Letters of Life

Born to Run rss

Running is fun, mostly. Running mirrors a lot of life too.

Reflections Upon A Half Marathon

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21:33, Thursday, 5 September, 2013

Prior to last weekend, I’d only ever run 10 km races. Last Sunday,  I ran my first, and most probably my last, half marathon. I was one of fifteen thousand who ran in the Army Half Marathon, of which at least ninety per cent were men, and more than half that were serving their stint… Read More ›

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A Run by the Sea

Living thirty minutes from the sea, I rarely go there except on long weekends, and most likely not at seven in the morning.  But the past month has seen me drive into the parking lot at Carl’s Junior on Saturdays when the sky is darkly tinted and there’s a strong breeze rustling the pillars of… Read More ›

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Fit to Write: On Becoming a *Real* Runner

Eight weeks ago, I signed up and, what’s more important, paid up, for a half marathon, or what’s known in running parlance as a half. Prior to this, I’d sworn off joining any more races. In my last three 10K races, I’d clocked no PRs (personal records), nursed a heavy head and suffered post-race hydration… Read More ›

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Recovery

Today, Saturday, is a brand new morning. The skies haven’t been this blue for a long time, and the early-morning clouds are feathery, fluffy, full of glee. On such a morning, all the runners are out in the open. They’ve slipped on their runners, turned on their running apps, and have, with grateful abandon, hit… Read More ›

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A Milestone in Running

The thoughts that occur to me while I’m running are like clouds in the sky. Clouds of all different sizes. They come and they go, while the sky remains the same sky as always. The clouds are mere guests in the sky that pass away and vanish, leaving behind the sky. The sky both exists… Read More ›

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Cadence

I love the way it sounds. Cadence. It could be a girl’s name. Cadence is rhythmic flow, the footfall in the inflection of a voice at the tail of a sentence, the beat of movement expressed by dancers, musicians, poets, and soldiers. In runners, the meaning is a little more prosaic, and is merely the… Read More ›

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Lassitude (or Taking a HIIT)

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is something I’ve been dabbling in lately. Twenty seconds of intense, all-out activity followed by 10 seconds of less-intense recovery for a total of eight sets (or just four minutes) of this high-low intensity pairing. Apparently, this kind of intense exercise causes a longer after-burn in between training. All I… Read More ›

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How to Get Good At Something Without Really Trying

This morning, I ran with a girl friend. At the end of the five-kilometre route, she said I was faster than before. What was my trick? I said I only ran once a week, and at most 7 km, if it came to that. Mostly, my runs averaged only 40 minutes. She pointed out that… Read More ›

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Embrittlement

Something has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it . . .  Carol King, Tapestry (1971) Burnout is something you’ve all felt before. That feeling of deep tiredness, fatigue, that terrifying listlessness one struggles against. One cause of burnout, I learned recently, is not so much that we’re solving problems, but… Read More ›

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Running at the Speed of Light

The four men walked briskly to the start point of the trail, a path of bright earth hemmed on both sides by stands of trees by the edge of the reservoir lake. Joining us regulars was the “new” guy, a seasoned marathoner-Ironman type. Typically, he took off at the get-go. The rest of us, in… Read More ›

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Red

Part six in the Colour series. Firecracker, fire engine Fire-flicker red— And when you’re angry Red runs through your head. — From Mary O’Neill’s What is Red?  With me, it only takes a straw, usually the last one, that breaks the camel’s back (mine) and then I see red and go ballistic.  It’s never the big… Read More ›

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Post-Race Analysis

The morning of Race Day was dry, on hindsight miraculously bookended by mornings so stormy you’d have second thoughts driving out unless you had to. But I was oblivious. As I left the apartment, the sky black as night and a too-early breakfast of snack bar and cocoa sitting heavily inside, I suddenly remembered my… Read More ›

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And I Will Run The Race

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or… Read More ›

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Five Reasons Why Trekking Beats Shopping

Three Things I Learned About Life From Trekking #1: That it’s good to get out of the valley and start walking up the hill. Taking a hike uphill means climbing out of the valley. It’s a chance to refocus. As you walk your way up, all you hear are the sound of cicadas and myriad… Read More ›

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On Climbing. Trekking. Take Your Pick.

