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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Week 1: Foundation Building

A week in the life of an endurance runner... 8/3-8/9

First of all, I don't run every hour I wake up.  I just wish that I could.  Haha.  But the thing is, most people don't know what it takes to be an endurance runner, and it's not too much.  It's just building a habit for yourself.  It's a lifestyle that supports me and as I live my life, I take steps towards my goals.  Here's a recap of the runs I did during this past week.

Sunday:  8.67 miles at 6:56 min/mile average, speed work trading off 1 mile easy with 2 miles hard.  12.52 miles at 7:10 min/mile average, just sped up as I went on.
Monday:  Led a running group, ran 1.66 miles at a 10:52 min/mile.
Tuesday:  10.33 miles at 7:42 min/mile, speeding up as I went on.  8.63 miles at 9:50 min/mile running with a running group at Haw Ridge, just a fun run and miles!
Wednesday:  12.04 miles at 8:26 min/mile.  I was dehydrated and was running back from dropping my car off at the shop, so it wasn't exactly the most fun I've had while running.
Thursday:  16.43 miles at 7:17 min/mile speeding up as I ran.  Rested over 24 hours since Wednesday's run, so I felt good and it was a night run in a park, so really easy to run fast.
Friday:  0 miles because it's my absolute rest day.
Saturday:  21.33 miles at 8:07 min/mile doing a big loop.  First 6 miles were extra slow so I wouldn't run out of water or energy during the later part of the day.  8.05 miles at 6:51 min/mile at the park speeding up as I ran on but I stopped because I developed a blister that popped.  No fun, but hey, that's one reason to stop.
Total:  99.5 miles

My original plan for the week was 70, but apparently, my legs are stronger because Mondays and Fridays are my break days and I'm able to somewhat recover on those days.  I've talked to quite a few people and have been told that if I can, I should just add more miles every week so that I would be able to maximize however many miles I could do in 24 hours.  Eventually, I'm hoping that I'll get close to running 200 miles of running each week... but we'll see what happens, haha.

After each of these runs, I would make sure to do a full body stretch, which is important because I want my muscles to fully recover for the next run.  Thursdays, I also lead a fitness group so we do a little more, so that'll be my core workout day.  I'm hoping to incorporate more push ups, crunches, pull ups, calf raises, and squats to my workout, but we'll see what happens as I get closer to my goal.  First stop, 103.8 mile race in GA, the Georgia Jewel.  Going to see how well I can do that, and I've got 7 more weeks to train for it!  The most important thing I want to come out with from that race is the psychological strength... but it would be nice to get the course record too!

As for meals, it's rather simple.  Unfortunately, I only eat three times a day, and eat pretty simply.  Breakfast consists of a generous portion of rice, 6 eggs with the yolk warm and runny mixed with soy sauce, and natto on the rice.  Packed with carbs and protein, I want to make sure I start out the day great.  Lunch and dinner would most of the time be rice with chicken or tilapia with assorted vegetables, and once in a while pasta.  Once a week, I try to eat something bad so that I would be able to visit my grandparents as they don't exactly eat the healthiest and I end up sick to my stomach because their instant food just kills me... but yeah.  Try to eat healthy all the time.  I only drink water (or unsweet tea) so not much other than that.

Of course, being a little on the serious side, I'm always researching online for ways that I could improve my training, change my race plan, adjusting my race training schedule, nutrition research... but other than that, my life is pretty normal.  I also would randomly read manga (Japanese comics) that have motivational characters, or I would just go on youtube and look up motivational videos that would encourage me as I go through my training.

Since training only takes out a little over 12 hours a week (so far), it isn't too much of a bother, and doesn't really intrude on anything else that goes on.  As the training gets harder and the 12 turns into 20 or 30 hours a week, then it starts affecting the other portions of my life, but thus far, I've been able to balance everything out.  The thing is, if you really want to become better, you put time and effort in it.  It doesn't matter if it's running, schoolwork, a relationship, learning an instrument, if you really care about it and want to improve as much as you can, you have to sacrifice a little to do your best.  I think that it's easy for me to do that because I'm a pretty simple person.  If I want to become a better runner, I will whole-heartedly go for it, because I'm that kind of guy.  I go where my heart wants me to go, and I will relentlessly pursue it because it matters to me, and I will take all the necessary steps to make it happen.  Having a dream of being one of the top endurance runners in the world, I feel like I have what it takes.  All I need to do is pursue it.

Hope everyone enjoyed reading a little about this one week of Sho-ness!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Unconventional Truth: DESIRE

I have run marathons to train for different races, I've run a few races that have gone beyond 100 miles, I have made a course record last month, running 123.775 miles in 24 hours, but I am your average everyday person.

I have never believed that I had exceptional talent when it came to running these endurance races.  I don't see how I could possibly have a gift when it came to running because I consider myself to be just the same as everyone else in the world.  The only gift I believe I have is the gift of music, learning to play most instruments I can lay my hands on... but when it comes to running... I don't think I'm any different than the person that's sitting across from me as I'm typing all this down at Starbucks.

There is one thing, however, that does separate me from others.  I have embedded in me this hunger.  It was a hunger that could not be satisfied because there was always something more I could do to reach higher, run faster, become stronger...

