How Rich Roll Makes Me Run My First 10K and Hopefully Beyond

I am such a terrible runner. I can remember dreading the long run that primary students need to do in school during Health Education classes, thinking how can a person run more than a minute without feeling like their lungs burst? At this period my maximum running distance without stopping is 800m, give or take.

It didn’t change much well into adulthood. I do a little bit of sports here and there but those are short burst of minimal running (squash & badminton).

Then, I stumbled upon a book called ‘Born to Run’ *thanks Adib!

It is a book about running and I’m intrigued by the way the author described the near religious  dedication and state of mind when running. Is it so powerful? But then again, millions of people run everyday and liking it.

I don’t know it at that time, but I felt compelled to at least try. Needless to say, I’m determined to feel it for myself, the joy of running that; unbeknown to me had become a cult for decades. From small baby steps of running slowly, I set myself to run a 10K race, one day. At that point which is late 2012, I have no idea it would soon become a reality, very fast.

Like every new habits, I learned that the sub-actions can be deliberate to ease myself into doing it consistently.

Enter Rich Roll.

He is actually a vegan ultraman, which name’s used unabashedly in part due to the cool factor of the name (like hey ya Rollers), and bringing together an epitome of pushing the boundaries, regardless of how impossible the outlook was.

You can read more of this awesome 50s dude rolling in his book Finding Ultra which I just got from Amazon!.

What started as a verbal pledge to run in a committed km every month, grew to become a systematic dropbox excel where everybody had their own target to achieve.

When I achieved the feat of finally running my first 10km in April 2014 (mere 3 months from starting out), my thoughts went back to the early days when this crazy journey bordering on obsession started. While ‘Born to Run’ are the initial force like a car engine ignited, Rich Roll is the fuel that kept me grounded and focused to the progress and objective.

There a several reasons, it had to be that way;

1. It provides public accountability so much so that not doing become a laughing stock.

Hallmark of good habit forming strategy, I found; is to make it as public as possible with utter disregard for comfort as to whom you are sharing it with.

In Rich Roll pack, apart from being the place where we get someone to run with, the idea of having a target each month means that you can’t slack off. The target are merely driven by my previous month’s target (as for me; an 80km in February should followed by a 90km the next month).

The increments are self-pledged and we end up not having an excuse of not doing. Every time I intend to shy away from completing at least 5 laps of running (equivalent to 4km at Seberkas), I told myself that I had done this before.

My body knows how it feels like running the distance, and above all it is capable.

Armed with that resolve of daily increment, monthly increment are not as daunting as it would seemed back in December.

Having no excuse of ‘my-body-is-tired, I-need a rest’ adds up to the fact that everyone else sees your stats. Having to put in (honestly) your numbers every session makes you vulnerable.

These conversations within me are common;

  • what did I do on these blank days? Am I that lazy?
  • I have been slacking for 2 days in a row! Time to get serious and just do it now!
  • holy shit this guy just run 30km while I am vegetating in front of TV!

All of those are internal monologue of course, but when it bears an actual resemblance of being lazy, there would be quick nudge by others seemingly at a glance as a nagging friends, confronting of how little we move nowadays and why we should just get our asses off. and run. Deep down, everyone just want to have moved, together.

2. For competitive ego-driven alpha male, it’s what keeps me strive for more.

I enjoy good competition, and especially true in the endeavor which I’m not good at but had a level playing chance anyway. It’s great that Rich Roll achievements are not based on speed as I’m such a lousy slow runner. For a casual group, logging the km and push-up everyday are perfect. The number of each days will be summed up according to it’s weightage (1:1 for running, 40:1 for push-up) per month.

For a competitive freak like me, you got to be the champion! Or at least challenging for it! Of course it is just a casual friendly banter when you do top the group, but it’s winning anyway and why don’t use your competitive drive towards helping you form a new habit?

I had the honor of winning the pack in April, and although it seemed it is a walk in the park in May, i was blind sided by Ustad who was going on to win the next month as well. It’s a good effort on my part I believe; but it did not stop me to try harder on next month. Watch it Ustad!

3. Logging in itself, is a rewards for closing the habit loop.

There’s this whole science of Power of Habits, which I stumbled upon back in January. Since then, I made habit forming as technical as possible, having made quantum leap of stop smoking at the same time. The ideas are habit forming are largely influenced by cues and rewards on the following structure;

  • cue (time, place, people, certain preceding actions, emotions)
  • action (the habit itself)
  • rewards (or punishment, something your prefrontal cortex deemed as beneficial and seek to replicate)

The author argues that to have a chance of succeeding in forming new habits, we need to accentuate cues and rewards. For this running experience, the rewards both fabricated and internally are:

  • logging in itself, after every run makes you aware on the achievement, leading you to wanting to do more
  • there’s a rewards if you win, by being the winner and ego-boosting (bragging rights)
  • on every session, especially when I had push myself hard, there’s satisfaction that compares ‘like-a-boss’. It stems from having the guts to break away from normal path of slouching around and being accountable for the action (and lack of it)

4. Sense of a pack.

Tightly related to relationship and friendship, I felt for the most part I had the alternative healthy reason to spend time with my dear friends.

It is long accepted that if you want to spend time catching up with friends it had to be during mealtime and revolve around eating.

Having kids and work schedule make me be wary of the constraint and being more appreciative of whatever time left on the table.

Why don’t we devote into spending time which revolve around being healthy as the by-product? I’m seeing an expansive relationship as a result which previously a little bit one dimensional (colleague at work).

Afterall, we all want to have good friendships. It’s more meaningful if it had more threads and layers in it.

You got to fulfill that ‘sense of belonging’ needs as well. It is one of the 3rd level of Abraham Maslow’s need hierarchy. You had an inside jokes and happenings which only those in Rich Roll knows.

So there you have it. Reasons why Rich Roll are essential into getting me to run my first 10K. I am now looking forward to run my first half marathon in Oct. Currently in fasting month, we are slowing down but really hoping to come back with a bang next month.

Don’t forget to get Rolling boys.







3 Comment

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