Monday, June 29, 2015

Ashley's Sharing with Flexifitness Athlete and Parents

Ashley's Sharing Session
Ashley Liew has a personal best time of 2hr 32min 12sec, second overall in Men Open Category for New Orleans Marathon 2015. 

By Saranniya

On 20th of June 2015, during our Young Champions Programme session, Ashley Liew, 28, shared with our  young athletes and parents about his 42 day experience in Kenya. He also spoke in summary on the importance of showing good sportsmanship in competition. 

The experiences, especially in Kenya, shared by Ashley was truly an eye opener for all of us on how dedicated athletes train and achieve excellence.

I hope that, after reading the article, athletes will choose the right path to success and also remember that winning should be coupled with values, such as honesty, gratitude, humility and most importantly your character. Character is will and I believe that with will we can achieve anything.

 8 Lessons shared by Ashley

Lesson No 1: Respect

No matter how remarkable a runner you may be when we converse with others we should never have an air. Ashley said that before they start their training in Kenya that they would have a handshake with their fellow runners and would ask each other how are they.

Ashley also shared with us, "Kenyans also have many role models, from regional champions to world champions that they continually respect and look up to. Kids there grow up aspiring to be like them."

Lesson No 2: Self Belief
Believe you can be the best and nothing but the best you can be.

Ashley shared with us that we should always believe that one day we can be the best but to also remain humble no matter how much we achieve. Sometimes when we do not meet our time trial targets or having an injury we should not be downhearted but instead just keep the spirits high and continue with a positive attitude.

When a record holder meets up with a progressing elite runner he would just say, “Do not worry, I believe one day you can be the best too.” Most of the times these world record holders were also once at the bottom and slowly made their way up.

Lesson No 3: Commitment
Giving all our best

Being committed meaning coming down for all training and doing everything which is given to you even if it is going at a pace of 7 minutes per kilometer.

Kenyans are even committed to taking full rest and recovery. They take naps and sleep very seriously, a handful even going the extreme of sleeping more than 10 hours a day in total !”

Lesson No 4: Sacrifices

In the town of Iten where Ashley had trained, it had a total population of only 5,000 people but the amazing thing is 3,000 of them are full time runners. Which means out of every 5 people 3 of them are professional athletes. Most of these runners have no other source of income, their income is solely based on the prize money they win in the races they run internationally. They relinquish their loved ones and family members and spend their time training in a camp with a certain number of months committed for running. As these runners have no other source of income.

Lesson No 5: Humility
No Ego
Running is about growth, there is always room for improvement.

No successful athlete will walk around with thoughts such as “I am a Champion” or “I am the best”. When one walks around with such a pride and ego, you are limiting yourself as you always think you are the best. Only when you are humble you will realise that you still have a lot to learn and many more areas you could improve in to reach greater heights.

Lesson No 6: Integrity

Athletes taking drugs to enhance sporting performance is on an upward trend. Even high profiled Kenyan athletes who are looking for a quick fix start to consume drugs.  As this is illegal when athletes are caught positive for drugs through the doping test they will be banned from taking part in any competition for several years. Taking drugs not only affects you and your loved ones but also your health intensely. Most importantly in tarnishes the name of the country and family.

Lesson No 7: Focus
Being Focused- Sounds simpler, easier said

Starting school 8 am in the morning and finishing at 6pm and also doing my morning and evening run every single day without fail is not easy task. As Ashley has very limited hours to study he makes sure he is really focused and not get distracted by things such as smartphones, Facebook and television. Ashley also strongly believes the number of hours spent studying is important however what’s more crucial the quality of how he spent his time studying.

Lesson No 8: Sportsmanship

During the SEA GAMES held on the 7th of June 2015, Ashley Liew took part in the Men's Marathon Race.

During the race at one point when the runners had to make a U-Turn they ended up going straight but Ashley was the only one who made the right turn. At this point of time Ashley had a 50 Meters lead which may have given him a chance of a podium finish, a dream every runner that takes will have.

At the end of the day, no matter what the results are, the most important thing a sportsman should never lose is the values. 

Next Issue - Flexifitness Athlete Andreas Wenger wins Kona Marathon 2015 in Hawaii.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Effects of Drugs (Part 3)

Helen Gilby and Alan Guilder (Coach)
I dedicate this topic to my former lecturer of the then College of Physical Education, Helen Gilby, who showed me the truth about drugs.She and my coach, later on, by the name of Alan Guilder were instrumental in enabling me to do well in marathon (Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon 1994, 2hr 34min 02sec, and in Chiengmai SEA Games marathon 2hr 24min 22sec, 1995)

What you need to know about drugs to improve sports performance.

