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A runner’s coat of arms

I decided to start the #TheRealArtOfRunning section in this blog just to see how my first love – drawing – might jive with my running exploits. The pun is intended; a literal twist on a familiar cliche. Rather too many resources are cropping up toting their contents as “The Art of [Insert Subject-Matter of Interest]”, so I thought, why not do some real art about running and see what comes out of it?

Sunday night isn’t quite the best time of the week for motivations to doodle, but I had to get something going; it was now or never. I surfed social media, not for inspiration but just to let a wash of random information clear my head.

A friend visiting Edinburgh had posted a photo of the cafe where J. K. Rowling penned the Harry Potter series.

The coat of arms of Hogwarts suddenly materialised in my mind. If a runner would have a coat of arms, what might its motto be?

Images posted on runners’ groups exhorting motivation scrolled past me. No, I wasn’t going to borrow someone else’s words. What goes through my mind when I run?

I pictured myself on an endless uphill halfway through a half-marathon course, the end still not in sight. My protesting legs feel heavy, but I know, from having done it once, that if I switched gaits to a walk I would regret it. Don’t walk, don’t stop running.

Don’t stop running.

I drew a ribbon and inscribed “Whatever happens, don’t stop running!” onto it. I added my newly-hatched hashtag at the end. Awesome.

I need to be less perfectionist than this.

I need to be less perfectionist than this.

My coat of arms needed something in the centre. Then I realised I can’t draw running shoes for nuts. I wasted at least three sheets of A4.

I finally got the proportions of a generic running shoe roughly representative of the real thing, and proceeded to add a bird’s outspread wing to its heel. Just for the fun of it. Don’t we all wish we have wings on our shoes?

What else would a runner have on her personal insignia? Why, other running gear, of course! I went through my checklist of running things. Shoe(s), check. My mp3 player was next. Sunglasses – you never know when you need them. Cap, mostly to keep hair and sweat from sticking to my face. I run with a water bottle in hand. And finally, well, I don’t run with it, but hey, an anti-chafing stick can be a lifesaver. Lifesavers certainly deserve a place on my badge of honour. Oh, speaking of lifesavers – of course, the ID band.



I sketched the outlines.

I thought it might be a neat trick to draw a finish line across the lenses of the sunglasses.

I experimented with a bunch of lines, dots and details here and there.

The clock struck midnight and I figured, ok, this is good enough for a first drawing, after at least 10 years of having left pen and paper at the back of the bottom drawer.

Graphics applications and Ctrl-Z have been great inventions, but pens and blank paper, I have missed you! 

A runner's coat of arms

My runner’s coat of arms!

About speedshuffle (75 Articles)
Wen Li is a runner, blogger, mother, educator and artist. She is the Co-Founder and Cartoonist of Malaysia's first comic strip on running, Running Toons ( and is a Compressport Ambassador. Her running story was featured in Marie Claire Malaysia's April 2016 issue alongside several other notable women running bloggers. She runs wherever the road takes her, come scorching sunshine, stifling humidity or relentless rain (and preferably to a Nasi Lemak breakfast!). Apart from pounding the asphalt, she also enjoys hiking and pilates, and is now attempting CrossFit!

6 Comments on A runner’s coat of arms

  1. your motivational doodle made me miss running more! do you do full marathon?

  2. That’s a pretty long Anti-chafing stick, what brand is that?? 😝 and oh, I think we share the same blood type too (A+) right? 😌

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