What propels a person to keep on running and pushing their minds and bodies to the limit in marathon and ultra races? Celebrity runners Mohandas Kandiah (commonly known as Mohan Marathon) and Thaddeus Lawrence shared their reasons on why they love extreme distance running.
Mohan has completed more than 200 marathon and ultra races, including the 250km Red Bull Run in 2013, across the Australian Simpson Desert. Ironically though, it took two failed attempts at the Singapore Marathon (now the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore), before he succeeded in completing the 42km run – in 1995.
Thaddeus Lawrence is a motivational speaker and endurance athlete who has successfully conquered some of the world’s toughest races, such as the Four Deserts Grand Slam – a series of four 250km races across the Sahara, Gobi, Atacama and Antarctica Deserts.
Run For Cover Clinic
The two running celebrities were discussing why they run, at a talk cum discussion held by Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
The talk was organized as part of a pre-run clinic for this month’s Run To Cover event, a 24-hour treadmill challenge.
Everyone runs for different reasons
Thaddeus said that people run for different reasons, and that the completion of a run is a success when your personal goals have been achieved.
To some, merely completing the race regardless of the finishing time may be a milestone in their lives, but to others, developing a work-life balance and being able to fit family time together with the running is very important, according to Thaddeus. And success is achieved for them, when they are able to meet these goals
Added Thaddeus, “What is your compelling desire to run? For some, it may be the medal, glory or fame. That may be a good enough reason to sign up for the race. But when you are out there pushing yourself to complete the miles in an ultra or an ironman, it may not be enough. You need some other motivation.”
Running for a cause may be a good motivation for some, according to Thaddeus.
Running for a cause
While many runners take part in events and raise money for a good cause though, Thaddeus felt that it helps if the runners take time to understand the beneficiaries, too. He said that some runners may not understand the people that they are supposed to be helping.
Explained Thaddeus, “Spend time to understand those people you are running for. That will make a difference when you are in the middle of nowhere and going through that pain in runs. It is a difference between calling it quits and finishing the race.”
Thaddeus has raised thousands of dollars through running for charity. But it has not always been easy – such as during the Four Deserts series of races, when he was struggling both physically and mentally.
Thaddeus had initially signed up for this series to raise funds for underprivileged children. But he admitted that midway through the race, he had harboured thoughts of giving up.
“I had to complete the race, though, otherwise the kids would see me as the guy who did not finish!” he quipped. And that helped to see him through all the 1,000km of deserts.
“We need clarity about why we run. It helps us go further and when to say no. The reason why we run comes when we have a deeper experience with that reason,” Thaddeus added.
Satisfaction of helping others during a marathon
Mohan felt that running is about helping others during a run. So if he sees any runner in trouble or struggling during a race, he will always go up to them and help them to finish it.
At the 2009 edition of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore, he had helped a diabetic friend, who initially couldn’t even run 500m but with Mohan’s help in training and running, he crossed the finishing line in the 42km race.
Their timing was 7 hours and 5 minutes – Mohan’s slowest marathon. But the mere fact that he had changed his friend’s life (who has since gone on to run many more marathons) has made him see a new light. Now, he has decided that running marathons is much more profitable if he can help fellow runners, instead of selfishly going after his own personal dreams all the time.
Said Mohan, “If I can be a catalyst for others, why not? It will change other people’s lives. After all, I am not going to get any faster at running!”
So this is definitely one key reason that keeps Mohan motivated, while he is running challenging marathons and ultra races.
Have fun while running
Mohan admitted too, that he is not a competitive runner who can win the top prizes. Yet, he still takes part in races all the time – because he has found a way to simply enjoy himself while running, by injecting some fun into it.
So no matter how much he is suffering during a race, he will always cheer participants on and offer them words of motivation and encouragement as he passes by. And of course, he will smile through his own pain.
Explained Mohan, “It is important to smile during a marathon, especially to volunteers. After all, it is because of them (the volunteers) that the marathon is taking place.
“Running is a universal language. It unites people and makes everyone’s life fun and enjoyable,” he added.