Running Average: Tips for choosing new running shoes

There are a lot of variables in running, including your body (your muscles, fatigue) how well it’s trained, the weather (hot, cold, dry, humid), and even how stressed you are.

So it stands to reason that you should try and control what you can control to remove at least one variable in the equation – and to that end, let’s talk about running shoes and how you might pick your new running shoes.

A brief disclaimer: I’m relatively new to running so take my advice as such, but I’ve bought a fair few pairs of shoes myself and I hope I can share my experiences with the whole process.

So without further ado, here’s my first tip:

Tip #1: Run with the shoe

If I can get only one point across this whole post, it will be this one: if at all possible, try to run with the shoe you’re trying before you buy.

Walking around with the runners is all well and good to gauge general comfort, but unless you run in them, you won’t notice issues like the insole creating a pressure point on your foot or the tongue chafing on your ankle – these are all things that you won’t see just walking around the store.

Many of the specialist running shoe stores will have a treadmill, so make sure to make use of that as that’s exactly what they are there for. If there isn’t a treadmill, just do a few laps of the store – don’t be afraid of being “that weird runner” who is running around the store; it’s your money, so make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Enough space for your toes?

Tip #2: Ignore the brand

We live in a pretty consumer-centric world which tends to reward those brands who spend the most on marketing their products. However, if we runners only pay attention to that, not only would we all be in Nike and Adidas runners, we’d also be missing out on all the brilliant brands that don’t spend as much on marketing but have shoes that you really should be aware of and trying.

Lesser known brands like Brooks, Saucony or Mizuno (I’m sure there are more too!) might not be at the top of everyone’s list, but they have great ranges to suit various needs and years of experience in running shoes. If you get the chance, do try them out during your running shoes search and you may just find what you’re looking for.

Big fan of Mizuno now, though I never considered them prior to running

Tip #3: Find what’s comfortable for you

Related to tip #1 is finding the shoe that is comfortable to you. There is a lot of information online about what shoes suit what kind of running style and shoes that stop pronation, etc. While this is all well and good (I’m not going to dive into the science right now – maybe in a future post), nothing can substitute how you feel with the shoes on your feet.

I myself am a moderate over-pronator, however the two shoes that I use the most for daily runs and for my races are the HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6 and the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X, respectively. Both are technically neutral shoes which some people will tell you I shouldn’t be using, but I find them to be extremely comfortable and I haven’t looked back since.

Of course, there are those of you who will have actual medical advice to get a certain type of shoe, or to get orthotics, which you should definitely be following – but just remember that if it’s uncomfortable when you’re trying it on, those running shoes are probably going to be uncomfortable when you’re running too, despite what your feet may need.

So, so comfortable – my HOKA ONE ONE Clifton 6

Tip #4: Know what the shoe is for

Before going out to buy new running shoes, it’s important to know what the shoe you’re about to buy is for – is it a daily trainer, or is it a shoe for marathon racing?

Using the marathon as an example, while most shoes can be used for lesser distances, the needs of a marathon (and longer) will be quite different to that of a 5km race. Marathon shoes will tend to have a bit more cushioning to give you that little bit more protection as you fatigue over the course of your marathon, whereas a shoe for a shorter race may prioritise being light, hence having less cushioning.

This may require a bit of research to find out what kind of shoe is recommended for your intended usage – alternatively, finding a specialist running shoe store will also give you the opportunity to talk to their highly trained staff, who will often be avid runners as well and will likely have some good recommendations based on what you think you need.

Tip #5: Budget accordingly

It can be tempting to set a hard budget prior to searching for new running shoes (and there will be people who need to do this) but if you have a small amount of flexibility, my advice is that it’s best to go out and find the shoe that you’re comfortable in first and then assess whether it’s worth the money.

One way to think about how much you should spend on running shoes goes back to my point at the start of this post – getting a good pair of shoes means you have one less thing to worry about when you go out running, and can potential stop you getting injured in the long run too.

