It all started when I was in the army. Running was never my cup of tea. One fine morning, Asic’s representative came down to my Wing with a whole selection of shoes to choose from. Attached to it was their irresistible offer. I thought to myself. Since I had never own a proper running shoe before, maybe it is a good time for me to own one. It could even help me get the $200 incentive for achieving Gold in IPPT. It would then make a good investment. Therefore, I bought the DS Trainer XI which was sold at a discounted price of $130. At that point of time, I never knew how the decision of making that purchase will change my life! It was just the beginning.
As a cadet, one of our training is called endurance run where the distance got longer as we progresses. The longest distance that we covered was 12km. I completed it in 55mins. I was surprised with the timing I got. Before enlistment, my 10km timing was about an hour. Within a short period of several months, being force to run every morning, it had really improved my stamina.
Then it became more like a challenge. Not with others, but with one self. How far can I go? How much faster can I be? Are the questions that go through my head each time I put on my running shoe. After about a year of NS, I managed to achieve 8mins 52secs for my 2.4km run. I really gave my all. Though that I would never beat my 2.4km PB again. But I was wrong.
As I became an instructor for the second half of my NS life, things change. I don’t run when I’m being told to, but I decide when to run. It started to become a habit. Running in the evenings as I watch the sunset in the distance horizon became a routine. After a while, I’m able to finish top three in my own unit when they organised running competitions. When my CO asked me to represent my unit in Tekong challenge, it gave me a sense of hope that I can do well in this sport.
Then came NUS. Initially, I signed up for two CCAs. One was Cross-Country while the other was Rock Climbing. Yes, before I love to run, I love to climb. In fact I still love to climb. To side track a bit, I start climbing the drainage pipe just outside my house when I was about five years old followed by the obstacles around my neighbourhood. Before long, I even started climbing mango trees when I saw strangers standing underneath it hoping that the mangos would fall. But during the Rock Climbing trial, I did not make the cut for the IVP Team. That’s because I wasn’t using the proper technique, but more of the “kampong” technique that I developed. Maybe it was a blessing in disguised as I’m now a proud member of the NUS X-Country Team!
It’s been two years since I started training with the team. I never had a coach before. Having one makes me want to push harder and faster each time I came down for training. Yes it is tiring and I have to admit it. But the satisfactory feeling that I get after a good running session is really worth it. After about six months of training with the team, the captain asked me whether I would like to run for SAA Cross-Country and so I did. It was a 5km race and I managed to clock a timing of 19mins 30secs. Even though I’m far from the elite runners that joined the competition, it was a memorable run for me. I wasn’t even expecting to hit below 20mins.
My next memorable run was the Nike Human Race 2009. It was a 10km race. The route was wonderful and the view was spectacular. But the Sun was scorching hot! It did not stop me from performing my best. As my best, is always yet to come. While running, I tried to focus on the person in front of me. Slowly inching closer as I ran the race. When I’m on par, I tried to stay comfortable and relax, the two words that Coach likes to use, while trying to intimidate my competitor at the same time. Once I think I’m ready, I will go for the next person in front of me applying the same technique. I managed to achieve my PB with a timing of 39mins. But seeing how my other teammates and beloved friends did well for that race gave me even more motivation to perform better.
But before that, I had to go for a surgery on my right knee to treat an injury that I got when I was still in BMT. Thankfully, with the intensive boot camp that I had during my physiotherapy sessions, I was up and running again within a couple of months. I took my training even more seriously. Giving all I had each time I did my intervals. Running is no longer a habit, but more of an addiction.
Back in my poly days, hearing people running under 9mins 45secs for 2.4km did not inspired me. In fact, I thought they were crazy. But I guess I’m the crazy one now. A non runner will always be wondering what you are running for. You are not in a soccer match where you are motivated to go after the ball or when you are late for school and therefore have to chase after the bus at the bus stop. So what are you running for? For me, it’s the feeling of satisfaction knowing that you gave your all and tested your endurance to the limit. Running is more than just a sport to me, its part of my life. I feel healthier and fitter as the days goes by. And naturally, I started to have a good sleeping pattern and also started to eat right. I guess I will never stop running as long as I’m still able to walk. And I’m really grateful to have a loyal and dedicated group of runners to run beside me.