards. Your head pounds as you lost count of the number of climbs you have endured. Your calves are screaming and your shoulders are heavy. Your drenched shirt clings to your body like a second skin as you make your way over the hill and towards the finish line. 300 meters to go. You can see the crowd lining the finishing chute, and photographers snapping away. Your mind goes blank. Months of training and sacrifice has brought you to this moment. You can hear every beat of your heart and every breath you take as you close your eyes for a split second to savour the moment. 10 meters from the finishing arch, you pump both hands in the air and grit your teeth in satisfaction. As you cross the line and the race volunteers put a medal around your neck and hand you an ice cold bottle of water, you realize that you have just put your body and mind through an arduous endurance feat that tested the limits of your physical and mental capacities. You have just earned the accolade of a Marathon Finisher.

The Marathon is a running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometers and it evokes feelings of awe and respect amongst runners and non-runners even. Imagine running from Klang town all the way to Kuala Lumpur City Centre. You get tired even thinking about driving that distance, what more going on 2 feet. What makes a person willing to run for 42 kilometers? Is it the sheer satisfaction and sense of achievement? Is it the hard-earned finisher’s medal? Is it the marathon finisher’s shirt that you will cherish and have a special place in your wardrobe? Or maybe, it is just bragging rights. Whatever the reason, taking up a marathon challenge is a lifestyle change. It is a test of one’s physical stamina and mental strength and months of hard work and sacrifice leading up to the big event. Every year, thousands of runners take up the challenge of running a full marathon distance race all over the world. Many complete the distance, some struggle through it, others fail in their attempt. It is said that only 1% of the world’s population has completed a full marathon. Will you take up the challenge?

What do runners who have completed the marathon distance have to say about the experience of running one? We asked a simple question to several runners to gauge their response – “What inspired you to take part in your first full marathon?”

The wakeup call was when I discovered during a medical checkup, my cholesterol level was high and because of that, migraine hit me almost every week. It took me a year of training before my first marathon. The aim was to complete the race and with this aim, it kept me motivated to train week after week. At the end, the feeling of crossing the finishing line for my very first marathon was priceless” – Imran, 30, SCKLM 2013, Lecturer

When I saw runners older than me who can complete a full marathon, it spurred my instinct to sign up for my very first marathon. I felt that If they can do it, so can I. Other than that, influence from friends did play a part in motivating me to sign up my very first full marathon.” - Vivienne Loo, Energizer Night Marathon 2010, Self-Employed.

My running experience is less than a year and what really inspired me are other runners in the community who have completed the marathon and beyond. I wanted to put myself in their shoes, to feel what they have gone through and all the sacrifice that is required in completing such a journey. No matter how fast or how slow they ran, they finished it and completed it. Running has taught me a lot of respect and to praise God that how lucky we are to be given such strength and determination to achieve and go beyond the boundaries of human capabilities.” – Man Abdul Shukor, 37, Melaka International River Marathon 2014, Senior Engineer

My main inspiration to enter my 1st FM was to reduce my weight.  My weight was around 85kg and the BMI test showed I am in an unhealthy position. Thus, I took up running and eventually ran a full marathon after 10 months of running.” – Puvan Maha Iswara, 29, Putrajaya Night Marathon 2011, Engineer

This is the first of a series of 6 articles that will guide the runner to complete his or her first marathon race in 12 months time. For a start, the 2015 Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) will most probably be held in the month of October if everything goes according to plan and it is one of the most well organized marathon events in Malaysia. It is also one of the most popular choices for runners who want to register for their first marathon race. The marathon race scene in Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and this is evident from the number of full marathon events you can sign up for today compared to 5 years ago. Some of the marathon events worth mentioning are of course the above Standard Chartered KL Marathon, Penang Bridge International Marathon (PBIM), Putrajaya Night Marathon (PNM), Kuching International Marathon, Borneo International Marathon in Sabah, Island Ocean Marathon in Langkawi and the River Jungle Marathon in Klang Valley. With the boom in running, there is also a marathon event that caters for women called the Malaysia Women Marathon and is a day to celebrate the strength of women and empowerment of sisters in running.

This series of articles will encompass different slices of the marathon pie, and when put together, will enable the runner to have adequate knowledge, information and tips to confidently participate in their first 42.195km road race. The articles will cover progressive training programs that cater to running the full distance; nutrition, fuel and hydration requirements; training gear and race essentials; injury prevention and valuable tips for the big day! Knowing that a first full marathon is one of the defining moments in a runner’s career, it is imperative to be as best prepared as possible approaching the big day.

Sharing their valuable experience and in-depth knowledge in running for the benefit of the runners who would like to take up the first marathon challenge; is Team 2ndskin who were featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Running Malaysia. Team 2ndskin are a team of accomplished runners and triathletes, who amongst themselves have amassed a combined total of 88 marathon finishes and 38 ultramarathon races under their belt (or shoes!). Their combined running mileage easily exceeds 15,000km a year and on average they wear out about 4 pairs of running shoes each in 12 months!  The regular marathon and ultramarathon runners in Team 2ndskin are Roy Yeow, Azrulhisyam Hussin, Lim Ee-Van, Annie Yee and Eugene Teoh. They have run marathons in different conditions and weather, in multiple countries and on different terrains. Having tried and tested different running gears and products along the way, Team 2ndskin are well placed to offer advice on the right choice of equipments and gear required to complete your first marathon. They have also tried different training programs and methodologies and are well-versed with different running workout types and the benefits of each type of workout session to the overall goal of a marathon finish.

Ready to take up the challenge of running your first marathon in 12 months? Look out for the next article on basic and progressive training programs that will kick-start your goal to join the ranks of runners who call themselves Marathoners.

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