Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hong Kong Marathon - Flexifitness - Junior Athlete's Performance

Flexifitness Junior Runners Rose to Occasion

By Rameshon

The three runners from Flexifitness, Darren, Mariviv Tan and Ruben Loganathan were training hard for the Hong Kong Marathon 10km. Their training went very well, and the training strategy, over time, included some hills, in the workout. Many gave feedback that they enjoyed the hills. However, it should be noted that there were flat course in the training as well.

When we were in Hong Kong, we stayed in a hotel near the start. Many of the runners were also staying in a hotel near the start area of the race as well. It was a stone's throw to collect the goodie bag, the next day, after the arrival in Hong Kong on Friday. Darren Tan was sick for about 2 weeks, before leaving for Hong Kong, and he also found that he was wrongly registered in half - marathon, instead of the 10km race in Hong Kong StanChart Marathon event. Nevertheless, I decided to tell him to run half -marathon as 10km can be very stressful for him, as he may exert to do a sub - 4min  per kilometres, which may lead to risk of collapse as conditioning for the 10km race needs more intensity and frequency in training. As predicted, a 4min 30sec per km was possible for Darren, he decided to run the race. 

Picture 1 - Darren Tan is Ruben's teammate

In the half-marathon race, Darren did a 1hr 34min. While running, he ran into some problems as he got stomach upset. He was looking for a mobile toilet and he found one and spent nearly 2min inside. Many praised Darren for a new personal best time, as many Army Commandos top runners are doing this kind of time. 

As for Ruben Loganathan, he has a personal best time of 17min 04sec for the 5km SAA Cross Country Championships 2018, which included a surprising hill of steep slope. He has a 16min 42sec for 5km which has only flat course in SAA Cross Country Championships 2017. In last year's Hong Kong Marathon 10km race, he was unplaced and he was more than 60 over position, with a time of 37min plus. In this year's race, he did a time of 36min 27sec, which was a big personal best time. 

Picture 2 - Ruben Loganathan is first in SAA Cross Country Race 2018

We also had soft spoken Tan Mariviv who trained hard. Although she handled a lot of projects for Flexifitness and handling a number of admin work, she did a 41min 30sec and was ranked 12th in the 10km race for women. We jumped for joy as I found out that her time was 20m 11sec for the 5km split. Mariviv has, a year back, done a time of 43min 44sec for the 10km Hong Kong Marathon event race in the past. She was elated but on the other hand she felt that there could be more that she could have given.

Last year, Mariviv was training as she needed experience. She found the hills very challenging. However, with very good leadership in Flexifitness, it was surprising that she excelled in running as well.  

Picture 3 - Mariviv Tan, 3rd in Shape Run 2017, with teammates. 

Mariviv, Ruben and Darren are rare runners for Flexifitness as they have done a lot of sacrifices for us to do a lot of admin work, lately. Despite all the selfless work that they have done, the getting of very good timing makes us happy. Mariviv was ranked 2nd for her junior age group for women open. Mariviv is also first in 2017 StanChart 10km junior in women category of the race.

Hence, we have now two runners  are topping in Singapore for their age group. We would also like to thank Dr Gordon and his wife Jamie for help given. We also would like to thank Saranniya, who was present in Hong Kong to give moral support to our athletes.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Flexifitness - What It Stands For

By Murugiah Rameshon

Recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has mentioned in last year's National Day message on the importance of health, as one of the 3 key areas for government and the public, at large, to work at. He mentioned that we can get disease in the long run if we ignore Health. One in three Singaporeans have diabetes. Hence, it is important for us to know that getting sick is not an option as healthcare will be an issue over time, and it can be expensive for the individual and government to bear.

Seeing the trend, and after doing some research, Flexifitness was formed to address the problem of health and fitness long time ago to help Singaporeans to lose weight, and maintain a healthy in life as a lifestyle for oneself. Over time, the group of 6 people, small group, expanded to more than 100 of enlistees here, over a period of 6 years.

