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I still remember the days where I used to think that I will never be able to run ever. I always wonder at the way my body has improved and has adjusted itself to be able to endure not just a 5 km run but a 21.5 km run. Yes, yesterday I ran a total of 21.5 km.

As I began the time was 17:00 on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. After having ran 5.5 km, it began to rain. This was the best thing ever to happen to me during a run. The rain was keeping my body cool and functional. I ran a clean 19 km with my body feeling as if I am in a slow 3 km run. The pain began manifest when I was approaching the 20th kilometer. I endured and persisted until I had ran a half marathon (21.1 km) and 400 meters on top.

I can attest that it was the most enjoyable run ever. I was in charge of the pace, the breathing and I listened to my body. I was confident in my strides and I had a smile on my face, a thing I never do during any run. I am looking forward to having a go again on the same 21 km route.

I think what made me enjoy the run is that I was not focusing on the numbers. I did not care about the pace or the time it would take me to complete the run. I only focused on finishing the run and I took necessary steps to ensure that I complete it. Some of those steps are:

Backing off

There is always a temptation to run harder and faster when doing a longer run. The good practice one must subscribe to is to learn to back off. Do not rush things. Save the energy for the rest of the run. When you feel that you are running out of air and you are breathing heavily, it means you are running too hard. Back off until you are able to speak during the run. If you run hard you may find yourself getting tired to quickly. We should always run smarter not harder.

There was absolutely no need for me to run harder nor faster. I was not in a race. I was only running to build my endurance. I succeeded in my effort. I ran the whole predetermined distance and I could have gone even further had the time permitted me.

Correct Running Posture

It is important to maintain a correct running posture. This a relaxed posture. When running you should avoid pulling your arms to your chest and avoid making fists. You should run relaxed. Have your arms swing lower past your hips and with open hands. You are not in the fist fight, you are running. Relax the shoulders. If you run relaxed, you will enjoy the run and you will run longer.

Breathe

The body needs oxygen. The muscles need oxygen, especially when running. Breathe in and fill the belly will air and let the air out. If you cannot breathe, then slow down. In order to be able to control my breathing, I pay attention to it during the warm up process within the first 2 km of my 21 km run. I need to be able to develop a rhythm as I run and breath. If my body want to break that rhythm, I slow down and recover.

There are many tricks and hacks to get going in a long run and they vary from person to person. Over all, if you don’t enjoy the run then you are not doing it correctly. Keep working on it until you are able to run with a smile. Ensure that when you run a long distance, in the last few kilometers, you can pick the pace up and slow down at will.

You know that when you have finished your running session and you feel super exhausted, you’ve had a good work out. Go out there and RUN!!

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INTRODUCTION

Our bodies are incredible machines. They can do stuff we never thought they can. With enough training they can survive the toughest tests life is determined to throw at them. When introduced to the small doses of certain viruses, our bodies are able to form antibodies that can fought off the intruders and also keep memory of them in case they attack again. Our bodies are machines that have learn capabilities and can be train to do many things within the limits of their physical design.

I say they can do many things within the limits of their physical design because we obviously do not our expect our bodies to fly like the birds do. Our physical design does not permit flight. We cannot flap our limbs and fly. we cannot breathe under water like fish do. We do not have physical organs to permit such an enterprise. We do not have mean to climb the walls like spiders and lizards. We cannot efficiently crawl on our bellies like snakes and we cannot gracefully float on water like swans. All these things we cannot do because they are beyond the limits of our physical design.

Having stated what we cannot do, I will move on to deal with what we can do. I will discuss what we can do and what we can improve upon. My aim is that is for us to learn to challenge and push our bodies their lawful limits and try to keep the doctor away in this age many illnesses.

WHAT OUR BODIES CAN DO

We often undermine our bodies and think that they can only perform up to a certain degree which we have prescribed in our minds. What many people do not know is that our bodies are very strong. They have an ability to adapt on order to survive. I have learned that when one is running for his life, he can scale a fence he wouldn’t be able to scale under normal circumstances. They can go through a small opening as though it was a wide open door. At that temporary state of survival our bodies are able to shut down the pain receptors to allow the body to find safety, after which pain will be allowed and let the body give status report on things that needs to be attended to after a given ordeal.

