Oprah Winfrey - my motivator to run sub4:30 at SCHKM2014 Full Marathon

Running is the greatest metaphor for life 
because you get out of it what you put into it. 
(Oprah Winfrey)

I started running as a hobby and joining local races end 2010. In 2011, I ran my first half marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon (SCKLM) with net time of 1 hour 56 min. A year later in 2012, I decided to lose my virginity - full marathon virginity that is - at the same event Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon SCKLM. Despite all the challenges, I was very happy to have achieved 4 hours 38 mins for my first 42km marathon run.

It's only after my first full marathon that I got to know that Oprah Winfrey runs too!! And not only she runs, Oprah runs 42 km marathon. And not only she runs 42 km, her finishing time at Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D. C. in 1994 was, and still is, one of the most talked-about marathon times. In fact, Oprah's official time was 4:29:15, which translates to 6:23 min / km.

When I found out about Oprah's official time of 4:29:15, I was totally humbled and crazily impressed by her achievement!

How could she finish a marathon in 4:29:25?
How did Oprah Winfrey do it?
All sorts of doubtful questions popped up in my mind:
  • Oprah didn't have a slim body like most runners
  • Oprah was so busy at her work and where could she find time to train?
  • Oprah didn't have to prove anything. Why did she do it? And did it so well?
  • What kind of diet did Oprah eat to give her the stamina?
  • What kind of training regime did Oprah go through?
Then shamefully, I also gave excuses for her solid marathon time of  4:29:15.
  • She was having her trainer to run with her throughout the race
  • She could afford to pay for nutritionist to plan her diet to keep her strong and with good stamina
  • She had the state-of-the-art shoe and all the running gear.
  • Washington DC's cold weather made her less tired and used less energy (unlike the hot humid tropical weather in Kuala Lumpur)
But one thing dawns on me about Oprah Winfrey: her MENTAL TOUGHNESS!
Oprah has one of the strongest mental strength that I've ever known. I believe she could have given herself all sorts of excuses for not running, for running slow, etc. But she didn't. She took up the challenge and she did the best she could. Only a humble person with such strong mental strength that could make her who she is today!

Your mind will quit a thousand times before your body will. Feel the fear and do it anyway!

In 2013, I ran 4 more marathons in a year. They were Ocean Island Marathon in beautiful Langkawi Island, Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, River Jungle Marathon in scenic Ulu Hangat, Selangor and my first overseas marathon in friendly city Taipei, Taiwan.
In all the marathons I ran, I only focused on one thing - TO BETTER OPRAH WINFREY's TIME OF  4:29:15.
I was so close at Taipei Marathon last year: 4:29:52; only 37 sec to equal Oprah's time. It didn't dampen my spirit. In fact, it motivated me further as a goal to achieve in 2014.
And on Feb 16, 2014, I ran my 6th marathon in Hong Kong.
Thanks to the nice cold weather of 12 degree celsius and competitive 4-5 hour running group I was placed in during the race, I finally managed to better Oprah Winfrey's time finally with my best time ever of 4:13. When I was about to reach finish line, I got emotional and almost burst into tears. I was so overjoyed and pleasantly surprised by the timing.

SCHKM 2014 - 42km route map

Of course the time would not earn me any podium finish. But it was my personal achievement - from 4:38 at my first marathon in 2012 to 4:13 at my sixth marathon within a span of 2 years. And I'm grateful for that.
Yes - Oprah Winfrey!! You are my inspiration. You have inspired me to give my best!! Your mental toughness taught me not to give up easily. And you turned all your disadvantages into a positive desired outcome against all odds. With that, I humbly salute you.

Oprah! I did it! Thank you!

I hope this personal sharing about my "running relationship" with Oprah Winfrey can help inspire many other runners.

Event date 2014.02.16
Written on 2015.09.22



  1. Replies
    1. Oprah Winfrey is an inspiration for me. :)

  2. That's amazing! All because of Oprah you're kicking butt in running now!!! Mental toughness....hmmm....that's GOT to be my biggest struggle. Would love to read a post on your thoughts about that (i.e. How to strengthen it, what YOU think about during your marathon, how do you embrace suffering). I apologize if you've already written about this subject as I am trying my best to catch up on all...and I mean ALL your posts :o)

    1. Dear Savitre, Yeah - Oprah is truly a great motivator for me. But I'm sure she doesn't know her impact on my running life. haha!

      Mental toughness is everyone's area for improvement. My mental strength is not very strong too. I believe everyone has his/her own way to push through.

      If there is a strong motivation or reason for a person to run, I'm sure that thought could help to carry a person through to the best the person could.

      For me - when running, I focus lots on my breathing and cadence - listening to my breathing and foot steps. Like meditation. haha! It helps me to keep myself to have efficient running as much as possible.

      I also pray.. for God's strength when I know my body can't cope anymore. I also think of how my late-mom would have been there for me at finish line and how I wanted to make her proud..

      And in some cases, if I face challenges, then I think of even tougher situations that I have been through before or some other people who have been through before. That gives me the push that what i face now is nothing compared to what others have gone through. Then I am inspired by them to make myself better...

      does it make sense? :) I hope it does though! haha! I'm also struggling. just sharing thoughts in my head .. :)