Running has been with me since 7th grade when I got bored of my soccer team and wanted to do something else. I joined Cross Country because it wasn't just a team sport, but also an individual sport.  In getting into it, I learned that the more I practiced, the more I could improve, and so I started practicing harder than the others, and push myself more... but I could only get to a certain point.  There was always somebody faster than me, someone with more talent.  Even with hard work, I could never beat talent... but I wanted to see how far I could go with the hard work I put in.  By the time high school came around, I was slowly going up and getting to the point where I would be able to somewhat be in the top 20, but there was always that one guy who had so much talent that he would beat every single one of us... but I was catching up.  In the summer, I would go out and run 10+ miles every other day, while doing push ups and calf raises so that I could become stronger.  I kept pushing myself harder and eventually became stronger... but I could still never catch up with the number one runner... who was also one of my good friends.

My senior year, we were able to go down to Guam to battle it out against all the other international schools in the Far East, and after getting 14th place, the next day we did the team relays, and I don't even remember how we did there... but the Sunday afterwards, our coach asked the team if we would like to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles.  I had never run a race that long and being curious, a couple guys and I decided that we would run it.  I finished in 1:37:23 at 10th place, and first in my age group, over ten minutes ahead of the second place individual in my age group.  I shook hands with the 1972 gold medalist Frank Shorter, who handed me my award, and that was the moment, I knew I had something.  The following year, when I came to America for college, I signed up, trained, and finished my first marathon at 12th place with a time of 3:11:38, 1st place in my age group.  Two years later, I trained for that same marathon and finished in 7th place at 2:56:05, 1st place in my age group... but even with the hard work, it seemed as if I was missing something.  There was so much intensity in the training, but the results weren't good enough for me.  After graduating college, a friend of mine told me about a 50 mile race in Atlanta, which would take place in 2 months, and being the not so smart individual that I am, I decided to sign up train, and run.  I finished in 58th place... and that hunger was there.  I knew I could do more.  I knew that I could get better, run faster, and finish stronger.

You see, the hunger that I found was my desire to see how far I could go.  I wanted to test my limits, break them even, and forge new ones.  From that point, I started studying about ultradistance races, trained and ran a few, and came to a point where that desire was pulling me to the next level.  I have talked to several amazing runners and have learned from them all, I have studied thousands of articles, some for facts, others for inspiration, and come out stronger but mentally and psychologically.  You see, I am but a normal person who is forging himself to become a monster.  In order to challenge the monsters that are at the top of the ultra running spectrum, I need to bring in everything I've got.  The results I have right now come from the thousands of hours of research, experimentation, application, training that I've put in.  It's not talent that drives me forward.  It's my desire.

My desire to grow and challenge myself in the best possible way to lead to the best possible result has slowly put me up to being able to compete against a few of the monsters in this side of the States.  Through my desire, I have been able to grow steadily, pushing my very own body to the next level, and achieved so much... and now I have the opportunity to start challenging the elite runners.  It could still be too early for me to challenge the monsters that 'rule' the world of ultramarathon running, but the fact is that my desire was able to get me up to that point where I have the opportunity to do so.  Talent is not the sole variable which allows an individual to compete at a higher level, especially in the field of ultra marathon distances.  It's the hunger within that drives people to greatness.

Desire gives strength to those who wield it.  It creates opportunities where there seems to be none.  Desire gives a boost to the individual's ability, sharpening their senses, pushing the unimportant things aside thus allowing more energy to be used for the individual's journey towards their goal.

When I was in middle school, I was an avid reader, reading a dozen books a week, and taking in everything each book had to offer.  The biggest thing reading has done for me was helping me understand that there is always a bigger picture, an 'outside of the box' way of thinking.  If we nurture our minds, it can create anything, and make impossible things exist.  The more we learn about rules, we learn how we can break them, and because of that, it's now possible to fly to the moon.  Impossible was a limit that people set, but creativity allowed others to break those rules and create new ones.  Desire is one of the driving forces that allows the impossible to become possible, and the best part about it is that we all have that potential.

Whether it be running a 100 mile race at an elite level, or finishing a paper with 1 hour left before midnight, the stronger the desire is, the the greater power it gives you.  If you want it as badly as you want to live, you will find away.  Haven't you always wondered how there are families in this world that can barely survive because of the lack of income, but when something tragic happens and there's a great need for money, they are somehow able to raise enough money to get through.  The thing is that if there is enough desire, the laws of this world do not apply.  Desire is the fuel for success, and if you desire success badly, there isn't anything in the world that can stop you.

We all have the potential of using that desire to fuel us to our success, however, the problem with most people is the lack of desire, the unbelief, the weak willed and 'realistic' people who deem various things impossible.  It's great that you may be realistic, that you may listen to how logic states that certain things are impossible, but completely living in that world puts a lid to your growth potential.  It pushes dreams down, and growth becomes minimal.

So how can you tap into your desire?  How can you break away from the realistic and logical world that we live in?  If we let go of everything and stop differentiating between the realistic and unrealistic, it's as if the world we live in could fall apart.

Realistic and unrealistic doesn't draw a line between possible and impossible, and most people seem to forget that.  Sure, being unrealistic may seem impossible, but in actuality, it falls under the category 'improbable' which is a subcategory of possible.  Understanding that simple thing can help a few people take a step towards allowing their desire to fuel them to take steps forward towards their dreams.  Simply put, you don't have to forsake everything in order to pursue your desire.  Find the root of that desire, and let that be what guides you.  It's not the million dollar goal that people have that fuels them to finding a way to earn that amount of money, it's the security that comes with it that they're yearning for.  Get to your roots, understand what you really want, and let that be the desire that fuels you onward.

and hey...

If you do desire something so badly, nothing can stop you.

I'm just a normal person rising up in the ranks, about to challenge the monsters in the ultra distance world.  What gives me that opportunity is my desire.  I want to be the best that I can be, the best in the world, and I will take whatever steps I can in order to achieve that.  Desire gives me strength, it gives me opportunities, and it gives me hope.