You can also always look online or buy second hand as well – there will always be people who haven’t followed tips like these and put down money before realising their new shoes are actually not great for them – this can be an opportunity to pick up a bargain!

Got these for a steal online; you can always find a bargain!

Tip #6: Ignore the gimmicks

Running shoe brands are always trying to find a way to differentiate themselves from other brands, and often come up with unique technologies which apparently give runners certain benefits.

Some of these are really quite effective, while others have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on a whole lot, like how you run, etc. The recent carbon plate movement is a great example of this – while there are certainly benefits to this new technology, but it’s not always going to be applicable for everyone, nor will it suit everyone’s taste.

Really, the best thing to do is to just ignore all of the hype and the gimmicks and just make sure that the shoe feels right for you.

Carbon plates are cool, but do you need one?

So those are my tips for picking your new running shoes. If you have any tips that you have of your own, do drop me a comment below.

Otherwise, I’ll catch you on my next post

Running Average: Do I need a fitness tracker? Pros and cons for a beginner runner

A few days ago, I posed the question of “do I need a fitness tracker?” on my Instagram account. I definitely stand by what I said there, which is that it’s not a must for those runners just starting out. However I don’t think this quite captures everything I wanted to express about buying a fitness tracker in order for you to make an educated decision – so I wanted to write a quick post on what the pros and cons are of buying a fitness tracker are.

Cons:

Let’s start with the cons first.

Stats overload

When you’re just starting out on your running journey, one of the worst things you can do is focus too much on numbers.

How fast should I be running? What should my heart rate be? Am I running in zone 3?

These are all questions that you’ll probably want to answer in due time, however, when you are just starting to run, my advice would be just to get out there and run!

There’s nothing like just hitting the pavement, or grass, or whatever surface, and getting used to what it feels to run for a distance longer than from your home to the bus stop.

Expensive

Fitness trackers are not cheap, especially if you want one with bells and whistles. No doubt you will be investing in a new wardrobe of running clothes, a new pair of running shoes, and various accessories – adding a fitness tracker to that list as one of the things that you need before you get out there is a stretch for sure.

If money is no object for you, my advice would be to do your research on what you want out of your fitness tracker – there are many, many options, and you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Distracting

This is something I’ve fallen victim to and many runners suffer from this too from time to time. Fitness trackers can be an extremely useful resource in helping you improving your running, however this shouldn’t be done at the expense of missing the world around you.

The world is an extremely beautiful place and often we don’t notice it if we’re intently watching our fitness trackers for what our current pace is or when our internal ends. My opinion is that fitness trackers were designed to aid us during our running activities, so we should make sure they don’t become more than that.

Pros:

Choices

While you want to make sure you get your money’s worth, the good news is that you will be able to choose from a huge collection of fitness trackers that fit your specific needs.

Only need a step counter? There’s something for you.

Want to add heart rate? There’s also something for you too.

As per my above point, though, I would make sure to do some research on what exactly you want out of your fitness tracker and how committed you are to your running journey.

Educated guidance

Once you’re more accustomed to running, getting information about your pace or heart rate can be invaluable information for improving your running.

The key here is that you need to know what to do with that information – for example, is your heart rate tracking 10 beats per minute a problem, or is it because it was unusually hot and humid on that particular run?

Educating yourself and researching will be your surest way of making sure you don’t use the information incorrectly.

Don’t love researching? Then talk to me!

Progress tracking

By far the greatest benefit to having a fitness tracker is being able to track your progress over time.

Having something tracking your speed, heart rate, or even just your steps taken, will eventually tell you that you are making improvements in your running. Of course you can make do with your phone, but sometimes you want more accuracy, or want to track something in particular, like heart rate, for instance.

One of my most empowering moments as a runner was looking back at a run I did a few months ago and realize that I just did it much more comfortably by looking at my heart rate.

So what’s the long story short?

My advice is to know what you’re getting into – you know why you got into running and you know what you want to get out of it; if that involves getting a fitness tracker, then either think about whether or not you really need it, or you can make do with your phone for a little while longer as you get used to running.

