Ever wondered what gets runners going? Or how one even gets started in the beginning? We speak to 5 different women from different walks of life as they share with us their story behind picking up this habit. Don’t miss out on their tips to get yourself started too!
Johanna started running in Kuala Lumpur in 2011, at the age of 40. She has ran 11 half marathons and would like to attempt her first full marathon this June. “I was an avid walker and a regular gym-goer so I was already very fit but it seemed like everyone I knew was running, both in Malaysia and back home in Ireland. I had no interest in running at all but wondered what I was missing out on. I like new challenges and it was certainly a challenge to start running!”
“Running seemed very hard at the very beginning but I fell in love with it so now I don’t need any external motivation to push me out the door. It makes me feel great mentally and I enjoy the sense of freedom that it gives me while out training. When I run, I have a sense that it is great to be alive (most of the time).”
“I don’t think I’ve changed much physically because of running, but mentally it has been a powerful tool in boosting self-esteem and attaining a sense of accomplishment. At times, running can be very humbling, as one becomes aware of the limits of one’s body. Conversely, it is amazing what the body can achieve when you train well.”
Johanna’s advice for picking up the habit:
“My biggest piece of advice for beginners is to find a running buddy or two, or to join a running group. Running feels a lot easier when with friends. And once you start running, you’ll find that you make a lot of friends! It is also important to combine running with some strength training to avoid injury. Once started, it is a great idea to train towards a particular event or race. There are many online training programs available but a local coaching group can also be of great benefit in ensuring you are getting the most out of your running. I would encourage everyone, men and women, to run. There is a fantastic running community in Malaysia ready to welcome new runners of all abilities and genders. For busy women, with careers and children, running can offer some invaluable ‘me-time’ while being of great benefit emotionally and physically. I’d much rather run for a few hours a week than sit around being pampered in a spa. Running is a time-efficient, low-cost way of getting and staying fit which has long term benefits as we age. It is the perfect antidote to sedentary, computer-focussed lifestyles”
Johanna Leahy is The Expat Runner. She is Irish, and has lived in many countries including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines with her Danish husband and three children. She currently lives in Perth, Australia. She was originally an engineer in the medical devices industry but has been freelance writing and blogging about lifestyle and health issues for 15 years. She ran her first race at Sepang in April 2012 and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of her life proving that sometimes what seems impossible is actually possible. Follow Johanna’s running journey at http://expatrunner.com/
CHAN WEN LI
“I took up running in a bid to stay active after recovering from a kneecap dislocation (the injury was not running-related). Not thinking that running seemed remotely possible with a ‘bad knees’, one of my proudest moments was when I first hit my 10KM mark – after months of researching, reading books on running technique and running injury-free; and training at a neighbourhood park, increasing my mileage very gradually. I went on to run even up to the 7th month of my pregnancy (with my doctor’s approval, of course).”
Wen Li started running at the age of 34, and transitioning back to running after her pregnancy helped keep her sane while battling post-partum depression and anxiety. So far in 2016, she has had her first attempt in trail-running at the Compressport Trail Challenge and she would like to complete her second and third Full Marathons by mid of the year.
“I love being outdoors, and there is often a wonderful camaraderie amongst fellow runners you meet along the way – whether in races or amongst friends who run or in a running group. It’s also a way of getting some time to myself, to clear my mind or just let my mind wander, to relax. I do also push myself to test and learn my limitations and slowly overcome increasing goals – it’s a very gradual process, but it’s rewarding when you realise you’ve improved and become stronger and more self-aware.”
When asked about the difference running has made for her, she says, “It’s common for runners to be told that running is bad for their knees – the opposite appears to be true in my case – running has helped improve the strength of my lower limbs, including the muscles that stabilise the knee. However that’s not as easy as it sounds – in the early stages, it took a lot of sweat and tears (no blood, fortunately..) to learn proper running techniques and how to run injury-free, but it’s paid off – I used to run with kneeguards, now I don’t anymore, even on trails.”
Wen Li’s advice for beginners:
“It would be good to read up as much as you can on running techniques – go to a bookstore with a good selection of running books, or get them online – and to try out those techniques at your own pace (I benefitted greatly from this). Good running technique may not come naturally for everyone, and even seasoned runners would benefit from gaining more knowledge on how to improve their performance. It may be useful to join a running group, where one can benefit from the support, motivation and guidance from fellow runners.
Wen Li is a lecturer by profession and Co-Founder and Chief Cartoonist of Malaysia’s first comic strip on running, Running Toons which was the Official Cartoon Partner of the upcoming Malaysia Women Marathon 2016. You can follow her doodle work on www.facebook.com/RunningToons and her writing on running at ‘Living On The Run’ http://speedshuffle.wordpress.com.