Fresh off a vibrant stag holiday, I found myself in my hometown of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ready to embark on the challenge - the "Weekday Warrior". Despite the lingering excitement from the festivities prior, I braced myself to run 42.2 kilometres over five days, all while recovering and acclimatising to the relentless heat and humidity that enveloped this bustling Southeast Asian metropolis. It is worth mentioning that I’m no stranger to endurance running, having completed a marathon before but unbeknownst to me, this adventure would not only lead me through the city's diverse landscapes but also to unexpected encounters with playful monkeys and unforeseen trials. This is the tale of my courage, perseverance, and the unforgettable journey that unfolded during my Weekday Warrior quest in Kuala Lumpur.
Day 1: A Humid Start
As I laced up my running shoes on the first day, the oppressive humidity wrapped around me like a warm embrace. As I was pounding the pavement with some quick 1-2’s (a term coined by the legendary ‘hardest geezer’), it quickly dawned on me that the heat and humidity posed a formidable adversary. The stark contrast in weather between London, where I live and Kuala Lumpur, where I grew up had also made me forget the unpredictable nature of weather in this part of the world. Beads of sweat were continuously dipping off my forehead as I was navigating the suburban streets around where my parents live. As I was getting into my rhythm, I hear thunder, loud enough to pierce my noise cancelling Air Pod Pro’s. A sudden tropical storm began with aggressive lightning and rain pelting down relentlessly, I was forced to seek refuge in a local petrol station and call its quits for the day. I managed to cover 4.38km before I was cut short by the unexpected turn of events, making me appreciate the challenges that lay ahead even more, not only in terms of the extra distance I needed to cover each day but how I was going to manage it whilst fighting the weather.
Day 2: The Jungle Encounter
On the second day, I decided to start slightly earlier in the afternoon to avoid any potential storms, but this came with increased temperatures which have been described as “like running in an oven”. I set off running a similar route to that I used on day 1, but it came with the bonus of seeing a group of macaque monkeys perched on the electrical wires above the road. I can only assume they adventured out of the nearby Botanical gardens to have a laugh at this man duped into the challenge by his manager at work (I’m kidding about being duped but not the monkeys having a giggle). But it did make the run more enjoyable. I managed to cover 9.06 km in what I described as “absolutely rancid” when my mother asked me how my run was. Despite being rejuvenated by the distance I was able to cover, I needed to be realistic in how I was going to a cover 28.22 km over the next three days. I went back to the drawing board and devised a plan I thought would be fool proof, and as you will find out, I was wrong.
Day 3: The Struggle is Real
By the third day, my body felt the strain of consecutive runs in the unforgiving conditions and the lack of quality preparation in the days prior. My legs were heavy, but I had an ace up my sleeve. I had the revolutionary idea of getting a one-month gym membership in the local area. I made my way to the gym, laced up and ventured over to a line of treadmills. I’ve never ran much on treadmills in the past, but little did I know, it was the beginning of perhaps the three most boring runs I’ve ever been on. I synced my Garmin watch to the treadmill and began running. It was far more comfortable running in the gym thanks to the air conditioning, so much so that I hadn’t noticed the time or the distance that I had run. After some quick maths, because I also hadn’t noticed the treadmill was in miles (a rookie error), I knew how far I had gone and ended up running 12.24km, bringing my total for the week to 25.68km. At this point, I knew the ball was in my court.
Day 4: Another day, another run
On the fourth day, seeking respite from the unyielding heat, I hit the gym again and hopped on a treadmill which was recording the distance in kilometres. As the rubber met the belt, I pushed myself through 8.50km, splitting the distance I needed to conquer on the final two days of the challenge. The air-conditioned environment continued to offer a refreshing change, but my mind wandered through boredom, and I was unable to unlock the flow state which has made me so fond of long distance running. All I wished for was to hit the tarmac again, but it wasn’t to be.
Day 5: The Final Stretch
With the finish line in sight, I summoned my last reserves of energy to get to the gym for the grand finale. I stomped my way through the final 8.50km on the treadmill which I came to repulse to hear that I was the first person ever to complete the Weekday Warrior challenge. An honour I thought worthy of all the trials and tribulations I had been through.
Fast forward two weeks and having cancelled my gym membership as I prepared to leave Kuala Lumpur, I received an unexpected surprised when the gym charged me for another month (a month where I wouldn’t even be in the country). After understanding some illogical rules and legal jargon, I let my case rest and accepted the monetary implications of my tactical fool proof plan, leaving me with an ironic reminder of the challenge.
Weekday Warrior has kick started a summer of running as I look to complete my second marathon of the year, the next one hopefully in a couple of hours and not across five days in an inferno. I’ll be sure to participate in the Weekday Warrior challenge again, perhaps even pursuing a longer distance.