An Introduction - Simple writing as opposed to scientific writing.
I will not write this scientifically as it will be difficult for a layman to understand the effects of drugs like anabolic steroids etc. For a detailed knowledge and understanding, I am hoping to write more scientifically so that people are well informed, as they may want to know more.

Effects of drugs - Long term negative health effects and Cheating
When somebody says,"Good job on your performance", and if you have taken drugs to improve, it simply means,"Good job on your cheating". One should be ashamed about oneself rather than being happy about it. 

If one says,"The other runner cheated, so I cheated." This calls for the authorities to make the race as fair as possible by doing random testing, on any athlete when they want to test for drugs. If you are innocent, there is nothing to worry at all. When you are innocent, you can sleep peacefully and smile throughout your life. When you are guilty, your own conscience will prick you. This is my believe.

Usually, people, in the pursuit of excellence, especially when they are young, are very interested to improve on one's sports performance. They overlook the fact of the effects of what the drug can do in the long term, as in the short term they are usually happy going through a period of success, success and more success. 

However, in the mid-term due to the effects of the muscles becoming much stronger, with the tendons and ligaments, not having the corresponding ability to withstand the force of speed generated by the muscular contraction of the runner, especially at the lower limb, one ends up, usually getting permanent injury. 

I have heard of a number of runners who ran fast, in the past, but are no more running now, for performance or even for health currently.  Some I believe that it is due to usual performance injury etc. As for some, one of my friend told me that it could have been due to drugs. 

East Germany and drugs

It was in the East Germany that anabolic steroid drugs and testosterones were used for performance enhancement by the authorities themselves for enhancing their performance in the 1970s Olympics. The authorities wanted to show that their country was very successful in sports to mask the economic problems that were going on in the country. They had huge success, in the world, with the project, especially in the women competitions. The world were looking towards East Germany for sporting success.

However, earlier on athletes in East Germany were, in the name of health supplements, were given anabolic steroids, instead. As it was a communist country, in the past, the authorities kept the project a well guarded secret from the athletes themselves. Documents were, however, written when the effects of drugs were found during the drug taking over time, like sickness, allergies and other side-effects of the drugs. Everything was documented so that the scientist were also trying to find the cure for this, while the training was going on smooth. 

Parents were not able to see their children, after talent identification and selection process done by the authorities. 

A number of gold medals and world records were broken by the then East Germany. At that time, the authorities ensured that 2 weeks before the major competition, all traces of steroid drug was cleared in the body and the cellular level, so the with the drug testing nothing can be found to label the country a cheat. There was unfair advantage going on with the usage of drugs. Women became more muscular and stronger.

When East Germany and West Germany merged, with the destroying of the man-made Berlin Wall, the truth that was documented in Liepzig, East Germany, was revealed. That is why, even now, when one comes from East Germany, some people are uncomfortable to take them as coaches, as their training methods have involved the banned substance steroid. 

Drugs usage in sports, although has been used in the west also, as in the east, was more prevalent in the Eastern bloc countries of the past. 

Effects of Drugs

From the records of the athletes, negative effects were found in Germany. 

Drowning in the pool - In The Then East Germany
As a 16 year old swimmer was swimming in the pool, after having a lot of improvement in swimming speed the teenager was not able to take the demand of the training that was going on and he just was found dead in the pool. The authorities, just for the sake of continuing the project, did not tell the truth to the public that it was because of intensive use of steroid. The central system of the swimmer, involving the heart, was not able to take the punishment of the training. 

Hair Growth - Female to Male
Girls were found to have hair grown and the face started to change. A women literally began to look and behaviour like a man, having male voice and features. In an interview, she said that it was very hard for her to go to supermarket etc as people called her homosexual etc. Because of this the athlete could not mix with the society and lived like a recluse. She ultimately married a fellow female athlete in the East Germany team.   The reason for this can be traced to the hormonal imbalance caused by the banned substance anabolic steroid.

Men have the hormone called testosterone which makes man manly. As for female, naturally, the hormone called estrogen is produced to make them feminine, by gestures, voice, body shape etc. Due to the imbalance caused by the steroid, men are found to have breast later on, with other female characteristics coming in along the way.  A female starting to look like a male takes place over a long period of time, due to intense taking of drugs. 