Hope this has been useful for someone out there – if it has, please do drop me a comment below; I would love to hear from you. If you have any suggestions for improvements, I would also love to hear it too!

Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional athlete or qualified coach so all the above thoughts are simply my own experience or researched online and chatting to other runners.

Running Average: Brooks PureCadence 7 Review

I’m a fairly budget-conscious person, so when I started running, I tuned my deal-finding skills for finding shoes at a relatively ambitious target: <$100 SGD.

Naturally, a budget like that wasn’t going to bag me any top of the line Nike’s or anything of that sort, but it did broaden my scope to brands that I, as a very amateur runner, might not have considered – brands like Brooks.

Which is how we’ve arrived here, with my Brooks PureCadence 7 review.

Likes/dislikes

Likes

  • Snug fit around the ankle and good lockdown from lacing
  • Light; good for mid distances
  • Provides good amount of stability via Guiderails

Dislikes

  • A bit narrow in the toebox for wider feet
  • Upper not super breathable

General Info

The Brooks PureCadence 7 is the (surprise!) 7th iteration of the PureCadence line of stability running shoes, intended primarily for road running. As compared to the previous version, the PureCadence 7 mainly updates the upper to what Brooks calls “Woven Air”, whereas the midsole has remained relatively untouched in this iteration. It has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop and weighs 255g, presumably in a men’s size 9.

Size & fit

I typically get a US size 10.5 to give myself enough room in the toebox and for the PureCadence 7, I was able to go true-to-size. I will mention that the whole Pure line of shoes from Brooks are generally narrow, so I would definitely try this one on first if you know you have wider feet – it worked for me, but I’m pretty borderline between normal and wide feet.

As I mention above, the ankle fit was great thanks to Brooks’ design of the heel cup – there was plenty of padding all around the ankle which made for a comfy fit, and made lockdown very easy; I never had to use the extra eyelets to get a good snug fit. Part of this was thanks to the lacing as well – Brooks provides a loop quite high on the tongue, which allows you to really secure your ankle as you’re lacing up. This is probably one of my favourite lacing setups of all the shoes I currently have. The provided laces are quite thick and rough so there’s minimal slippage once you’re laced up.

Overall, the fit was snug, which for me has always equated to a secure and stable feeling ride, and is generally what I want given I run mostly in stability shoes. Some may not like the claustrophobic feeling of all the padding inside the shoe, but I’m quite a big fan of how these felt.

Upper

One of the main comments I see about the PureCadence 7 online is that the upper is thicker than that of the PureCadence 6 which may lead to overheating and poor ventilation. While the 6 had more of a neoprene-like upper, the PureCadence 7 has what Brooks calls Woven Air – or in my layman terms, basically a woven fabric upper.

While it definitely doesn’t seem like the most breathable upper, I’ve not experienced hot feet using these shoes in the whole time that I’ve been running in Singapore, which as you’ll know is generally super hot and humid. I will say that sometimes it is nice to feel wind rushing over your feet if it’s a particularly hot day, which I’ve not been able to experience in the PureCadence 7, but it does a serviceable job of ventilating and making sure your feet aren’t overheating during a run.

Midsole

Carried over from the PureCadence 6, the 7 yet again incorporates Brooks’ DNA midsole as well as their Guiderails which feature on most of their newer stability offerings. The two different midsole materials are light overall, while the Guiderails provide stability by – theoretically – forcing your foot to roll into a more normal footstrike as you start to tire. To be completely honest, this wasn’t something that I explicitly noticed while running longer distances, but neither did I get any unusual hip, knee or ankle pains during my 175km using these.

Outsole

Speaking of mileage, after 175km, I’m starting to see a good amount of wear on the back corner of the shoe – while I’m not a classic heel striker, I do normally get a lot of wear in this spot.