The three focus of Flexifitness was on health, fitness and performance for kids, young adults and adults as well. As for kids, the long term goal was to get people to take opportunity of the window period between the age of 5 and 16 years of age. The Young Champions Programme for kids focuses on children's motor skill development, stamina, swimming strokes, speed, agility and coordination. The programme is such that one can take a chosen sports in the long term as a lifelong activity. With this goal in mind, Flexifitness achieved a lot within 6 years of continuation of the programme, and it can be seen from the stellar results it has achieved.

A number of our programme kids and adults sign up extensively for personal training, and it is done outdoors, usually. Many, here start off from running 5km races, and then increase their running distance to 10km. Within 3 years athletes, young and old, have progressed from 1hr 30min to 55min, on average, for a period of 3 years. Over time, usually a year later, the developing participant decide to run the half-marathon. Finally, another year later, a number of our runners managed to run the marathon.

While doing the training, on average, about 93 people have reduced their weight by an average range of 8-10kg. For the past 6 years, we have about eight people, who could, within a span of 9 months, reduce their weight by 20kg. We do have runners who are 5/6 hours plus for the marathon. After the training given, most of them can do sub – 5 hours. We have 4 ladies, having the ability to do sub-4 hours, for women. They are Shireena Woon, Jennifer Quek, Li Ping and Mariviv Tan. Currently, we also have 10 athletes who has done sub-3 hours, for the marathon, highest for a running group in Singapore. About 149 men and 67 women have done below 5hours and 6hours for marathon, as we see the record for six years running the programme.

We have Mr Balaji, who have never run before, doing a 1hr 20min for 10km, in year 2015, improving the time to 1hr 04min, in year 2016, and then is able to do 59min for 10km. He also did the half-marathon in a time of 2hr 36min in the Stanchart Marathon 2017 race. About 50 people within the span of 5 years, have improved their time between half an-hour and an hour for the marathon races.

In the POSB Run 2017, for Men Open, all three runners ended as podium finishers, but also about seven of our athletes were top 11 in the men open. In 5km, Alisa was first for girls under 14 years of age. Overall, our group had about 62 participants for the race.

In POSB Run, we had Samuel, age 8 years of age winning third in his 800m race. Several years, our athletes usually keep winning the top 3 for the kids category. 

At present 2 girls who could do a time of below 11min for 2.4km are below 12 year of age. There are 20 boys from our group who can do 12min and below for 2.4km. About 8 athletes are able to do sub - 8min for 2.4km race. 

Picture 1 -In Hong Kong Marathon, Saranniya (59min), Mariviv Tan (43min), Jamie with son Ian, Dr Gordon(sub- 6 hours marathon), Ethan, Joseph Ho (sub 6 hours marathon), Rameshon, Kelvin Wong and Ruben Loganathan (10km- 36min) 
In Singapore Cross Country Race 2017, Ruben Loganathan came in second for Boys Under 20, with a time of 16min 42sec. He is right now, ranked top 3 in Singapore for his age group, from age 14 and above, for 5km to 10km. Very recently, he has done the 2.4km test between 7min 14sec and 7min 17sec four times.

Mariviv Tan, who did 10km time in 2XU Run 2017 in 44min, earlier on, was able to do a time of 42min in Shape Run 2017, later on for women open. She has recently done a 2.4km test in 8min 54sec. In Shape Run and 2 XU Run, she has come in second position, in the women Open category. Mariviv came in first in the women 14 to 19 year of age for the 10km for girls, Stanchart Marathon. 

Picture 2 - Dr Ansgar Cheng and Coach Murugiah Rameshon

In the veteran category, for Men Open, we have 51year old Dr Ansgar Cheng, who came first in 5km with a time of 17min 39sec, Asian Masters Championships 2017. Dr Ansgar did 37min 00sec for last year’s 10km POSB Run. Dr Ansgar recently did 7min 42sec for the 2.4km time trial and his two daughter Alisa (14 years of age) did 9min 45sec, while Hana (13 year of age) did 9min 57sec. Moonlake, Dr Ansgar’s wife, did 10km in 59min this year and it was a personal best time.