East German parents who saw their daughters doing well in the sports, after some years, found that their child having hoarse voice, and were found to have male characteristics like aggressive behaviour bodily hair and so on. 

There are several cause for balding. Some is old age and some is due to genetics and other factors as well. It is however shown by scientific evidence that too much taking of drugs will lead one to balding. This has been documented in several studies.

High Density Lipo-protein fats are known to be good fats. It helps in lowering bad fats, called Low Density Lipo - protein in our body. By doing sports, studies show that HDL fats will increase over time. However, due to drugs intake, one may lowered HDL fats in the body due to steroid or banned substance intake. I have heard of people dying from lever dyfunction. 

A friend that I met a few years ago told me that he took drugs to improve performance. Now, after hearing from a doctor he has fatty lever. My friend is all the time worried what is going to happen next. He told me that he was so foolish to take drug when he was young. He told me that he was rash to make the decision and he is regretful of his mistake. He is now worried about his loved ones - his son and his wife. 

Attitudinal changes
Female who took drugs in the then East Germany saw themselves to have aggressive behaviour in themselves. There were mood swing etc from drug taking. They also suffered from depression.

In the long term, one will age earlier. Hence, that means that the people that ingest the banned substances like drugs etc will be weaker earlier on in life.  

The the above-mentioned effects are some of the negative results of taking banned substance like anabolic steroid etc. Just for a short period of glory, a young athlete is attracted to improve one's performance to a greater extent. It is in the hope that one knows about the effects of drugs that one think about themselves and family and choose the righteous path to do well in sports.

Paula Radcliffe, the world record holder of marathon, currently, have written in her book that every athlete should go for drug testing, in order to bring fairness and to stop doping practices. I support Paula in this quest as she wants to press on on this believe that athletes should not run with banned substance, steroid, testosterone etc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Drugs and Cheating (Part 2)

Fall From Grace - Ben Johnson

In the past, my friend told me after the 1988 Seoul Olympic's 100m race that Carl Lewis was a sore loser for coming second to Ben Johnson. Ben Johnson won Carl Lewis. However, after failing the doping test, Ben Johnson was disqualified and he fell from grace. It was a big fall for him. The world will remember this for a long, long time. I think that it was a humiliation to him and the family, as a whole.

It was also not fair to other competitors that he had competed against. A few years back, this thing happened again when Lance Armstrong, a multiple Tour de France winner, who was denying about drug taking, finally admitted to taking it. Armstrong had a huge gathering of fans globally, and he lost all of them by his foolish act, which he thought will remain hidden.

In Rocky 4 movie, we could see the Russian boxer taking drugs, after training hard, having good nutrition, having sports physiological support etc. The last thing before the boxer fought the match with Rocky Balboa was to get an injection, steroid, for unfair advantage. This is nothing but a show of no sportsmanship.

Similar kinds of injection needles were found in Alberto Salazar's house. We were his fans, in the past, admiring his running feats, especially in New York City Marathon races. He was floating when he was running and winning the race. 

Seventeen accusations from different individuals were reported against Alberto Salazar. The fact is that these are individuals who spoke against were earlier on taking him as a hero. 

I believe that if a person who want to win by using banned substance etc, it is wise that they give up sports, as they may affect their health in the long run and it is not good for them. They are poor role models for our youth to follow. Random testing is important to be given by the authorities so that performance enhancing drug taking do not become rampant. It bring chaos to a society.

Before one take drugs, it is important to think about oneself and the family, especially not to defame the family.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Drugs in Sports and Sportsmanship

By Rameshon

In the past, I know Alberto Salazar as a model runner for many. He won a number of championships in the marathon races. My friend, Ow Kok Meng, used to praise about Salazar's feats and we were inspired when we were young, running for our school Saint Joseph's Institution.  

Salazar, a Cuban, to my understanding, has won a number of New York City Marathon races in the early 1980s. Salazar also won the 1982 Boston Marathon race in the Men Open category.

I was appalled to hear that Alberto Salazar, who is currently the head coach of the Nike Oregon Project in Oregon, Portland, has been named for doping allegations, jointly by BB Panaroma and ProPublica.

After Lance Armstrong's admission to drug taking, this may become a serious blow to sports if Alberto Salazar is proven guilty of taking unfair advantage by using doping in sports.

