READER REPORT:

Confessions of a running junkie

AARON CHAI
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2014
Confessions of a Running Junkie

SUPPORT IS KEY: Aaron (centre) with members of his local parkrun in the UK.

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From couch potato to running bean

Confessions of a running junkie I'm learning to run Overtaking everyone on the couch From binge drinker to Ironwoman Pushing my body forward The reluctant runner After a decade off, I just do it Finding my stride and myself Addicted to running Running's the best 'drug' on the market

5:30am. The alarm clock goes off and I hit the snooze button. Ten minutes of floating in and out of consciousness became 20 minutes, which extends to 30 minutes.

Eventually I sit up on the side of the bed, trying very hard to compose myself in doing the most important task of my day - logging yet another training run.

It is week three out of 16 in my preparation for the New York City Marathon and already it's not going that well. Today called for nine easy miles but my legs were feeling terrible.

Somehow, I convinced myself that getting out the door was most of the battle won and, before I knew it, I was already in my running gear, iPhone/music player in hand, running on the towpath along the Thames.

Seventy-five minutes later I finished on a high. My legs felt so much better and the feeling of achieving something significant so early in the day is a big boost in facing the day ahead.

Most importantly, I displayed commitment - staying loyal to what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in has left you.

In my case, I made a choice to lead a healthy lifestyle after being declared very unfit with high blood pressure by a gym instructor at university. This was followed by taking up running and pursuing various running goals that got more and more challenging and, more recently, giving back to others and trying to inspire other runners to being the absolute best they could be.

As a runner, I've achieved more than I thought I would since my decision to start running over nine years ago when I trained for the annual Round the Bays run. I've racked up thousands of miles in training. I've significantly slashed my running times from the 400 metres to the marathon (my five hours at Rotorua seven years ago is a far cry from my current best time).

Now living in the UK doing my OE, I've completed 15 marathons in four continents, even finishing the prestigious Boston Marathon a year after the tragic bombings.

As a person, I'm a lot more disciplined and driven in working towards my goals. I know what is required to get out the door on a cold winter's morning because I had to do it all of last winter.

I've had my share of stellar running adventures, whether it's travelling to foreign cities to run a marathon, surviving a 24-hour relay or supporting my mate as we ran an ultra-marathon through crowded London raising money for charity.

I've met a lot of fantastic people I am truly privileged to call my friends and second family, who constantly push and encourage me. In receiving that kind of support, I also pay it back by helping others and sharing in the thrill that happens when they meet their own running goals, whether it's setting a new distance record or running a new personal best time.

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For those that want to start running but don't know how, don't start by looking for motivation or inspiration. Start by putting a system in place to ensure that it is impossible for you to fail. By avoiding the things that trip up everybody when they start out, you can power through the slow (no pun intended) stage until your momentum and positive behaviour starts to snowball.

Other tips I can offer are to start small, stay consistent and be part of a community of like-minded runners. I cannot emphasise the last tip enough. Anyone that has achieved something great didn't get there by themselves; it is so much easier if you had the support of those people helping you along.

You could start by joining a running club or, even better, a local parkrun. Originally from the UK, parkrun is a worldwide phenomenon that has caught on in New Zealand - it is inclusive, organised by volunteers and is completely free.

Aristotle once said: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".

Tomorrow morning, I do it all over again.


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