Don’t Think, Just Run

I feel like I’ve somewhat passed a strenuous physical exam after recovering from a super strong strain of flu that had my brain dizzy, muscles sore and made me just collapse into a sleeping beauty every night.  My immune system is now super charged and ready to take on what come.  Now it’s time to get ready for the Bangkok Marathon in November.  This week, I’ve started doing extra long runs at the gym. (Not really that long for a professional runner, but long for me)

I usually run two sets of ten minutes in the mornings, but that is really not far at all.  It takes me only roughly a little over a kilometer.  To make 5km, I’m going to have to keep running and running and running. Running for around 40 minutes non-stop.

To do that, this week I’ve been doing running stretches of 20 minutes.  Knowing that my brain would want to give up after ten minutes, I eased myself into running 20 minutes by lowering the speed slightly, but keeping the incline at 1% (so that the treadmill will resemble the outdoor a bit more).

I also had to stop thinking.  Yes, don’t think when you run.

If I think, I always end up stopping.  So I had to keep telling my brain to just ignore the thought process for awhile and kill off the voices from the lazy me inside.  Every five minutes, my lazy me would go through the cycle of trying to talk itself into stopping.

“Five minutes is a nice round number, yes let’s stop here for a bit.”  At this point, my lazy me is smiling and making the stop seem so pleasant.

“No, I’d reply.  Another five minutes then we can stop”  Yes, I trick myself every five minutes to run another five minutes. (I say I’d stop, but actually I won’t, because I’d trick myself again later.)

This self tricking involves not looking at the timer on the treadmill when the seconds count down from 4.56 mins to 4.57mins  to 4.58mins then 4.59mins.  My heart gives a big thump.  I must not give in, no I won’t and so I ignore this awful timer and instead try to look around the room at the other people running and exercising. I look out the window, watch the flickering TV screen and note to myself that the grandpa on the other treadmill seems fitter than me.  By the time I look again it becomes 5.10mins and then I say to myself,

“Haha!! you passed the round number, might as well run to the next round number. You know you are going to feel like a better person for having finished the entire run than giving up on yourself halfway.”

When I finish the run, it is indeed a feeling of accomplishment.  Even though how little the accomplishment, I think it’s a great way to start the day.  You won over yourself and ran a full 20 minutes. You killed the lazy voices, put them in coma.  Next week it’s going to have to start being 25 minute runs.

Yes, lets all stop thinking and just run!  RUN for your health, run for yourself, run for a new life.

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Get Ready for the 2011 Bangkok Marathon

This morning while running, I thought about the upcoming Bangkok Marathon.  I have to get a little more serious in my running.  In 53 days, the Bangkok Marathon will be held as it has been for the past few years.  On November 20, 2011 tens of thousands of people will be out running in the wee mornings of the day.  I will be there.  Let’s all be there.  Let’s go out, have some exercise and enjoy the experience.

For those of you who have never joined the marathon, let me tell you this.  Once you’ve experienced it, you will want to keep coming back.  It’s fun, it’s exciting and its open the everyone.  How often do you get to run on the street by the Grand Palace and watch the sunrise?

You don’t have to run the entire 42km marathon.  They have the 10K as well as the 5K for you to choose from.  I will be doing the 5K.  I want to run it all and not walk.

The first time I joined the marathon was 4 years ago, I was unfit, overweight and yes, I let many MANY people pass me by.  One of my most memorable moments was when I was huffling and puffling, red faced and short of breath. Then I looked towards my left and spotted a lady pushing another lady who was sitting on a wheelchair pass me by.  They both looked happy and not in the least bit tired.   That was a “down” moment.  I was overtaken by a lady pushing a wheelchair.   Imagine that.

The second time I joined, I had lost 15K and was running with Alex. I have to tell you the experience was a lot better.  I ran almost halfway before I took a walking break and yes, I finished it all in around 40 minutes which is not too bad for me.  I wasn’t huffling and puffing as much and my heart felt a lot stronger.  It was fun, I met friends, took photos and had a blast of a time.

This year will be third year, and I think I will finish the 5K with an even better timing than the last.  Of course, one must always aim for improvements.

So mark your calendars everyone.  November 20,2011.  Let’s all join the Bangkok Marathon.  Let’s have some “me” time and exercise!

Fear not that you won’t make it.  As a friend said the other day, “Once you start, you’ve gotta finish it.” I totally agree. No matter how long it takes, you will finish it.  Start little, start short distances if you are unsure.  5K is really not much at all. 🙂

Oh, here’s their website!  http://www.bkkmarathon.com/eng/index.php

The Art of Tipping

I was thinking about growing up the other day and how some skills you acquire along the way depends a lot on where you live.  Living in Thailand, as in any other asian country, life requires one to tip other people every now and then.  A tip for good service, tip for the valet, tip for a good job..etc.. the list is endless.  We live in a country where services abound.  Tipping is not just about how much you give, it is lso a lot about how you ‘tip’ so as not to offend the other person.