Never measure the height of a mountain until you reach the top. Then you will see how low it was.  — Dag Hammerskjold. A famous person, ok, George Mallory (1886–1924), has been attributed to saying he climbed Mount Everest because “it is there.” We all know that people who climb mountains are high achievers, yes, game… Read More ›

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Rain Running

Every street lamp that I pass Beats like a fatalistic drum, And through the spaces of the dark Midnight shakes the memory As a madman shakes a dead geranium. — T S Eliot, Rhapsody on a Windy Night A rainstorm ran into me on the road today. It was a new experience. The soft rain… Read More ›

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A Run In The Park

Walking trails lace the forests of the nature reserve and wind around the reservoir lake. Entering the main trail which leads into the heart of the forest was like coming home. It had been at least three months. The beaten track was welcoming beneath my runners, and I kept the pace with a friend whom… Read More ›

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Staring at the Sun

I am not obese nor do I have weight problems. So why am I swimming and then putting on runners and running down the road towards the Gardens like there’s no tomorrow? Exercising is supposed to make you feel good. That’s why you push yourself out of bed and out the door into the warm… Read More ›

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Off The Wall

The wall I was talking about? It’s still there. Oh, I’m not fenced in. Yet. But I must admit I am editing my thoughts and ideas even as they come in, like acquaintances through my front door, invited, but suddenly screened in the hallway just as they’ve taken off their shoes. I look them up… Read More ›

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Post-Race Reflections of Fellow Running Mates

The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” — John Bingham (b. 1948), American marathon runner who believes that the goals of running are to have fun and finish—and that for a vast majority of amateur athletes running fast should not be the only aim. We five… Read More ›

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A Day At The Race

No matter how great the attraction of the solitary hours spent on the road, home is the centrifugal epicentre of safety and belonging where each run begins and ends. — Robin Harvie, Why We Run: A Story of Obsession Everything is relative. Never more so when it comes to a sport like running. To seasoned… Read More ›

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Racing Against Time

There is a Race coming up. Instead of running, I’ve been eating, sitting, shopping. I haven’t been immobile, if that’s what you’re thinking, on the beach in that mythical island I wrote recently about. But that’s not the same as running as if your life depended on it. When time is running out, one suddenly… Read More ›

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The Pain of Running

“The only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain.” –Karl Marx Having one’s form analyzed, especially when it comes to the biomechanics of running, is a complex thing. Worse, and I don’t know why no one told me this before and I kick myself for not bothering to find out, wanting to find out how… Read More ›

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Running on a High

The group of runners set off without me; I was figuring out which knobs on my new Casio sports watch reset the stopwatch. By the time I picked up my pace, the others were at least a short slope up ahead. I bounded up the incline and caught up with the group in no time…. Read More ›

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One Way You Can Slow Down Time

If you want time to slow down, start running. This applies to distances of more than two km. Time slows down in direct proportion to distance: The longer the run, the slower time gets. It’s perception. But isn’t all of life perception? I’ve never been so aware of the 45 minutes or the 60 minutes… Read More ›

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Running in the Family

For a change, the evening run was moved to East Coast Park. The route was a literally straightforward 7 km run. All day, I looked forward to it, the thought of running by the sea with my pals on a flat path, no elevations and hard climbs, and a good dinner after. It was going… Read More ›

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Lessons from a Ski Slope (Part II)

This is a phrase widely quoted: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” (Obvious lesson here.) I didn’t get to ski anymore during my stay at the Hokkaido ski resort because rising temperatures and all-night rain melted most of the snow by the next morning. I was surprised to see grass—previously… Read More ›

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Lessons from a Ski Slope (Part 1)

In the ski town of Niseko, Hokkaido, one takes a chairlift for a 10-minute ride up a hill. I’ve been to a few bunny slopes before– Michigan, Indiana, Vancouver–and these were *real* bunny slopes:100m mounds you slid down endlessly until you found your feet. I imagine today’s was a mother bunny slope, five times as… Read More ›

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How Running Can Make Things Better

23:27 You gotta press play on this one. It’s one of those videos from another time, a golden era of new music. China Crisis was one of those one-hit wonder Brit bands, but this video unerringly captures the shades of a distant past. Ever have one of those days when things are going swimmingly, but… Read More ›

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