Full-Time OFW, Part-Time Runner

By , , Himself

Arnel at Bromo Marathon.

Wake up - Eat Breakfast - Work - Eat Lunch - Work - Go Home - Eat Dinner - Sleep... Repeat!

This is a typical routine for the many of us working abroad. Being into such a cycle, many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) eventually realise that they will acquire sickness or health problems that will require maintenance medicines, frequent visits to the doctor and so on. I am one of them, and I have met a lot of Pinoys here in Indonesia that fell into the same trap. It is very easy to neglect our health because of our lifestyle as OFWs.

When I first came to Indonesia, I realise that there was so much spare time after work. Typically these spare hours are spent eating out with friends, hanging out and drinking alcohol (a lot!). And since routines are always established, we get to make these regular "sessions" of eating and drinking. This is our form of addressing homesickness, sticking together and having fun.

Discovering running

Two years ago, I had an opportunity to join a 10K fun run. I was really hesitant at first but since the sponsor for the jersey is a famous brand, I gave it a go.

I did not put much attention to the race and did not do any preparation for it. In fact, the night before the race I was in a "regular drinking session" with my friends. The next morning, the race experience was so dreadful. It felt like everyone was leaving me behind because I was too slow. I completed 10K in almost two hours and it was really disappointing for me.

It was that time when I realised how "unhealthy" I was and decided that I want to improve and challenge myself.

Transitioning to a healthier lifestyle

I started to train myself to wake up early in the morning to jog, run or walk as many times as possible. Instead of spending my spare hours drinking and eating, running has become my new routine. And I feel better than before! I started joining more running events, from 10K run to half-marathons until I was able to complete my first full marathon!

I will never forget my first marathon because the day after, I had to go to work and I could not even walk properly. But the reward of self-fulfillment is priceless. Being sore after a marathon is the best pain I will gladly embrace over and over again. At this point in time, my passion for running has become stronger than ever.

Being surrounded with runners

WeeRun Surabaya at an event

In the process, I met new friends who are members of a running community. I get to greet them along the streets where I usually run and they gradually invited me to their group and welcomed me as their own. Now I get surrounded by people who constantly try to better themselves every time and push their friends to get better as well.

I guess one of the biggest changes in my mindset is how before, I just wanted to finish a run, but now I am willing to work to beat my personal best. Recently I was able to better my time in a full-marathon by more than 40 minutes!

I am thankful that because of their dedication to the sport, they were able to influence me to work harder and be in a higher level of training. I am thankful for my WeeRun Surabaya family who has shown me the importance of discipline and goal setting.

Running is my escape now whenever I am homesick.

Whether I am in the Philippines or here in Indonesia, I always check for possible events that I can join in. I know that I still have a lot to work to do because I am still in the process of getting better. And I do not see myself stopping any time soon.

Being healthy is the best gift I can reward myself as I continue to support my family back home. Running has been a very big part of it because it has changed my lifestyle in so many ways.

Arnel comes from the Philippines and is a high school math teacher at Cita Hati Christian School East Campus in Surabaya. He usually runs around Pakuwon City or the Central Surabaya area.

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