We have many here taking part in ultra marathon races. We also have Dr Andreas Wenger, 38, doing a time of 72hours for 320km in Singapore Ultra Marathon race. He came in 3rd in the Men Open category.

Picture 3 - second from left, Mr Li, running 7 continent, and second from right is Dr Andreas Wenger. 

With 3 months of heavily packaged programme, finally, we have a runner Mr Li who has trained very religiously and he is going to 7 marathons, daily, in 7 continents. He has trained under my guidance and we are hoping that he will succeed the race with good physical and mental fitness. Finally, in the programme, we do have mental training which makes one excel in whatever we do.

Singapore Athletics Affiliated and Non Affiliated Clubs

By Rameshon

When I was training in England between year 1992-1994, I had to run three races for the Loughborough University Cross Country Team. To my surprise, I saw so many clubs, with their different colour vests for the race. It was league one race and Loughborough University was included. I have never seen this sight in Singapore. 

The best runner of the second league Cross Country, in year 1992, could do 2hr 12min in a marathon race. Such was the difficulty of the championships. 

In league one, all 90-100 runners were capable of doing sub-34min or may be sub - 33min for 10km race for the track or for road races. At that time, I have already done five sub 33min, in Singapore, or my 10km races, on the track and on sanction road races, as well. (Note: Races in Singapore during my time, early 1990s were all sanctioned. Right now, we have only two of all the races which are sanctioned by SAA to race. A sanctioned race time can be used for accuracy and validity of the race distance and timing. In the past, the race time and distance, were therefore accurate as opposed to what we see now. IAAF believes in sanctioned races).

Any way, coming back to the story, on the cross country races in UK, the spectators during the cross country leagues were spectacular. There were kids and adults along the route were cheering their friends or children. Once, a road sweeper came to our assistance to tell the detail of the course and I found what he said were correct. 

The competition was of very high standards and I came in 67th in the UK Cross country league one, out of 93 very strong runners. Between 1990 till 1992, I was coming in first in Singapore for races between 5km and marathon, besides coming in first in 1500m, most of the time. However, earlier on, with the current position of 67th position, at that time, it made me sad and frustrated. 

Only after seeing Gary Lough, Puala Radcliffe's (current world record holder for marathon) husband, coming in 45th position, his run became a consolation for me for not getting the top 10 position for the race. Why? It was because Gary Lough had once beaten Steve Cram, a former world record holder for 1500/mile, in a competitive races. 

The distance ran in the Cross Country races were between 9 and 10km. It is not easy to run the race, as the cross country race was 10 times worst than Bedok Reservoir. It seems like a road run going on here rather than a cross country race. I would not dispute Mac Ritchie Reservoir as a good ground for a cross country race. When compared, the standard with Singapore, standard, at that time, I felt that we were really behind time. These races in UK were more structured than in Singapore. I was talking to some affiliated and non affiliated clubs on the above statements, and all agree on the points raised. 

Hence, I feel that the affiliated clubs in overseas are very popular and the number is really big and more. Here, the affiliated clubs like Swift, Flash, Red Hawk etc do not have a high rate of participation as compared to the past, participation were quite acceptable. Non affiliated clubs will have more people participating and it is very popular, currently in Singapore. Why? It is because right now, people are able to afford. As a coach can he or she is usually paid, and the individual's training programme and performance will have more consistency, and that means one will do better. Hence, many in Singapore have predominantly joined clubs Flexifitness and Singapore Shufflers for their high standard of performance. In POSB Run 2017, both groups mentioned took nearly all the top individual and team prizes. 

Hence, it is a good idea to invite both groups,  Flexifitness and Shufflers etc into the SAA Cross Country races so that both and other non affiliated clubs will ensure some form of progress in standard of Singapore Athletics rather than a downward spiral standard going on. An individual by the name of Sam, not the real name, told me that their affiliated clubs wants to boycott, although they have planned the race to be run from last year. 