Our Bodies Can Walk

One of the obvious reason is that an average person can work. We can walk short distances and we can walk long distance. We can walk wearing shoes and we can walk on bare feet. We can walk slow and we can walk fast. We can willfully add style on our walk. We can walk and bounce at the same time. We can walk with a straight back and chin up. We can leaning forward, swing our arms or cross our arms behind our backs. What gives such confidence in walking to such an extent that we add some style to make our walk interesting is due to the fact that we have been walking since we were toddlers. Walking is part of us. It has been embed into our existence in such a way that we don’t even think about walking when we walk. We just do it.

Our Bodies Can Run

Just like walking, our bodies can run. Running is an upgraded form of walking. It requires more energy and oxygen to maintain. That is why when we run we breathe heavily and our heart rate increases. For someone who is not used to running, they will get tired quickly and feel some pain in the body after a very short distance. That is why many people make excuses when invited to run. Running terrifies them.

We need to understand that our bodies learn and improve in performance when force to do the same thing over and over again. That is action is called, “practice.” When we practice or train, we are actually teaching our bodies to get better at a given task. You will feel the pain in a short distance but if you repeat the same distance and add a few meters over it, you will find that your body will adapt. It will shape itself to withstand the new challenges posed to itself and thus become stronger and fitter.

My Exhortation to you at this is, go and try something and see if your body can manage. REMEMBER!! Safety first.

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I try by all means not to sound like a typical motivational speaker. Those guys have a proclivity of contradicting themselves and the consumers of their content are wary in questioning the discrepancies in the messages they get to hear. I must issue a disclaimer: I am not a motivational speaker. If you happen to be motivated by my talks in this podcast, good for you, but that is not my intention. My aim for writing and speaking is to inform, nothing more and nothing less.

Today’s topic is going to make me sound like a motivational speaker. If not, I will sound like a psychologist or a philosopher. Don’t mind what I sound like, pay more attention to what I am going to say. I would appreciate if you would be so kind as to drop me comment at the end of this post.

The Greatest Opposition Is In The Mind

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to do something and deep down in your mind you thought it cannot be done? Your mind would imagine all sorts of possible unsavoury events that might follow after attempting to do that thing.

This always occur when we are dealing with something we have never done before. Sometimes it would be something that we have done before but under different circumstances.

You may have guessed it. Our minds can either allow us to move forward, stand still or move backwards in life. If we can convince our minds that something can be done, we could summon enough courage to actually attempt it. When our minds are not convinced about something it becomes a battle to accomplish it. I think our minds prefer to be in a comfortable position and if they are challenged they resist. I do not know the details of how that happens but I know that our minds will work hard to keep things on the familiar avenue. It is only when we go against the calculations and recommendations of the mind that we are able to grow and attempt new things.

I remember when I was a kid and I could not swim. It took me time to convince my mind that I can swim without holding on to something. I started swimming in shallow and inactive waters. Then as my mind got comfortable with the idea of swimming, I moved on to deeper waters. As I became more confident, it was time to attempt swiming in moving waters. Overtime, I and my crazy friends enjoyed swiming in the river when it was flooded fresh after heavy rains.

You see how my mind was shaped into believing that swiming was easy. I just had to try it and then go an extra mile. I had to ignore tons of warning messages from my brain and convince myself that I can make it. My mind had to be silenced and then proven wrong. In that way it is re-educated and learns to enjoy finer things that life has to offer like bungee jumping off the tallest bridge in the world.

The Mind And Running

Because of the bad experience I had with running when I was young, I avoided it at all cost. When I got into running again in 2016. I had to convince my mind of the benefits of running. I had to convice it that I can run. If I can walk 14 km how would I fail to run the same distance. I had to prove to my ever calculating mind that my body was given an ability to run.

When I ran my first tracked run in 2016, I was sure that I can do the same distance again and maybe add a few meters on top of that. The next run I did, I ran more than I did in my previous run. Tracking my running activity changed my perception of distance. There are places I thought were very far and in my mind had estimated over 10 km, only to find that they are under 5 km. The truth is, my mind was wrong about the distances and needed a good deal of correction.

So starting a run for many people is a mission. You hear people saying: “I am not a fan of running” or “If I start running now and then stop I will get fat.” These are just excuses which the mind would manufacture or which we would borrow from other people who are of great influence in our lives. The excuses we make when we are challenged to run only comes from a mind that is satisfied with being in a comfortable position and not be tested.

Running is not just a physical test but it tries the mind too. The battle against the mind begins before one sets the foot on the road. There are many reasons the mind will bring up so to keep you away from doing your running session.

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Whatever establishment that is recognized as one of the greatest in the world started somewhere humble. We only see and appreciate the grandeur now but there is a lot that happened to bring about the grandeur. If we could look back at the history of the greatest and well known businesses in the world, which have lasted for decades and even for centuries, we would discover that many people did not believe they would ever last.