I remember when I first had to tip.  I had no clue how to do it.  I’d take out a bill, fold it in half and just hand it out right there and then for all the world to see.  The reaction was often a bit of a startled face, a little step back.  I realized because the person receiving it felt offended because here they were being publicly given money.  No matter how grateful you felt for the service, like carrying your heavy luggage up three flights of stairs, or valet your car, the other person does not appreciate a huge public nnouncement. It is just a no no.  No, they are not receiving charity.

After years of tipping, it now comes to me quite easily.  There’s a simple little gesture of the hand, a little bow and the whole action is done discreetly.  Both are happy and off we go on our paths.

How to do it?  Many of you might already know how (or even have better ways) but for those of you who don’t, here’s how I do it.

1. I fold the banknote bill in half and then once again so that it is one fourth in size.
2. Place it in the palm of your hands, held together by the thumb, index finger and middle finger.
3. Ensure that the thumb is towards the bottom so that the four fingers that line the top will hide the banknote. (Your hand at this point looks like a downward sloping triangle.)
4. When you give the tip, lean yourself forward slightly with your hand slightly outstretched as if you were going to give a handshake and drop the bill in the receiver’s hand.

The person receiving the tip usually knows what to do and will stretch their hand out to receive it will a little bow.  The folded bill allows the receiver to discreetly put the folded bank note away and allows them to quickly get back to carrying the next luggage, or valet the next car.

How do you tip? Do you have any techniques to share?

It’s all about the “L” word: Learning

The other day I wrote about how important it was to fail before you can  succeed.  I realized I did not quite emphasize enough how important it is to actually LEARN from your mistakes.  Learning is key. It is what you must do before you can succeed, for if you keep failing over and over and never learn from your mistakes, then that is a failure. That would not result in success.

As Einstein said something along the lines of ” If you keep running into a wall and expect the same result, then it is the same.  However, if you keep running into a wall and expect different results, then it is a miracle.”   Only a miracle can alter the outcome.  No matter how many times you drop the egg to the ground without any protection, it will break.  There will not be a moment that the egg will float on air.  If you keep trying to solve a puzzle, and always use the same techniques to an unwanted outcome, it will not work.

The same happens in life.  If you keep trying to talk to approach someone and it does not work, then reevaluate it. Perhaps other techniques will work. Learn from your past experiences.

If you keep getting your heartbroken because of A and B, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your likes and dislikes.  Perhaps certain kinds of behaviour are not what you want in your other half.  Learn what caused the heartache.  Learn about what effects it had on you.  Learn what caused the disagreement.  Learn how they can be avoided.  Learn what needs to change.

It can be applied to everything in life even on simple things.  Today I fell down flat on my face onto the pavement, wallet, phone, shoes flying in the air.  Yes, I am bruised and scratched. What did I learn from it?  To be more alert when I am in a rush.  To slow down. Rushing causes me to not be aware of my surroundings as much. My mind is elsewhere.  I also learnt to be careful when rounding corners and to watch out for potential threats like a sudden move backwards by someone and a potential hazard of feet
gone awry.

Simply LEARN from the experience, the mistake.  That is the greatest lesson of all.

Fail to Succeed

Having just read the New York Times article “What if the Secret to Success is Failure?” I can’t help but nod in agreement.  Yes, to have an education, finish school, graduate from highschool or even a college degree does not ensure you will have a successful life.  A degree does not guarantee that you won’t jump off the balcony because of a broken heartache, nor does it guarantee you will know how to handle the stresses of life and stop yourself from falling victim to a nervous breakdown.  Traditional schooling paid attention to grades, to achievement tests, to placement exams and all the while, they forgot about focusing on the student’s character.  How do they handle stress? How do they interact? Are they a good person?  Do they think of other people?
The article mentions how those who succeeded in college were not always necessarily the ones who scored the highest in class and got the best grades.  They were the ones who knew how to get up after they failed.  They were the ones who knew how to handle a failure, a bad grade, and move on.  They sought for help and worked hard with a determination to succeed.  They were the ones who graduated from college despite coming from a background where college degrees were not the norm.

I think the same applies to everyday life.

Once out of school, out of the safe confines of classrooms and professors, being out in the world can be a pretty daunting task.  Whether you succeed or not depends a lot on your character.  How resourceful are you? Do you know how to ask for help? Do you know how to treat other people?  Are you aware of other peoples’ feelings?  Most importantly, do you know how to get up after you’ve failed?

