10 Miles

Today I wanted to break from tradition and share a personal achievement.

On Saturday I broke 10 miles (16 km) on a run, with an average of 8 minutes per mile (5 min/km). This was something that I've been working towards for a couple months now, and is very exciting. But there's a lot more to it than that, because a year ago running wasn't even on my mind.

Last January I injured my knee, presumably due to over-exertion from running over the winter without a proper exercise routine. After that I took a break, and honestly wasn't sure if I would ever go back to it.

Almost eight months ago I picked it up again, but this time I took it slow. My goal was reaching 5 miles, the distance I almost hit before the injury. At that time, 5 miles was cemented in my mind as the target for the foreseeable future of my life - maybe I would hit 6 on a good day, but that would be my running distance.

Starting again was slow and very, very painful. I had lost almost everything from before, and my first runs were well over 9 minutes for a couple of miles, but I did it. My legs were sore for days and my lungs and sinuses burned, but I pushed myself to run twice a week. There was a big mental change though - I didn't punish myself if I only got one run in, couldn't go as far, or had a slow day. The only important thing was that I was trying, and that I kept going.

When I hit 5 miles I stayed there, as I had planned, for a good three or four months. I think it was my dad who told me I could probably do a 10K - about 6.3 miles - and got me to consider longer distances. I'm a big fan of the metric system, so I went for it, and after another month or so had made that 10K by accident. I started to include more hills and shorter interval training runs to build up strength and endurance. My legs, once sore for days, were tired afterwards, but fine the next day.

Then a funny thing happened.

I realized that running felt good to me. Like, really good. I almost always run at night because I leave work pretty late (and am not a morning person), and the cool air and twinkling lights of the city make it quite pleasant.

I remember when I hit 7 miles - it felt like I was discovering a new world because I went farther into the city. I found the joy of running in the rain, and the thrill of secretly racing rickshaws and skateboarders. I learned how mystical the piers were on foggy nights, and how the bay with a full moon and stars overhead feels like running through space. Running let me be an explorer of my city, but also of my self. When I reached 7 miles, I needed to make 8, and then 9, and then... well I made it to 10. And I realized that it wasn't until I improved and hit those low goals that new ones that I had never considered came into view.

What I'm getting at is not the achievement, but the new perspective on, well, perspective. I think we often have these goals that are quite lofty, and in our attempt to reach them we fall hard and give up on them.

But maybe that's necessary.

Maybe, that failure is what lets us to come back with humility. We try it again, but say things like "this time, I'm just going to focus on doing this a few times a week" or "maybe instead of a whole book, or even a chapter, I'll start with a good first page". And then we do that. And then we do it again. And we keep that up until we realize we're pushing further, and faster, and all these little things we'd never considered before are second nature to us now.

And then, one day, we look back on how far we've come, smile, and keep pushing forward.

Thanks for reading, folks. It means a lot.


For anyone who's curious, my next target is a 20K, and then a half marathon. I can see the desire to run a full marathon now, but I think that's still far off. I won't, however, say it's out of the picture!

Also, I realized that I basically ran the length of Deimos, the smallest moon of Mars. Its longest dimension is about 14 km. I find things are much more fun when you compare them to space things. After all, "I ran the length of Mars' moon" sounds way cooler than "I ran 10 miles".


Deimos, from Wikimedia.org  - How many moons can you run?