The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
This is not a review of the famous film with Tom Courtenay. Instead, and following on from the recent Kings Cup Marathon in Pattaya and the Run For Mom ½ Marathon in Bangkok last month in honour of her majesty Queen Sirikit, some thoughts from Pattaya’s own “long distance runner” Neo of Green Pattaya:
I started running just a few years ago and after just one year ran from Chiang Rai up on the Northern border of Thailand down to Pattaya 999 kilometers. It took 30 days 33.33 kilometer per day. Noone should ever tell you that you can not run or that it is too late to start. Some people believe we are born to run and that our current culture is making us weak. The most famous people who use running as a means of transport are not African but the Tarahumara: Native Indians, famous for their ability to run for days.
So how can you prepare for a marathon if you’ve not started to run yet? When I started running I ran 1.2 km around the big Buddha temple and I was totally beat. After a week I added two laps and then another and then another and then I was suddenly doing 5 km a day. Your body will adjust to your running needs even if you do not see the same result as in a gym lifting weights, you will feel it inside your body. The expert say that you should add 1 km a week to build up your body strength. So if you want to run a marathon starting your preparations just a month before will not give you enough time.You are far better off starting your preparations at least 6 months before the start of the marathon and as you slowly build your stamina do not stop when you get to 5km but continue to push your body for longer distances.
There are so many different running styles to choose and I have even seen some barefoot runners in the Pattaya marathon. However running barefoot takes time to perfect as the foot is put down in a completely different way. There are also different ways to get energy while running. Some of my friends only eat fruit while they are running while others bulk up with pizza and pasta for a couple of days before a long run.
From 2013-2015 there has been a popular trend for running even if biking have won over some of these people now there are still many people running like crazy! In bangkok there is a running event almost every weekend and most of the runs are sold out on the first day. Sadly some people do not even go to the runs to run. They go to take photos, chat and dress in funny costumes especially as everybody gets a medal even if they do not run that much.
It is all in good fun and part of the Thai running culture but unfortunately many real runners get left out because it is hard to book a place on the Thai websites especially for non Thai Speakers who also find it almost impossible to know when to pick up the shirt or where the real start is . Also in the past year or so there have been a few examples of foreigners complaining of being overcharged or denied the prizes they won. But if you do not care about the medals just run for fun. There is also Trail Running where you run in forests or fields or even in a few places in Pattaya.
There are now many new cool apps such as Strava, Runkeeper and Charity Miles (where you give automatic to charity when you run or ride a bike). There is a very good running group called Bangkok Runners on Facebook and despite their name, everybody are welcome.
My next project is running from Pattaya to Phuket and then maybe if my body agrees running from the top of Thailand all the way down to the end of Thailand. You can follow my running on www.thailandrun.org or https://www.facebook.com/ThailandRun