It is not just about high standard of maintained in running but it also in supporting the government initiatives. Our Prime Minister has mentioned that one of the three focus for the government and for public as well is to be aware of reducing diseases. One in three Singaporeans have diabetes  and it is a worrying trend. I did a research on Sports Participation  in year 2008 for my Masters in Education, University of Western Australia, 2005 to 2008. In my research, it was found the government will spend about 10 billions in a decade. This is like reducing the government reserves, which is finally the people of Singapore's reserve. More participation in sports means lesser chance of getting diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, and certain cancer diseased. Most of the diseases can be prevented by the public involving in health and fitness activities.  

By inviting both affiliated and non affiliated, the team effect of bringing developing runners as well will bring about more runners to come forward and work as a unit, where friendship will be derived and it will support the government initiative.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

LTC Kesavan Soon's Contribution - Former Vice President (1980s and 1990s)

By Rameshon

Picture 1 - LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon (Behind, in the middle)

In the early 1990s, N. Ganesan went through 2 coaches before coming to me for training and his coaches were my friends as well. The former had a time of 16min 46sec for 5km. Knowing this, Ganesan came to me to improve his time. 

In four months time, using time off from SAFSA, as a hockey player,  Ganesan, also trained very hard in running. He had to double up. He kept training consistently. He was made to do intensive workouts by me in the late evenings and he did 15min 41sec for Singapore Open 1992, while I did 15min 31sec. 

I tried my best to get Ganesan time off to train by writing to his army unit etc but it was to no avail. We can see that this is a problem even now with athletes in Singapore. The real talented athletes are not able to come out of army, and it needs ironing out. This is also why Singapore's 5km standard, as a whole, is very low compared to many parts of the world, even until now. 

The races are also not structured well in Singapore - road races and cross country as well. Very few races are organised well such that the public can benefit from the race. A number of times talented athletes are omitted from very important races by lack of encouragement in registration process for races. 

We need people like LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon, who does not know N. Ganesan much but was supportive such that the latter later on did 14min 57sec for 5km, and was able to break the 15min barrier. The first one to do it. 

Hence, we need people, who not just giving lips service that they will help when they come to power. Instead, when come to power, they actually forget their role to make things transparent and ensure a fair competition for all. Transparency has been a problem in Singapore Athletics and it is time that something needs to be done. 

I was told by some in Singapore on why the standard will not come up. A parent told me that in swimming his daughters had fair competition and that things are transparent and there are fair rules.  However, he found that in athletics things are not transparent enough. Internal scrutiny is very important as there may be favouritism going on. 

As a Vice President of Singapore Athletics, LTC (Retired) Kesavan Soon will always be remembered and cherished and we hope that other leaders also follow suit. We hope that they do not just cling to power and only are looking forward for people to praise them, but to do one's work properly and help the appropriate, fit and the correct athlete to go for overseas competition by organising a fair competition. 

Organising a good race in Singapore is becoming a dream. To see a good competition in Singapore is like seeing a unicorn in real life. It is becoming an impossible thing. We just hope that people in authoritative position do something to raise the standard of Singapore Athletics. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Injury - When in doubt, consult or pull out.

By Rameshon

Picture 1 - When in doubt, consult or don't do it1

I wrote about the 2008 Stanchart Marathon, held in Singapore, in website. It was a year that Dr Ben Tan, Daniel Ling and i came in 3rd, 2nd and first in men open category, respectively. 

My progress was very good for that year, but I knew that I would not be able to do a 2hr 34min 02sec, which I did in Singapore International Marathon 1994. Daniel Ling, my former colleague that I was training, was sometimes getting injury and he was visiting Dr Ben Tan at that time. While training, as training mates, we did not know who is going to be first, second and third for Stanchart Marathon 2008.  Here, I feel that it is good for me to share something that I did that enabled me to get the 2hr 49min for 2008 Stanchart Marathon.

I am sharing this as there is lesson to learn still, especially on the art of not getting injury. I had planned for 6 workouts for the Stanchart Marathon 2008. All went well and there was no injury. However, I had some sensation coming from my achilles tendon for the very last workout, 10 days just before the race itself. The good thing is that the achilles tendon problem came at the very last minute and I had sensation and I was pondering on what to do. Finally, I told myself that it is good to stretch and warm up and see how the pain in the achilles tendon is going to be. 