If you never fail, if you are never allowed to fail, then you would never know how to pick up yourself after having failed.   That’s why you hear stories of girls committing suicide because of heartache and students who kill themselves because of a bad grade.  They didn’t know how to handle failure. They were never allowed to fail.  They thought failure meant the end of the world.  They grew up protected from failure.

It’s important to know that it is OKAY TO FAIL.   That I think is an important lesson everyone should know.  It’s okay to fail. Failing doesn’t make you a bad person.  We are humans. No one is perfect.

Failure in itself is a learning experience.  What’s more important is to ask yourself, what did you learn from that failure? What went wrong?  Once you realize this, you can move on so that you won’t repeat the same mistake again.

That’s a trait for success.  That’s what makes the difference.  Because you have failed, you know its pitfalls and you know how to avoid them.  Therefore fail to succeed.  Success cannot be gained without first failing.

Here’s to learning!

Old Bangkok Dining: Vegetarian at Thamna on Samsen

The vegetarian festival is coming up soon in Bangkok and so if you are looking for somewhere that serves delicious vegetarian food, I recommend this little restaurant called “Thamna”.  This literally translates to “farming” in Thai.   It’s a lovely little eatery that opened up roughly two years ago and is very close to my office, so close that I had not written about it.  It is, however, one of my all time favorites and somewhere where you can go have a healthy meal.

It’s a tiny little shop with a cosy ambiance and soft music playing in the background.  Paintings line the walls and it has a somewhat artistic feel to it.  It has roughly 6 tables so I recommend making a reservation if you plan to go there during the peak hours of noon.  Office workers from nearby go to this shop during the lunch break.

What kind of food do they serve?  It’s a vegetarian restaurant so no meat is served here, only vegetables and lots and lots of mushrooms.  I love mushrooms so this is a wonderful restaurant for me.  They cook up mushrooms in different ways.  I always order the mushroom puff balls which is mushroom mixed into a little ball and fried.  It’s not greasy and is served with salad and dressing.. Somewhat like a takoyaki but with mushrooms.

Then there’s the somtum (papaya salad) which is another favorite.  They serve the papaya salad with mushrooms that have been shredded and cooked in such a way that it resembles dried pork.  It also comes with sushi which is made of brown rice wrapped in seaweed.  I love it’s originality.

If you want something a little tastier, I liked the spring rolls with three types of mushrooms stir fried in curry.  For something more filling, they also have sphaghetti stir fried with three types of mushrooms.   They also have tofu dishes and curries which are also equally delicious.

What about the price?  Together with two glasses of herbal drinks, and a whole coconut, four dishes (papaya salad, sphaghetti, mushroom puff balls, and mushroom spring roll) the receipt came out to 590 thb.   It’s slightly pricey for the area, but then you have the lovely ambiance, the soft music and the quality organic food.  For a good healthy meal, I think it’s well worth it!

Location? It’s located on Samsen Road between Soi 3 and Soi 5, and within walking distance from Banglumpoo.   If you are visiting the Grand Palace and walking around the Old Bangkok area, its not too far, so a nice place to go rest those tired legs. It’s also just around ten minutes walk from KhaoSan Road.  There is no parking, but you could find a spot somewhere in the sois nearby.  I recommend taking the taxi if you don’t want to risk having to go round and round looking for parking.  it. For reservations, call tel. +662- 282-4979 or mobile 086-662-6060.

Have a healthy meal everyone! 🙂

All the World’s a Stage

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

William Shakespeare


I think Shakespeare was really right to compare our world to being a stage and us merely players.  We are all born onto this earth as a child, we play our parts, grow up, and then we depart.  Sometimes it’s as if we are taking part in one giant movie.  Each life is a different movie.  Sometimes they interact, sometimes they each take their own path.   Upon each path, we encounter a series of characters, each one brings with it new experiences, new emotions.  Then paths diverge and evolve.  It’s a lifelong process that ends when we depart from this world and exit the stage.

I am suddenly reminded of the Truman Show.  A life we thought we had, was simply someone else’s show.

What happens when we exit the stage?  No one knows. It’s another story, another stage. Some believe in the afterlife, reincarnation.  Some believe there is a soul that remains and perhaps we go to heaven or to hell.  Some believe we are nothing more but dust and air once we perish.  It’s an answer no one alive can ever tell you.  To find out, we’d first have to exit this stage. Then, we wouldn’t be here discussing what happens.

What ever stage we are on. Whatever movie we are taking a part in, I think what matters most is what you learn from those experiences.  What you learn from your interactions with the other players and how your react.  That is life.  A series of experiences and interactions.  Fascinating.

What do you think? Please share.