All of us are accountable to someone. An elected democratic president is accountable to the people who elected him for the said post. Children are accountable to their parents for as long as they live with them and as long as they haven’t reached the legal age of adulthood depending on what country you live in. I still find it strange that in the Philippines the legal age for males is 21 years old to get married.
So now that I am unto my fifth training day for TITANIUM90, I feel that I am going to make it. I have this gut feel that somehow I will be able to sustain this training program. But that does not diminish the fact that I am still accountable to someone other than myself. But before I move forward to describe what this is I just want to share more on what accountability really means.
Being a former English language teacher, I cannot help it that the way I start with many articles is with a textbook or dictionary definition of a word. So just bear with me on this one if at times I bore you to death. For the word accountability, the root word is the word “account” and moving deeper into the context of that word it would be the word “count”.
So the question now becomes, what are the things that we count on, count for and count with in life?
Me? I count on the encouragement of family and friends. Living alone does not diminish the fact that I do get discouraged from time to time and no amount of self-encouragement greatly affects me more than the soothing words of good friends, the warmth and tingly sensation of hugging people and the opportunity to form deeper and lasting bonds even through just listening to each other. It’s something amazing and unique to humans. In the same manner, I’ve seen how the encouragement of one runner on the road to other runners experiencing physical pain and emotional distress could elevate their spirits and enable them to finish a grueling race event. So you see, this MILO MARATHON 2013 event for me is not just about me. It is a story of everybody else who is close to me and is involved in reaching the goal in my behalf through their concerted spirits that strengthen me with each foot that I strike on the road.
The next question is what do I count for? Do I count for something? Counting on other people can sometimes bring another form of depression too when people forsake us or worse, people misunderstand the things that we do or say. When I reached adulthood, the concept of counting for someone or counting for something in society changed. Before, all that matters to me is the pass my subjects and make it to the next semester. All of a sudden, I have to think about how to make it to regularization [in the Philippine setting it’s six months before one becomes a regular employee, for most sectors of the corporate world], think about career mapping and then when personal disasters strike it is only then that one begins to realize that there are far more important things than having a career. We are meant for something more. We count for something more than what this life has to offer.
But having a sense of accountability does not stop with understanding who we count for and whom we can count on when the chips are down and we’ve literally hit rock bottom in our lives. Accountability is also about knowing the depth of our social responsibility in the different spheres that we are involved in. There’s our immediate families where in my case I am a son to my mother, a brother to my sisters and an uncle to my nephews and nieces and a brother-in-law to those married to my sisters. I rarely interact with those outside the immediate family so I cannot share much on how it is to be a cousin or to be a good one at that. At work, it depends on what is my role. In the past decade my role was to follow orders and then that matured to managing people who have different expectations, different temperaments and also different personal agendas which no matter how varied as a team leader and manager I had to tow the line towards our common objectives in the company. Things change when I became a businessman.
So why bother sharing about having a sense of accountability? Whom am I accountable now that I am preparing for a full marathon in MILO? Well, there are two things that make me accountable. One, I am a professional social media person. Having a personal blog may have begun as something as I shared in previous entries – to get my emotions out of the way and to process the different things that are floating inside my head. But that has changed. When you have people regularly reading up on you and those people begin to interact with you and share their own experiences, I begin to see that I have a bigger responsibility. For instance, everybody can write and keep a journal. But not everybody can write for other people and express ideas with words that would make people read word after word and line after line and engage them to finish an entire article without boring them to death. It’s even tougher for writers nowadays as they compete for attention with mainstream media such as television and short video clips on the internet like YouTube.
But you get the idea, right? I have something unique that I can share and that’s something that I am accountable to God for because he gave me this ability, the passion and the heart to write about things.
The other reason is because this year, REEBOK is among the major sponsors again for the 37TH MILO MARATHON. And it just so happens that I am also one of the current running ambassadors of the REEBOK brand for the Philippines. As a brand ambassador, our tasks and our contract is quite simple — that we join race events per month, submit our pictures that we were there. In my case, I blog about the races that I join in and also submit them too. Yes, it is that simple. And yet though it is simple for us, most brand ambassadors really don’t have it that easy in their contracts especially those who get paid to do it. I don’t get paid to do it. I am only given an X amount of training gear from REEBOK. Me and Beep Beep are very happy about it because you can just imagine how much brand new pairs of shoes cost! That alone saves us money!
But as whole, I notice that REEBOK as a brand is not known as a running brand in this country. Majority of runners are either into NIKE, ADIDAS and other brands. REEBOK is known for their basketball shoes and their lifestyle fashion clothing and shoe line. So when people find out that I actually finished the Bataan Death March Ultramarathon using different pairs of REEBOK shoes, they find it amazing. REEBOK’s running shoes are indeed meant to perform and they are not as expensive too! Their top of the line running shoes can compete with the best technologies out there for a fraction or half of the cost that other people will churn out using other popular brands.
So there you have it. These things make me accountable towards my training program in TITANIUM90. And it’s the same reason why runners go to weekly training sessions of MILO APEX. They want to better themselves and it is only the coaches who can motivate and remind them of their goals. The same is true of those who join other running groups too because they want to have a sense of encouragement coming from other people. Running is an individual sport but at the very heart of it, it is actually more social than most people would like to accept because runners may run alone on the road but when they reach the finish line, they reach out to their families, friends and other colleagues to connect with their experience.
On my 38th Day of Running TITANIUM90, I still feel under the weather. But I press on because I know that this is something that I’ve dreamed of a long time ago. If you’re asking yourself how you can make yourself accountable, here are a few recommendations:
Step One — Have a goal in mind and share your goal to at least three of your closest friends. It does not necessarily have to be about running but since this is a blog that is mostly about running then it will be great to identify why you have started running, why you stopped running and what would motivate you to run again and what race event you plan to join.
Step Two — do a weekly review of your goals. This gives you a great excuse to meet up with your friends regularly and also gives your friends a chance to share their own dreams and aspirations in life. It’s also a great way to relieve stress that you experience whether it be work related or family related and gives you a chance to just let it out with those you can trust to be yourself. This idea is nothing new because support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous use it and even psychologists use the weekly therapy sessions with their clients. The same thing applies to those who hire personal coaches to train for a particular race event.
Step Three — Sticking to your goal means making adjustments. This simply means that you don’t carve everything in stone. Your goal is still the same. But your training schedule might change. Depending on your age, level of fitness and also the amount of time you can allot for your training runs — the effects of your run may prove too much for your overall health as it might take you awhile to get used to speed training. Or worse, the weather might change drastically and you can’t go out side for a run! You might even get sick midway of your training program. Don’t let these roadblocks discourage you. Instead, realign them with your goals and make the most out of each situation. For instance, getting sick is sometimes a good thing because it means your body is reacting positively to your training. It is telling you that you need to rest. Those sore muscles might be localized in certain areas and that speaks volume too because it may be the areas that either are overworked or needs more work depending on the degree of soreness.
I hope that these suggestions help your road to reaching your first race event, your first marathon and even your first ultramarathon! Till then, let my running prove the sunshine!