Even nature show us this. Take for example a devastating thunderstorm, it starts off as a small cloud and over a short time you see in front of you a huge dark cloud with impressive lightnings bolting in every direction. Rain comes pouring down flooding the streets, planes and rivers. If someone told you it started with a small cloud, as big as a hand you may find it hard to believe them.

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Our bodies are made up of billions, if not trillions of very small cells. Today we see a baby after being born and we take it for granted that a baby is small. The truth is, a new born baby is bigger than what it used to be on the day it was conceived. When it was conceived, it was only one tiny cell. It took a lot of sleepless nights, back aches and a whole lot of discomforts for nine long months to grow a baby from a tiny small cell to a self centered, attention demanding little bundle of joy. With that being said I am not going to venture into letting you in on a secret on how to grow a little baby boy into a fully grown life striken grey headed man.

Think of the biggest tree you have ever seen. Take note of how big was its trunk, how wide were its branches and how amazing was the sight of it. Though such a tree is big and weighs many tons, it remains a fact that the tree in question was planted long time ago and it was then just an insignificant small plant. Some miserable creature could have easily plucked it up and destroyed it. We are glad that did not happen because we would not be appreciating its apparent size and the shade it provides.

In the context of running, it is important to keep in mind that great things have a beginning and their beginnings are not the same and they are not as pretty as the media would have us imagine. The greatest runners with worldwide recognition started off as “nobodies” and their success was not handed to them on a silver platter. They had to work hard for it.

LONG DISTANCE RUN

Look at the men and women who run half, mega and ultra marathons. They did not wake up one morning and decide to run that long. They started small. Maybe with one kilometer and then gradually progressed to five kilometers. Over months and in some cases years, they were ready to run over 13.1 miles or 21.1 kilometers.

I had done three runs that were over 20 kilometers long. What I remember about those runs is that I could only worry about running a kilometer at a time. For a twenty kilometer session, I had to run one kilometer at a time and do that twenty times. Each long run begins with a small distance. It all starts with small steps, one foot in front of another and repeat.

IN OTHER PARTS OF LIFE

The concept of small beginnings is applicable in every part of life. A person who have a dream to build a great business must understand that small steps matters. Just like a huge wall is built one brick at a time, so will a great business be built one small step at a time. One needs the passion and patience to do the work until it is finished.

Sometimes people give up to early on their endeavors simply because it seems impossible to reach the desired end. This challenge can be overcome by adjusting the way one looks at the world. Instead of looking at a mammoth and doubt if you can ever finish it, focus on the taking small bites which you can manage. Over time you’ll find yourself at end of your project.

I enjoy looking at the ants. There is so much wisdom to be learned from them. Everybody knows that ants are very small insects. Despite the given fact, they are not afraid to attempt big projects. They will work together to break a locust into small pieces and take it to their ant store-rooms (whatever they are called). They don’t say, “Oh no, what a big locust! What are we going to do? We are too small for this. I guess we should just give up and go home.” We should learn from the ants.

MY BIBLE SCHOOL DAYS

I remember that before I went to Bible, I looked at three years as a very long time. By my weird estimation, by the time three years ended I would have grown grey hair. After acquiring enough courage and motivation to start Bible College, I realized that I did not need to do three years at once. I only needed one day at a time. A day became a week and week turned into a month and a month into a year. Soon enough while my hair was still black, I had finished three years at Bible College. I would not have completed it if I kept looking at the three years as a solid insurmountable obstacle on my way.

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Every day we are faced with challenges. Some of these challenges come upon us as a surprise, and others are foreseeable. Foreseeable challenges can cause much harm to us if we leave them unattended.

All sorts of challenges are necessary. They promote growth and improve our problem-solving skills. This fact should not encourage us to take challenges lightly. We must carefully weigh each challenge and deal with it on its merit to avoid problems in the future.

Every challenge presents itself as an inconvenience. A person faced with a challenge must take time to formulate a strategy to tackle it. Some challenges come as a surprise and give us little time to study them. In such cases, we have to think on our feet. This is a skill we must develop.

Running presents a host of challenges for anyone. The great thing about this is that we can train ourselves repeatedly until we can overcome all the obstacles in our path. I am going to talk about ways we can use to overcome any challenge.

Expect Opposition and Welcome it

Someone I don’t know said, “Attitude determines your altitude.” My understand of this statement is that one must have a certain attitude to advance in whatever they are trying to achieve. When faced with a challenge or a problem, it is essential not to look at it as the end of the road, without first understanding it. Acknowledge that a problem has occurred. Accept the reality of the problem, then you will be able to deal with it.