The PureCadence 7 provides a very generous amount of rubber on the entire outsole, however in the corner where I’m seeing the most wear I’ve almost worn through the rubber outsole and I’m about to start wearing through some of the Guiderails midsole. There’s no hint of significant wear on the mid and forefoot rubber, which does suggest that I’m just hitting this spot on the heel more than is usual as overall the outsole rubber seems to be very durable.

This probably won’t stop me getting another 200-300km out of these as the midsole still feels as good as the day I got them, but it will be something to keep an eye on.

Ride

In terms of how it feels to run on, the shoe is surprisingly cushioned and springy given the heel height is only 22mm – it’s definitely good enough to get you through up to a half marathon, though I’ve not tried it for anything longer than that distance. While it’s not a heavy shoe, it’s not super light either (probably just “normal” light) so the extra weight may start making a difference at longer distances.

The low heel-to-toe drop at 4mm is something to note if you’re used to a slightly higher drop – for the most part you probably won’t notice and for some this just a matter of preference, but I generally switch from high to low drop shoes between runs so it just means you need be a bit more vigilant when you’re a bit more tired so as not to land on your heel too much.

Verdict

Overall Verdict: Recommended

The Brooks PureCadence 7 is a solid running shoe that is relatively light and provides good stability for those who need it. It can be found for cheaper than the regular retail price of $199 SGD as it is officially discontinued (I nabbed it for $99) but I’ve seen it still in stick at plenty of retailers who carry Brooks shoes – if you get the chance, do try them on; you may be surprised.

Have you tried the Brooks PureCadence 7? If you have and agree or disagree with me review, do leave a comment for me below.

Running Average: My Current Training Philosophy (July 2019)

As you may have read in my introductory blog post, I’ve never been much of a long distance runner so I suspect that I have no aerobic base so to speak of. So since I really started to train for a marathon, which is probably since March this year, I’ve stuck to pretty much the same mantra as part of my training philosophy – easy runs at easy pace.

What this equates to is I train mainly with heart rate showing on my Garmin Forerunner 235 and aim to keep that as close to, or usually under, 150bpm as I can. Where that number comes from is the Maffetone Method – supposedly you can estimate your maximum aerobic heart rate by subtracting your age from 180, and you can add or subtract some corrections if you need to (e.g. injuries, major illnesses, etc)

By keeping my heart rate below 150bpm, the theory is that your body adapts and gets more efficient at this particular effort level (though the same could be said of any type of training, to be completely honest). I’ve never actually dug into the finer details of the Maffetone Method, but the bit that really sold me was that training at this lower heart rate, you end up not beating up your body so badly and therefore are able to recover more quickly for your next runs. And truth be told, I’ve not really been disappointed with the results.

Currently, I’m training 3-4 days using this training philosophy – it applies to both my easy runs and long runs, and perhaps predictably, I do no speed work whatsoever. Coming up to the marathon on November, however, this may need to change just a little.

In a crazy, crazy version of my journey to my first marathon, I would have loved to have finished in under 4 hours, but at present, I think it may be too difficult to continue building my aerobic base and add speed work at the same time. That probably won’t stop me from trying, but more likely than not, my target speed for the marathon is going to be 6:00min/km, which takes me over my dream 4 hour marathon.

So that’s my training philosophy at present in a nutshell – I’m sure there are improvements I can make, and I’m sure I’ll make adjustments along the way too, but I’m learning a lot as I go, which has made the journey worth it so far. If you have any suggestions for me, please do leave me a comment below or on Instagram as I’m very happy to hear from other’s experiences.

Running Average: Oxfitt Run 2019

I’ve definitely mentioned it entirely too much this week, however this past weekend I completed my first half marathon ever at the Oxfitt Run 2019. I just wanted to leave my thoughts here in case anyone wants to know my impressions and experiences of the event, maybe for future Oxfitt events.

The Oxfitt Run this year was held at Marina Barrage – I understand last year’s event was an evening run of 15km, while this year’s event was a half marathon (21km) and in the morning. As the start time was at 5:30am, I took a Grab to the Barrage – while this is quite early, I would eventually appreciate this as I finished the race before the sun really started beating down. But more on that later.

