Why I Run
Mark Wilson, WEEKENDER | Wed, 05/30/2012 1:27 PM |
I first started running about 12 years ago in the UK. I was 18 years old and was getting no exercise, so I put on a pair of trainers and tried to see how far I could go, which turned out to be not very far at all – to the end of my street!
My lungs were burning. I was woefully out of shape. I admit I thought about throwing in the towel there and then, but the next day I tried it again and this time got a little further before having to stop for breath. I didn’t know it at the time, but my running journey had begun.
I started off on my own. It’s always better to run in a group, but in the beginning I think you need that little bit of determination to get yourself going – so I pushed myself. But I soon found that there was an unwritten code of etiquette on the running road.
As I was running I came across many other solitary runners on my route, and each time I passed they would say hello and give me words of encouragement. You would walk past these people on the street and they wouldn’t say a word, but running seemed to change that. It was a hidden community that could only be accessed if you put yourself through the exertion of running.
Soon I’d devised a couple of routes, one short and one a bit longer so that I could test myself. I quickly reached 1.5 kilometers without breaking a sweat and then kept on raising the bar. Within three months, I’d worked out a 6-kilometer route in my neighborhood that included a couple of steep hills – which are great for improving fitness. The route was punishing at first but as with any distance, gradually I got used to it. About once a week, I’d just take my MP3 player and run the route after work.
I found that running was a great de-stresser. It took my mind off work for an hour or so because I was concentrating on breathing and trying to improve my speed. Strangely enough, I got to the point where if I didn’t run I felt more tired, because running actually increased my energy.
But it was while I was studying in Texas that I really started to get into running. A couple of my friends at university were serious runners that had run half-marathons. I bought a better pair of running shoes and started running with them. It was so much better running with friends because I found my fitness increased much more quickly – we egged each other on and competed with each other.
It was there where I ran my first organized race: 5 kilometers in the sweltering heat of Austin, the Texan state capital. Running a race with so many other people was a new experience again. I found that the crowds really made a difference by encouraging everyone to keep on going until the end of the race. It was a really enjoyable experience and I remember thinking that I wanted to run the race again at the end.
Back in the UK with the running bug firmly within me, I soon convinced my uncle to take it up. Eventually, we ran a 10-kilometer race in Manchester, which is the longest distance I had ever run. Once again, with the crowds and the atmosphere of the day, it was a great experience, but this time I was focused on finishing in a good time. I ended up finishing in 52 minutes, which wasn’t bad for my first attempt.
Now I run whenever I can in Jakarta, and I completed a 5-kilometer race here last year. I don’t think the running bug will ever leave me. It’s as time consuming as you want it to be, simple, cheap and can be done with friends. If you want a little bit of exercise, I’d recommend it every time.