Some problems affect our physical well-being and some affect our mental and emotional well-being. Some problems affect our finances. Whatever the nature of a problem, always have hope that you can find a way around it. When I say keep hoping for a way around it, I am not suggesting that you should undermine the problem. You should, in a way try to find balance between optimism and pessimism. While you expect the worst, hope for the best.

When dealing with difficult situations it is no use to approach it with a defeated state of mind. You can’t expect to pass an exam when you don’t believe you’ll pass. You can start a business when you don’t believe you’ll make profit and you can’t successfully start a running program when you don’t believe that you will reach the finish line.

Do Not Go It Alone

Animals understand that there is strength and greater advantage in numbers, except when you are a hyena. A single lion can ambush and catch an antelope. Such a small meal cannot service the needs of a large pride. To ensure survival, the lions must work together. Together they can take down a buffalo who has strayed from the herd. Working together means they can acquire a big meal that is enough for everyone. Also maintaining large numbers, most of the time, keeps the hyenas at bay during a meal.

It is important that when you are faced with a certain problem, you don’t try to handle it by yourself. Ask for help. Find a support group. As a Christian I have learned that you cannot walk alone, you need others of like mind. The Christian life is not easy. Like a marathon, it is infested with countless problems. Only with the help of those around you, who are going through the same or have overcome the same problems, will you be able to pull through.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend. She shared with me the value of having a running partner. She made me understand that a running partner will always hold you accountable and keep you motivated. Though I don’t have a running partner myself, I recommend one for those who struggle with getting started or with maintaining a running schedule.

I do not have a running partner but I do not run completely alone. I have a virtual coach. I get tips and instructions as I run. I also get running stats as I am running so I can know how I am doing and get to make informed decision to improve the current session.

Take A Step Back

Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at the problem from a distance. Take a game of chess for example. I learned to play chess in 2012, I played against my computer. Sometimes when I got stuck, I took a step back, rotate the board and look at it from different view point to gain perspective.

You would benefit a lot if you would give yourself sometime to rest and take your mind off a given problem. Get some fresh air and then come back to work on it again. You would notice that your mind would work efficiently after a few minutes of rest.

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Everything has a beginning. The general rule with regards to most things that have a beginning is that they must end. Quite sad, but it is what it is and there is nothing we can do change to it. We would live happily and perhaps much longer if we learn to deal with things as they stand. Life begins and life ends. What matters is the space in between.

Since we always talk about running on this podcast and we are all runners (I hope we are all runners), I think it is appropriate for me to mention that the difference between the starting and the finishing lines, is the distance in between. To move from start to finish you have to do the distance. There is no way around it. If you want a medal for finishing the run, you’ll have to brave the distance and get running. You will have to breathe heavily, sweat profusely and even feel the pain but the finish line would be waiting for you to cross it, you will have to ignore all the troubles you’ll think you have and keep pushing yourself until you reach the finish line.

Mind How You Start.

Before a car manufacturer begins to physically put a car together, they make sure that they know what the proposed car should look like. They would have someone to first design it on paper and then make sure they understand what components they need to include to complete a fully functional car. I doubt they would ever be able to build a car without a clear image of the model.

In the same way, a good start begins with a sense of direction and adequate preparation. What makes a good start is a preparation. Preparation would make the moving from start to finish manageable. When one is well prepared, they would be able to handle unexpected situations that might arrive on the way. Each step is understood and allocated its own time and place in the process of completing the project at hand. Good preparation is dependent on one’s cognizance of the endpoint.

In the case of running, one has to be cognizant of the distance to run, the weather conditions in which they will be running, the fitness level of the body before the run and necessary steps to be taken to complete the run successfully.

It is important to mind how you start anything. In many cases, your start will affect the way you finish. When I do my long runs, if I start too fast I struggle a lot towards the end of the run. I barely have energy. I have come to realize that to finish strong and fast, I need to take it slow at the start. Just like yesterday. Yesterday, I went on a 10 km run after seven days of inactivity. I know that the run was going to be difficult and that my body was out of shape. I entered the run knowing that the 10 km run will not be like others I did. The route I was going to do has its own challenges and a good estimation of how long it was going to take me to finish the run was one hour and fifteen minutes. The reason for this is that I was going to intentionally run slower than usual. I was able to finish yesterday’s run in one hour and seven minutes. I couldn’t have done this successfully if I had not prepared myself from the start.