The starting (and finishing) area was dimly lit, probably so as not to shock all of us who were still waking up. However, this made it kind of difficult to spot the baggage drop area. After speaking to some helpful event staff, I found the baggage drop area, who gave me a sticker that corresponded with the tag attached to my bag. I say sticker; it actually didn’t stick particularly well to my race bib, so I ended spearing it with one of the safety pins to make sure I didn’t lose it.

By the time I was done dropping my bag, I lined up for the bathrooms – as the event was taking place at the Barrage, there were only a small number of port-a-loos as there were facilities available already. As a man, this made it quite convenient as there were both urinals and cubicles, which kept things moving quite quickly (for me at least, since I didn’t need a cubicle).

My camera really struggled to take photos in these low light conditions

As I exited the bathroom, the start pen opened up so I took my place about one-third of the way back from the front. The event stage was right at the front of the pen, where the MC tried to keep all of the bleary-eyed runners, like myself, entertained and eventually took us through a warm up as the start time approached.

While the event was sponsored by Oxfitt and their name was splashed everywhere, there was actually no official presence of the company – in fact when it came to waving the race start, it was an official from the event organizer, Pink Apple. Not necessarily a bad thing, just unusual.

At 5:30am sharp, the race was waved off, but because there was only one big wave, everyone was only able to shuffle out of the relatively narrow starting pen. Once out of the pen, I decided to try to catch up to the pacers as I wasn’t too far back, though it still took me almost 2km before I was able to catch up to the 2:20 pacers (targeting a 6:30min/km pace), who I decided would be the group for me to follow for the first part of the race.

The course was still very dark and in parts poorly lit, but there were plenty of course officials and markings to make sure we didn’t make any wrong turns. There were a few narrow spots and stairs which were a bit tricky to navigate in the dark, but for the most part the course was quite manageable in the dark.

For me personally, my plan was to run the first half of the race behind pacers, then speed up after this. This actually worked well as the pacers started off a bit quickly, hitting the 10km mark by 1:02:00, 3 mins ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, they slowed down significantly to get back down to their target time. It was at this point that I broke away for the second phase of my run.

At 16km, the course runs back passed the Barrage, taking us up on top of the Barrage before coming back down towards the Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands – unfortunately I made the ill-fated decision to run quite quickly up the Barrage, buoyed by the excitement of overtaking people; this would come back to haunt me shortly.

Spotted: me struggling in the background

At 19km, we ran in front of Marina Bay Sands and the Shoppes before looping back towards the Barrage for the last 2km. It was at this point that I started feeling an abdominal cramp – probably partly because of overexerting when running up the Barrage, and partly due to lack of hydration and nutrition in this last phase of the race. At the 20km, the cramp had me almost doubled over as I struggled to maintain my running form.

One km later, I managed to hobble over the finish line for a net time of 2:11:06. Considering I’d never finished a half marathon, even in training, I was just happy to have finished; the time was just the icing on the cake. At the finish line, we received a finisher medal, a bottle of Pocari Sweat, a can of drink from minor sponsor XS Energy, a banana, and a ice towel.

Bag pick up was efficient – admittedly I was hobbling at this point so the helpful event staff made note of my bag number as I hobbled over and handed me my bag without me ever having to stop.

That pretty much concludes my experience of Oxfitt Run 2019. It might not be one those mainstream races that you sign up for immediately, but if it’s on next year and I’m in Singapore, I think I’ll sign up again.

Thanks to my supporters!

Running Average: Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE, and Carbon X First Impressions

It was pretty early…

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I finally got my hands on the HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X yesterday morning (June 29th). The event I received them at (and signed up for) was the “Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE”, run by HOKA ONE ONE Singapore and Run Singapore.

This was my first time attending such an event, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect beyond turning up to pick up my shoes. There I was, at 6:30am, at Punggol Waterway Point for the first time, looking for a sea of blue, which I ended up finding pretty easily as there were a number of keen runners already jogging around in their brand new Carbon X’s.

