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Motivation by Jamie Pang

I recently embarked on my comeback to training and what better way to kick it off than during the first day of the Chinese New Year. Since that day, I've been able to run consistently nearly everyday, even over the New Year holidays. What I'm happy about is that all the runs except one, were undertaken at 6:45am. This Base phase is to gradually build my endurance to be able to run 20K comfortably before moving to serious mileage building and some speedwork in the form of lactate threshold and tempo runs in 2 months' time.

I've to stress here that during the holiday, my runs were usually within 40 minutes with the longest one at about 45 minutes. Given the fact that my endurance is poor, my approach during this initial comeback stage is to run by time rather than distance.

I call this Time On Feet (TOF). If I want to run for 40 minutes, I'd take off and run out for 20 minutes before turning back for another 20. Doing so will also allow me to monitor my pace - I've to ensure that I don't run too fast on the way back and finish over 5 minutes faster than the run out. As much as possible I try to keep my splits even. If I feel really good, I will run longer instead of faster, at least for now in this stage of my training.

This is the most viable approach especially for beginners and those coming back after a long period of layoff. It's a simple plan - hold an "x" amount of minutes' TOF for a week before increasing it no more than 10 minutes the following week. For weekend long runs, run by feel.

TOF is the basis of training. No matter how fast you can run, you can only last a limited number of kilometres. Unless trained, your body is not conditioned to race more than, just for example, 1 hour. To condition your body, you need to have comfortably done a few runs of 1 hour. Look at it as a systematic stressing process of your body. The body is an incredible piece of engineering and it will adapt and grow stronger to structured stressing. The word "structured" is key as to disregard it will court injuries and burnout. We often treat our bodies badly, been disrespectful of it and don't give it credit for what it can do. Steverunner mentioned in his podcast that we should all treat the body like a precious gift and look after it just like how we would if we're handed the keys to a luxury car. We would make sure that the car is parked in shade, washed and waxed regularly, serviced according to the schedule and looked at with pride. Our bodies (and mind, really) should be accorded the same caring treatment as the car.

Spoiler ahead: In Steven Spielberg's gripping motion picture "Saving Private Ryan", a small team of soldiers led by Captain John Miller (played by Tom Hanks in excellent form) set out to find and bring home a fellow soldier, Private Ryan (Matt Damon, equally up to task). During the course of locating and ensuring Ryan's safety, much of the rescuers perished. Of course Ryan was saved but just before Captain Miller died of his wounds, there was a defining moment of the movie (in my opinion). He told Ryan "Earn it", meaning Ryan must earn his right to be alive so that the deaths of his rescuers were not in vain. What I'm trying to get at is that we have to earn our health and fitness, our family's love, our wealth and our keep on this Earth.

Some beginners to running will feel uncomfortable covering the distance or spending that much time on your feet. And that's perfectly normal and OK. You're already on the way to addressing that. Not a problem. Just keep at it. Sometimes what one needs is a powerful motivation. In my case, it's my quest for a sub-4 hour marathon that keeps me going. If you can find your personal motivation, you will also be on the road to achieving new heights whatever your goals may be.


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