 Learn To Correct Yourself

During each run I do, I always listen to my body and with the help of the app on my phone I can track my progress easily. I am always aware of my progress and can judge during the run if I can make it to the finish or not. When I feel that I might not make it to the finish line, I back off. I reduce my speed until my body recovers and gradually pick the pace up. When I am running by myself as is always the case, I have to understand that I am my coach.

When I anticipate that I might compromise my running session or my health, I autocorrect. There are days where I have completely changed the route in the middle of the run. I would keep the distance but the route would be completely different. The point is when you are running just by yourself, you are in control and you can decide anything. You get to own the run and are in charge of what goes on in it.

This is true in many areas of life. We have seen plans going sideways, whether it is at work or in a formal function. A well-planned event will always have backup plans just in case things go wrong. For example, an outdoor wedding ceremony could be ruined by the change in the weather. A highly experienced and considerate wedding planner would always have a secondary venue prepared just in case the heavens open up and shower down their priceless blessing.

So when situations arise and they seek to drive you off course, learn to adapted and correct yourself to compensate for lost time. The sailors in olden days, before I was born: they understood the concept of auto-correction. When the winds were in their favor the sails would each be in a particular angle but when the winds change directions, they changed the angles of the sails to manipulate the wind and still get to move towards the desired direction. Sometime they would zig-zag across the sea just to go forward against the wind or even against the current.

Find a way to track how you are doing in your projects or your running activities and learn to correct yourself to avoid going very far in the wrong direction. It costs less to make a minor correction than to start the whole project scratch. It cost less to arrive at the finish line three minutes late than to arrive early with a torn muscle.

Learn From Your Mistakes

The truth is we all have made mistakes. We have made poor judgments in many situations. For us to successfully autocorrect, we need to remember and draw valuable lessons from our past mistakes. We should avoid repeating them. It is also wise to read up, listen to podcasts or watch videos with the sole purpose of learning from other people’s mistakes. A wise man learns from other people’s mistakes before he makes his own. It is foolishness to repeat other people’s mistakes when you have witnessed the cost and trouble they subsequently bring.

The year is coming to an end. We must remember the mistakes we have made this year and make sure that we do not repeat them next year. Growth occurs when we acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them. My message to anyone listening or reading this post is, in whatever it is you are doing, whether it is running or work, strive to be the best version of yourself and do the best you can afford.

Have a clear picture of the endpoint in your mind. What do you need to do to improve your life and the lives of those around you? Who can help you achieve that? Are you going to need money? Where are you going to get the money? How are you going to get the money?

For one to get a good start, they need to have a clear vision of the end. The rest is to fill the space in between.

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Every long journey has its own challenges. When one embarks on such a journey they need to prepare themselves for anything. The journey can be successfully completed if there is adequate preparation and a clear purpose for getting into the journey at the first place. Such is the case with podcasting and running. They are a long journey for me.

Since I am both a podcaster and a runner, I look at both of theses activities in the same way. They both require a clear goal and vast amounts of endurance. One needs to be able plan every move they will make and have backup plans and backups of backup plans should anything go wrong.

We have gone past the seventh episode. As I mentioned in the past episode that some statistics say, a number of podcast shows that fail, happen to fail just before they reach the seventh episode. I am quite thrilled that Run Yourself Crazy has gone past the “podcast graveyard zone.”

Have a clear picture of where you would run

It is important to have a good idea how your run will look like. Decide on where you will run before you even get into the run. You may want to consider the distance you will be running and the type of run you will actually do. Prepare yourself mentally and accept the route in your mind first.

For long runs be sure to carry a water-bottle or a re-hydration backpack. Also have a bottle of water waiting for you when you return from your running session.

Set your self milestones to help manage the run

Milestones are those little targets into which you break the run. They could be distance based, time based or location based. I often use time and distance based milestones. For an example, I break my runs into 3 parts: Warm up, Pace up and hold, and finish or cool down.

Get out and Run

When you have finished planning and preparing for your run, get out there and do us proud. Follow the route you have chosen and keep those milestones into mind. Upon each milestone pay attention to how your body feels. Do you feel like quitting or you feel like you’ve got a lot of fight raging inside you? This will help you to effectively compare that current run with future runs which you will do on the same route.

Review your run

At the end of the run, it is important to review your run. How far did you go? How long did it take you to complete the run? How does your body feel like after the run? Did you make it through all the milestones? How was your body feeling at each milestone? This will give you a good idea as to where you may need to improve.

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