The limits we set

There is something about Yuki Kawauchi that impresses me. There are many sub 2:10 elite runners in the world. But Kawauchi stands out for a number of reasons. For one, his unique disposition as an anti-establishment rouge 'hero' has earned him his famed status. Well received, particularly among the Japanese, he's known as the "citizen runner". Because like you and me, he works full time. In his case, in a high school at Saitama Prefecture. Yet, he finds the time to train for one of the most gruelling and demanding sport of all. The discipline, shear determination and utmost dedication more than inspire a generation of runners cum full time employee/salaryman/family man, people like me, to dare dream it and live it.

And to top it off, he's not mediocre by any standard. He's recent victory at the 62nd Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon was a clear declaration of his prowess in the world of marathon, edging his mark in the Japanese all time greats. As he ran down Kentaro Nakamoto (London Olympics 6th-placing) in the final miles, he emerged the victor with a new course record and a Personal Best of 2:08:15.

Read the race report.

As a runner, what I constantly look for is the inspiration from runners the likes of Yuki Kawauchi. There are elite runners who inspire. But there are those that don't. I am not merely into results either. What is a number to me? It is not as though I could take that to the bank. No, I am not easily swept off my feet with who's fast and whatnot.

But what I look for in a runner is the spirit that drives him. His integrity. People will only see a side of you if you do make it to the limelight. What they won't see is the hours, days and months of training that went into it. Your integrity has a way of showing when nobody's looking.

Kawauchi did "badly" in last year's Tokyo Marathon. And as a show of his sincerity and remorse, he shaved off his hair and made a bald appearance before a shocked media. His critics may call this showmanship. I won't argue with you on that. But as I viewed the local broadcast back then, what I saw was a humbled and contrite man. Yet, behind that downcast demeanour, I saw a man determined to strike back.

And this year's 2:08:15 was his statement. Loud and clear.

I wouldn't have ever dreamt of running a marathon in my life time until I did my first in 2003. Then, I wouldn't have ever thought about running sub 4. But then, I surprised myself in 2009. Beyond that, I didn't think that breaking it close to 3 hours was possible. But last year, 3:05:17 came pretty close. So, I am discovering that limits do not have a say in how far you can go. Ultimately, it's your heart and mind. And your determination and integrity to see it through.

If you are comfortable with a certain limit. Then, you have to live with it. But if you are not happy with it and think that perhaps you should challenge that limit, then go for it. You have one life. Might as well live it to the best of your ability. I would want to be able to say one day, as I lay on my death bed: Wow! What a life I have lived!

Decide for yourself what is important. Of course, you may not share the same passion as I do in running. But in anything and everything else, if it makes you truly happy, don't set a limit on it. Go explore. Go a little wild and live it out. Surprise yourself.


  1. Well written, Francis. It's people like you that inspire me to do what I do. While I may not be able to come anywhere close to what you've achieve and keep on achieving, but your exploits drive me on to push myself for more.

    I know I can do more and I will keep on trying to go one better on myself. Like you said, might as well live my life to the best of my abilities :D

  2. Nick. Yes, the thing is, you can too :) Believe it :)

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  4. I live in Japan, enjoy running - and am a huge Kawauchi fan.
    He ran in local 1/2 marathon where we live as the guest runner of the event, gave a great pre and post race speech (people were cheering him wildly) and in between that he put down a 1:05 1/2 time on a rainy/slippery day - some training run for him...
    Here is a great video about many of the things you just talked about him including the recent Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon:
    And while I am at it... here is from 38 kilometers of the Beppu-Oita Mainichi Marathon where he puts the beatdown on Nakamoto:

    1. Awesome stuff Ted! Thanks for sharing :)
      Wonder if you would be doing the Tokyo Marathon this 24 Feb? I will be there. Too bad won't see Yuki this year.....

    2. Unfortunately am not doing the Tokyo Marathon - have a full next month. Should be great time though - enjoy.

  5. He gives lots of inspiration to me and I like to Youtube his run once a while to give myself motivation. His determination is so strong that he collapsed most of the time after crossing the finish line. The limit is really unknown for him.
    In life we might choose something to fight for and says it's the one. However when things hit a plateau we wonder, is this really the right one? Determination and persistence are hard, and sometimes I have to resort to faith. It's enjoyable when we don't expect the return, but when we start to expect, we look for results.
    Ya I also been counseled, thinking started from own's tombstone. I still haven't see my answer, must try harder.
    Good luck for your Tokyo Marathon 2013!

    1. Kent. I think you certainly have a lot of potential. And youth is also on your side. You can certainly push beyond sub 3. I know you can do it. :)It's a matter of whether you want it badly enough or not.

  6. Awesome sharing and true to its words!..It felt like it touches deep into my inner self..really2 inspired..thanks a lot..

    As i'm now nursing some injury to my right leg, your sharing also made me wanted to get back on the road sooner than ever...


    1. Thanks KAM. I hope that injury heals soon. Well, we all live to inspire and BE inspired in return.
      Keep on breaking the boundaries....


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