*angelic sounds*

After registering my name, I was given my shoes in the size I had pre-ordered (US 10.5, if anyone is interested) and hastily put on my socks and the Carbon X’s.

I intend to write a full review sometime in the future, but my first impressions were good. Based on some reviews that I had read online, I was deathly afraid that the Carbon X’s would run small, but they ended up fitting nicely – while wearing my Kalenji thin socks from Decathlon, they might even have been a little big. Thankfully, the lacing system was able to overcome this and I was able to get a good lockdown on my foot, all while maintaining a lot of space in the toe box.

*angelic sounds continue*

Taking my first few steps, I was already acutely aware of the carbon fibre influence in the shoe – what’s slightly different about the carbon fibre plate in the Carbon X (as compared to other shoes with carbon fibre plates) is that it is shaped like a two-pronged fork, the shorter prong towards the outside of the shoe and the bigger, with the longer prong coming under the big toe. The net effect is that you feel like the shoe is not only rolling you forward (thanks to the meta rocker), but rolling you onto your big toe for the toe off which is supposed to be the best way to run.

Once I got over that, I noticed the cushioning. The Carbon X is the first HOKA I’ve owned, but I was recently trying the Clifton 6 at Running Lab as it was supposed to be closer to the original Clifton 1 that everyone raves about. The Carbon X definitely doesn’t feel as soft as the Clifton 6, however it is still extremely cushioned and still more cushioned by a long way compared to the other shoes in my inventory.

By this time, everyone had their shoes on and the official proceedings were starting. After some brief introductions, we all headed out in three groups: 5:30/km pace, 6:00/km pace, and the last group at 6:30/km or less. Naturally, I stuck to the last group as my weekly average pace is close to 7:00/km and I didn’t want to overdo it before my half marathon next week (July 7th).

The run we went on was around the Punggol Waterway Park, which for me was a first, but I really enjoyed the run as it alternated between pavement and trails. The only unfortunate thing about the first part of the run was that our group actually set out at a 6:00/km pace and much of the group faded away after 3km. I still managed to stick with the pace leaders, but I can’t say that it was super comfortable.

Run, Forest, run!

Thankfully the pace eased over the next few kilometres and I was able to find a good rhythm to stick to. Pocari was one of the sponsors for the event and the first drinks stop was a welcome interlude, however the next drinks stop was slightly less welcome – in fact, the group I was running in missed it completely as it was hidden from the running track. Thankfully I run with very little hydration normally, but I was hopefully those behind me didn’t also miss it.

So how did the Carbon X’s feel to run in? To be honest, I felt like I’d been running in them for months already – there was no break-in required, the extremely thin upper seemed to be doing it’s job in keeping everything well ventilated, and the cushioning was sublime on a run like this. My only gripe is that they are so very white that I felt myself tiptoeing around puddles as we transitioned to a dirt track that had recently been rained on.

Keeping pace with Jeri Chua, HOKA ambassador and founder of Red Dot Running Company

At some point, the pace leaders for my group broke off to get a drink while I kept trudging along and I quickly ended up alone. This worked out for me as I used the time to get used to pacing at 6:30/km – I’m intended to run at this pace for most of next week’s half marathon. At some point (around 13.5km), however, I got a bit lost – the organisers had been quite good at directing runners in the right direction at various intersections, however I presumed that the group I had started out with may have spread out more than they could handle. Rather than get completely lost, I just took a breather and waited for some other runners who knew the route.

At just about 16.7km, I saw the HOKA ONE ONE flags emerge from the walls of the Waterway and made sure to finish strong. Drenched in sweat, the organisers took us through cool down exercises and a brief talk on the shoes themselves. A very rushed session on the importance of arm position and alignment of body parts during running followed, but for the most part it was information that was fairly common sense for experienced runners. Still, it was appreciated, if rushed.

