Running with Heart

On my 3rd cup of coffee, scrolling through news and blogs as I patiently wait for the next patient. In the comfort of the clinic/office, it is easy to forget that there is a world out there. Like most, it is more of a habit taking or at least feigning interest in the affairs of the world, lest we lose touch. Not only in the form of news websites but God forbid Facebook updates, just to stay 'connected'.

A particular blog caught my attention. It was recommended by Jamie Pang. The author Nathan Pennington, an elite marathoner with a military background and a PB of 2:19. This particular article talks about running with your heart.

When I first got serious about marathon running in 2009, I read up articles, books and runners websites for information, tips, programs and advice like a ravenous wolf, devouring anything I could get my hands on. I tried various methods that I thought would improve my marathon time. And some actually did help, but the down side was, I suffered a classical case of runner's indigestion: Too much information, conflicting ideas and eventually leading to detrimental results.

Yes, it was a lot of trial and error. Being self trained and a working class like Yuki Kawauchi (not at all implying I am in the same league!) with a full time job (and on calls), it was not a hobby that seemed worthy of all the aggravation. But, all said, what else would I rather do with my time?...

So, the article takes on a more philosophical approach. Challenging us to think about the way we train. Instead of blindly following a program, we should seek balance in training by discovering what works for us. Undoubtedly, no matter how impressive or comprehensive the program is, there is no guarantee of success for all. We are all so uniquely different.

With due respect to the likes of Hal Higdon, Lydiard, Pfitzinger, FIRST programs and countless others who endeavour to improve the way we train, one cannot simply adopt a methodology and claim it as the holy grail. Besides, there are simply too many variables on race day to alter the fate of even a well prepared elite. Do you think Yuki Kawauchi was any less of a marathoner on that fateful day of 26 Feb 2012 when he unexpectedly faltered and ended up with a 2:12? Just have a look at how he trained, I have not seen a more driven man! Yet, such tragedy could befall anyone, even the elite.

My target and dream in marathon running is to achieve that elusive sub 3. Well, honestly, there are days where I have serious doubts that I could ever do that in this life time. With a severely under mileage 60-70 km week, I can only hope that attempts to increase it to 100km/week could path the passageway to my dream. But we all know that it is not a guarantee, even if I stay injury free.

Seriously, how DO you run with your heart? How driven are you? How badly do you want that PB? How much are you willing to sacrifice for that goal?

I can think of many past failures and I am pretty sure I haven't seen the last of it yet. But all lead to one conclusion: I am mentally and physically stronger because of them. But I do not take that as a consolation. But a reassurance that I am on the right path of discovery. I am discovering more about running as I strive to achieve my goal. I am finding out what works for me. I am learning how to run the best possible race by working with what I have. As for certain areas that require more attention, like increasing the mileage and speed, I am a bit more patient now to listen and work on it. Not too much nor too little but just enough to stay injury free and progress. 

I always believe with a certain conviction that: If you do not have a heart big enough for a certain glory, then, it is perhaps not your time yet. In other words, if I am not ready for it, there is no use trying to force something out of nothing and getting a false sense of security and deluding myself. If I do not have the capacity to handle the success of sub 3, then I am not ready for it. Your heart has to be so driven for it. Sort of overcompensates for it.

But of course, a sure and steady, day in and day out effort would be quintessential to any success. Fulfil that, coupled with lots of heart, the race horse is ready to hit the starting gates!


  1. Well said. I've completely given up following the many running programmes out there simply because of my other commitments that get in the way most of the time. Instead I've learned to run with my heart and my gut feel on what really works best for me. After all, no one knows me better than myself, right?

    Happy Feet

    1. Yes, Nick. Having a structured program is only an aid. Use it only as a blue print. But your heart and passion is what really drives it. I believe in the scientific backing of training programs. But I also listen to my body. Ultimately, work in unison with it and you will come to enjoy running more!

  2. Since I get serious in marathon I've put myself in a structured program. One day of missing off the program will bring that guilt on me that "am I not trying hard enough?" There's this thought after the race whether "what if I didn't slip that few days?" It sometimes gave frustration, when there's commitment that couldn't avoid, thus questioning myself or blame everything around.

    There are a lot of days that I feel reluctant to run, but still pushed the body for it. Today I finally took a voluntary off from the program, self declared, surrender to the cumulative fatigue.

    Finding a personalized way, that's the difficult part for me.

  3. I've been following training program since I serious in running. There always been time that I missed a training and asked "am I not trying hard enough?" There were days I get frustrated when I have to interrupt the training for other event (work-related, gathering, etc). I also asked after a race, "what would it be if I didn't missed those days?"

    There were days when I feel too tired to go out and asked "why am I doing all this?"

    To individualize my training is my problem. "Running with heart"... I still need to learn on that..

  4. Yes, Kent. I feel the same too. And work commitments can sometimes be such a drag! But I suppose when there is a will, there is a way! You will find time to adjust and adapt to the demands of the daily grind. Don't be put off by an off day or missed workout. Make up for it when u can and don't look back. Running with "Heart" isn't anything new. It just means running with a determination like no other. How driven are you? That, is the main question only you can answer....

  5. Hi Francis, can I add your blog url to my blog in "Blog That I Follow" list?

  6. of course Kent! You are more than welcome to do so....


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