Thoughts On Running

I swear that I’ll talk about something other than running very soon — I want to share one of my favourite squash recipes, for one thing — but, for now, let’s discuss Kevin Lim’s thoughts on running.

As I’ve written about before, Kevin has been my trainer at Inliv for quite a while now, and I’ve loved every second of it. (Unfortunately, I’m not training with him right now, only because the one plant I have in my apartment does not sprout dollar bills. Damn plant.)

He’s really helped me improve my technique and speed, which is what I was hoping for, seeing as Kevin is an incredible athlete himself. In the recent Canadian championships, he placed 8th overall in the 400-metre race, and his goal is to make it to the 2012 Olympics. No doubt in my mind, he’ll make it.

We caught up over coffee at Kawa this past weekend, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to ask for his thoughts on all kinds of running-related things. His answers were so good, they’re worth sharing. So, here are Kevin’s thoughts…

On Training

“When you’re training, you think of the long-term goals, the super long-term goals — what you see yourself doing at your peak. For me, it’s the Olympics. Also think of the short-term goals, like what you want to get accomplished that year, whether it’s times, placings or competitions you want to compete at. Make a list. As the season progresses, check off if you’ve done it or not.

I had about six to eight goals this season. I got one of them. One. That’s it. But, I got one of them; I still achieved a goal. It’s better than nothing. Even if you are getting nothing done, then modify the goals for the season or year after. Learn what you can do, what you can do better and what you want to change.”

On His Big Race

I had one shot to do it and I did it. I gave it all I had, but I felt like I had nothing left in the final. I was overwhelmed, I was too emotional and I had nothing left. I came in ranked 13th, made 8th and then finished 8th in the final. It’s great to be called  the 8th-fastest man in the 400-metre race in Canada. I want to get better, but that’s the competitiveness in me. There are bigger years to come, more mature stages of this sport to go through. Leading up to those years, I have more motivation and confidence than ever.”

On Handling Pre-Race Nerves

“I don’t get nervous till the day of.  As the minutes go by, the more nervous I get. The most nerve-wracking is when you walk out to the track, set up your blocks and hear the famous words, “Warmup’s off, stand behind your blocks.” There’s no turning back. What you have to do to stay calm is be confident and compete like you train. If you work and train hard, competition can only go the same way. Look at it as an opportunity to show what you can do. Don’t focus on other competitors. You’re competing for yourself.”

On Taking Care of Yourself

“If you’re going to be running frequently, make sure you take care of your body. Invest in a great pair of runners. Don’t bring back those 6-year-old sneakers you love so much. You’re going to want to look into your diet and your sleep. If you’re running more, you’ll have better sleeps. But it works both ways — you’re going to need that sleep to go on those runs. Being conscious of your diet, physical wellbeing, sleep and everything else will help you out.”

On Common Mistakes

“In the longer runs, you drop the centre of your gravity. And then you get lower back problems because you’re not light on your feet anymore. You have to be light. If you  make yourself feel like you’re 500 pounds, those joints are taking a lot of stress. Feel like you’re 100 pounds, you’re on a cloud. You don’t want to fall through that cloud. What will help that is relaxation. Drop your shoulders, keep the body up tall. Think of your belly button being the centre and how you don’t want that deviating up and down too much — it should be at a steady level. With those relaxed shoulders, think about pushing the elbows back, don’t think about them going forward.”

On Being Behind In A Race

“You keep plugging away. Not just in the sport, but in everyday life, whether it’s school, work, personal issues, anything. Never give up.”