Just before the last workout of Stanchart Marathon, I decided to back out. I believe that it is advisable to follow this and if one is in doubt, it is wise to do away with the workout, and do other form of training which can alternate the training, without compromising getting injured. 

The fortunate thing was that I was able to converse with Dr Ben Tan, as he was himself an orthopaedic surgeon. I asked him," Is it good to miss the last workout." I thought he will say a no. Opposite to what I was thinking, he told me that what I could do is to look at the sensation. If the sensation is same during the steady run, it is all right to run. But if the sensation keeps going up, he told me to pull out during the run itself. 

Taking his suggestion, I ran the tempo 15km and I did about a 55min plus, while Daniel did 56min. Dr Ben Tan did 59min, which was a personal best for him. Miraculously, I found that the sensation was not there after 2km. It vanished during the run and even after the run. I got only Dr Ben Tan to thank as I could not have done the 15km tempo without his advice. 

As some of us have no advisors, it is wise to pull out from injury. Else, one might not be able to run on the day itself. My two cents worth to 'when in doubt' is to pull out of the workout or not to do the training, but find alternative ways to train, which may prevent an impending injury which is about to appear shortly. One can do the workout on another day, instead, when one finds that it is safe to do the tempo, by ensuring that there is no gradual increase in the sensation during the run.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

An Interview With Coach Rameshon -Sub - 2hours 24min 22 sec (Part 1)

By Saranniya

Sub - 2hr 24min 22sec mission starts now. 

(Left to Right) Evan Chee (3rd), Ruben (2nd) Coach Rameshon, Coach Saravanan and Dr Ansgar Cheng (Champion) for POSB Run 2016

All along, when Coach Rameshon starts to train hard, I used to tell him that he has already achieved everything that he wanted, especially breaking the national record in Singapore and also in qualifying for the Olympics. It is for the youngsters to go for it!

On top of that, he also have a Bachelor of Science Degree from the famed Loughborough University of Technology, where he studied Physical Education and Sports Science (1992-1994). In Year 2008, he finally finished his Masters in Education in the reputed University of Western Australia. In that year, as a teacher-coach, he was instrumental in winning the National Schools Cross - Country and Track and Field 'A' Division, for under 18 years of age for Hwa Chong Institution (College Section)in his lifetime. Overall, he has 12 National Schools' Cross - Country Titles. He was instrumental in getting 10 titles for National Track and Field Championships for Hwa Chong Institution.

Having said that, I felt that there is no need to prove oneself if one has achieved. He told me that it is important to keep oneself fit and healthy throughout in life. Hence, he kept fit all the way until now, and I have evidenced this all the time. During his own time, he will independently do fitness work when needed. Moreover, I have seen him really running and exercising during the personal training sessions. 

At the same time, I was able to come down in weight from 60kg to 42kg by four years, which enabled me to win second overall position in National School Cross - Country Race for under 17 years of age for girls, last year. our fellow Flexifitness athlete Mariviv Tan came in fourth overall in the 3.5km race. 

Flexifitness Athletes in POSB Run 2016

Recently, few months back, Coach Rameshon told me that without Ashley Liew (who has a personal best of 2hour 32min for New Orleans Marathon 2015) here, we do not have anyone doing a real sub-40min for 10km. Knowing this, with a team of dedicated athletes like Dr Benny Goh, Jensen, Thow Wee, Andreas, Brian Ye, Ruben, Evan, Yogaraj, Darren, and not forgetting the Dr Ansgar, he worked hard to enable them to do a sub-40min. It was because of this that Coach Rameshon stopped serious running for some time. Currently, as the dream has been realised, when Evan Chee won third position in Stanchart Marathon 2015 and when Colin came in 4th overall for men open category, he is rethinking again to train hard. Recently, five of our runners ran and did sub - 39min for POSB 10km Run. All top five individual athletes in the race were from Flexifitness. In the race, Dr Ansgar Cheng, 50, from Specialist Dental Group, came in first with a net time of 37min 00sec. It was a very big achievement for us. 

