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Comeliness of a long distance runner

Updated: 2014-10-20 13:56
By Huang Xiangyang (China Daily)

Many runners think the same way. For, who would not be mesmerized seeing the world's best runners standing at arm's length at the start line, before heading out on cordoned-off streets as tens of thousands of people cheer along the way where free booster drinks and snacks are served. I feel overwhelmed. The hours on the running track are my Cinderella moment. I don't want to beat the clock. I want the party to go on. It is my time of self-discovery as I believe each minute I am closer to finding the meaning of something greater than myself.

"The feeling is cool," some may say, "but I am not specially built to run a marathon."

That is, excuse my expression, balderdash.

Unlike speed, which is hard to gain through training, endurance and stamina are inherent to human beings - ready to be activated through just several months of proper workout. And they are all you need to finish your first 42.195 kilometers.

US talk-show hostess Oprah Winfrey, who used to battle weight problem, ran her first marathon in four hours. Julie Weiss, a 42-year-old California mother of two, ran 52 marathons in a year - one a week starting in March 2012 - in memory of her dad who died of pancreatic cancer.

If you think those are great feats, check out Stefaan Engels. The Belgian who used to suffer from asthma ran 365 marathons in 365 days from February 2010 to February 2011, just to inspire people. "If I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, anyone could run or bike a little each day or do something about their weight problem," he said.

Of course, the process is tough. You need to prepare and train. You need to enforce some discipline to make running a regular part of your life. And you have to say goodbye to some of your favorite snacks.

But these are steps you have to take to be a better human. The choice is yours. Just as Japanese writer and runner Haruki Murakami puts it: "Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."

The author is a senior editor of China Daily.huangxiangyang@chinadaily.com.cn

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