This is my “send help” face

That concluded the “Exploration RUN Workshop with HOKA ONE ONE” event. Overall it was well-organised with only a few hiccups, and I enjoyed myself as well as the shoes. In terms of value, I would very much recommend you jump on any future sessions like these if you know you want the shoes that are being promoted. While you are taking a bit of a risk with the size and fit of the shoes, the dollar value that you get from the end is worth it – this event ran me $249 SGD, which is $50 less than the retail price of the shoes, not even including the cost of the t-shirt, goodies, and info session.

Till next time, happy running!

Running Average – An Introduction

2018, 1 B.S. (Before Singapore)

My name is Stephen Yuen. I’m an engineer who’s maintained a moderate level of fitness throughout my 30 years so far, mostly playing basketball and a fairly stereotypical bodybuilding phase in my early 20’s. I’ve always described myself as a sprinter rather than as a runner, mainly because I never had the patience to run long distances.

I moved to Singapore with my wife in 2018 after having lived in Sydney for the first 29 years of my life, and struggled to find a form of exercise that fit into our new lifestyles. Then in August 2018, my company offered us the opportunity to take part in the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, at which point I decided (with much self- and peer-pressure) to sign up for the 10km race. This was longer than I could ever remember running, at least continuously, and I knew I would have to train to give myself a chance at doing the distance.

As with most new things I decide to pick up as a regular activity, I researched. A lot. Unfortunately, knowing everything is never quite the same as acting on it and starting training for the first time is always the hardest. My Strava profile will show that my first training run was for 1.94km on October 2nd, roughly two months from the race. Also unfortunately, I would only run 6 more times covering a maximum of 5km (though some lack of training was due to attending a funeral and it’s proceedings).

This is my “are we there yet?” look

As you might expect then, the 10km race was a bit of a challenge for me and at the time, it felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done.

The first 5km were manageable and I was in good spirits as I was keeping up with some athletic-looking people.

After 6km, my hip flexor started tightening up.

At 7km, my back tightened up.

At 8km, my feet felt like I was running on knives. And not the good kind of knives.

At 9km, I had to stop and walk as I was completely gassed, and the accumulated pain of impending injuries were nigh on unbearable.

This isn’t the look of someone who’s happy

Crossing the finish line at 10km at a show and painful jog, I wasn’t feeling so much a feeling of accomplishment as I was feeling relief – relief that it was over; relief that my brief foray into distance running had told me what I’d always known about myself: I wasn’t a runner, I was a sprinter.

The week after didn’t exactly inspire me either.

I had colleagues who had entered the marathon and valiantly completed it, displaying their gargantuan medals as proof while limping around the office (well-deservedly) regaling everyone with their hard fought physical and mental battles.

Thanks to my various injuries and splitting feet ache, I was also limping around, and while I amused myself by deprecating my injuries in a humorous light, something clicked inside me and I felt a deep sense of dissatisfaction with my performance. I was reminded that what I had done was a great achievement given my athletic background, though this really only helped to fuel what happened next.

A week later, I decided that running those 10km in $40 Puma “running” shoes was probably an ill-conceived idea and set out to buy a decent pair of running shoes. I ended up with a pair of Nike Free RN 2018, which was the rekindling of my love for premium sports shoes, though that’s a story for another time.

Two weeks later in Sydney while visiting my family, I decided to start running again, this time aiming never to be as injured or frightfully unprepared for a run as I was for that first 10km. For whatever reason, I was determined to make this work as my regular exercise, and while that took some time, it’s been a tough, but rewarding, journey so far.

Marina Run – 10km, February 2019

2XU Compression Run – 10km, April 2019

Trifactor Run-Swim-Run – 10.5km run, June 2019

Fast forward to today, I’m running about 30-40km a week, with 3 more 10km races under my belt, fighting to be consistent week in and week out, and targeting to complete a full marathon by the end of November this year.

While I’m still reluctant to call myself a runner, I think I can safely say that I was wrong about myself: maybe I wasn’t just a sprinter.

All I needed was a little push.

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