That marked the day of there are many who can do sub-40min easily. As such, Coach Rameshon has finally decided to run not for fitness alone but for performance as well. However,  this time it is not to win anything but to challenge himself with his own time - the 2hr 24min 22sec. After winning the 2008 Stanchart Marathon in Singapore, he was going for the 2hr 24min 22sec time. He did 52min 30sec in Singapore for 15km, one month before the Stanchart Marathon 2009, but he got injured in the process, and took three years to get out of it. 

After the successful POSB race, where our top 8 runners were positioned in top 14, with four ladies coming in top 13 in the women open category, plus five kids getting overall top 8 position in the POSB Run 2016, Coach Rameshon told me that it is fun to challenge the 2hr 24min 22sec which he missed out earlier on. 

I have given an interview and have got his exhaustive and detailed answers. For the benefit of readers, I will put it up soon. So, watch for it!

Coach Rameshon And His Revisit of Sub-2hr 24min 22sec Marathon Challenge.

By Saranniya

Team Flexifitness - Cheering Group for Dr Ansgar Cheng's Prize Giving Ceremony for coming in as the champion in 5km Men Masters in 17min 39sec. 

"Why can't" - A favourite saying of Dr Ansgar Cheng

Revisit of aiming for sub-2hour 24min 22sec, challenging with own time. 

My intention of writing this is to state my wonder whether Coach Rameshon, 51, has ever tried thinking of doing a time of 2hr 24min 22sec, still currently the Singapore National Record, again.

The first time he broke the record was in year 1990, in Hong Kong Marathon, where he came in 5th overall, with a time of 2hr 31min and won a cash prize of $3000.

Coach Rameshon has ran 2hours and 30min and below, five times- 2hr 30min (California Rim Marathon 1990), 2hr 29min (Flora London International Marathon 1993, April). 2hr 28min (Berlin International Marathon, 1993, Sept), 2hr 29min (SEA Games first qualifier,1995, Feb, and the SEA Games route was verified by the Thailand officials to go ahead to use it for SEA Games) and in the same Chiangmai, Thailand, he did a time of 2hr 24min 22sec, smashing the national record, yet again.

After seeing this, I have asked him of any future running pursuits. He said," Many have asked me to run again and they are keen to see me run, to the point that they want to see how fast I can run". He told me that at forty, in the past, he wanted to win the Stanchart Marathon, but it evaded him. In year 2007, his runner by the name of Daniel Ling won the Stanchart Marathon in 2hr 46min, defeating triple year winner Elangovan Ganesan. Mr Rameshon ended second position.

In year 2008, Mr Rameshon ran and did 2hr 49min in Stanchart Marathon in Singapore and came in as the champion of the race. His runner Daniel Ling was second and Dr Ben Tan, whom he was training was third (2hr 56min), the first Singaporean Doctor to run sub-3hour for a marathon. 

Coach Rameshon told me that in year 2009, he wanted to do a sub-2hr 40min, and then attempt to do a sub - 2hr 30min and aim to do a sub- 2hr 24min, but this evaded him as he got injured due to an injury related to the knee. In that year, Dr Benny Goh was third while Ashley Liew was first runner up for the Stanchart race that year.

"Adidas was supporting me to do a sub-2hr 24min 22sec and I was hoping to do in year 2010 to 2012. My plan failed as I kept getting injuries. "

To my question, recently on," Is there any possibility of going near or even breaking the time of 2hr 24min 22sec again" , He said, " Why not!" "Anything is possible". "One must believe in miracles and it is ok to go for it." " If one can get it is good, if I don't, it is ok and the challenge is not with the youngsters but with myself." I just need to keep away from injuries."

To the question of when he is going to attempt, he said, it starts now. "It is me against myself, I have done it in the past and with the empowered present informed knowledge of preventing injuries, diet and being aware of the new training methodology and training techniques to get faster, I may get it and it is always a thrill to challenge oneself". "Infact, the challenge starts from today."

Picture 1 - (Left to Right) It was Teamwork - Daniel Ling(2nd), Rameshon (1st) and Dr Benedict Tan (3rd) for Stanchart Marathon 2008, in Singapore