Recently, I have already heard a number of athletes being caught for doping charges,and have been proven guilty of wrongdoing, by taking unfair advantage in sports to win. This is embarassing in sports. There is an Tamil proverb that does say something about cheats. " A cheat can keep cheating for a number of days, but one day, he/she will sure get caught."


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

77 Flexifitness Athletes Will be taking Part in POSB 10km Run 2015

By Rameshon

In the past, we were not able to register more than 50 runners in taking part in the POSB 10KM Run, a race which is organised for charity, on a yearly basis. As for this year, Flexifitness athletes have decided to race in this event, even though there are no team event for the race. We have already 77 who have registered for this event. Last year, Flexifitness clinched both first and second position in the team event. 

We hope that many, outside of Flexifitness, would take part in the event and raise funds for the less fortunate ones, by running in this race. 

SEA Games 2015 Marathon

Go Ashley Go

Apart from that, we have our Flexifitness athlete Ashley Liew who is going to run in the SEA Games 42.195km race. Soh Rui Yong, another Singapore runner, will also be running in the race as well for the men open, alongside Ashley. The race will start off at 6am, for both men open and for women open. If you are at Kallang Stadium, you can see the start of the race. If you are at East Coast, at car park B1, you could see the race. There will be 5 loops to be run during the race. There will be more action at Car Par B1 to BBQ pit C24.

We hope that many athletes will come forward to support our Singapore runners, both men and women. We hope to see you this Sunday, June 7. Please come with your family, especially at car park B1 area to around Big Splash area to support. More than 50% of the race route will be at the East Coast area.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ashley Liew - Road to South East Asian Games, still intact.

By Saranniya

Picture 1 - (Left to Right) Lim Thow Wee and Ashley Liew - The Team Flexifitness' fastest two marathon runners. 

Today, we were looking forward to hear the news of Mr Lim Thow Wee's Seoul Marathon race results. In the race, I found out that another good runner, from Singapore, by the name of Dr Derek Li running in the race too. It is impressive that both of them are professionals and are doing full time job and they have trained very hard for the race. Dr Derek Li has done a 2hr 42min marathon best while Mr Lim Thow Wee has a 2hr 48min 49sec personal best in Paris Marathon 2014 race.

While Coach Rameshon, and the rest of Flexifitness athletes (including Ashley Liew) were waiting an hour ago for the race results, Mr Lim Thow Wee finally messaged us telling us that he ran and stopped at the 30km mark and walked back the rest of the way and completed the 42.195km race in 3hr 30min, while Dr Derek Li did a time of 2hr 50min. We are awaiting the official results. 

Mr Lim Thow Wee has messaged us that the air was very dry and was hard to breathe, especially when taking some deep breaths during the run. He found difficulty in breathing. Seeing safety as a reason to stop the race was a wise choice for Coach Rameshon. Mr Lim Thow Wee has told us that he will elaborate on stopping of the race and his renewed aim of returning strong for the future marathon race soon will be answered in our running blog,

According to SAA, it was mentioned that anyone who does better than the two runners - Soh Rui Yong and Ashley Liew - they will get themselves selected. Only two will represent Singapore for the coming SEA Games 2015. The deadline for this is 28/29th of March 2015. Coach Rameshon revealed this to me.

"Both Rui Yong and Ashley Liew are medal potentials", Coach Rameshon said on the coming SEA Games race 2015. With the Seoul Marathon race over, Ashley's road to SEA Games in Singapore looks intact. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Andreas Wenger - An Interview of 2hr 51min 28sec in Tokyo Marathon With 5months Training.

By Saranniya 26 Feb 2015 Report
Picture 1 – Andreas, on top of the world to find that he has done a phenomenal time.
From our running group, besides Andreas Wenger, who did exceptionally well, we also have Jennifer Quek (3hr 42min 19sec), Kenneth Lim (4hr 11min 20sec) and Desmond Soh (3hr 36min 30sec)  who have done well for the recently held Tokyo Marathon 2015.
Picture 2 – Jennifer Quek, has been improving her time from 3hr 48min (Berlin Marathon 2013) to 3hr 45min (Osaka Marathon 2014) to 3hr 42min 19sec (Tokyo Marathon 2015)
My intention today is to talk about Coach Rameshon’s coaching of Andreas, who is the fastest in our group to improve at a tremendous rate in such a short span of 5 months. 
In the past, Coach Rameshon has developed a number of runners who could do a sub – 3hr marathon. Marcel Sng will write on the past runners that Coach Rameshon has assisted to do a sub-3hr. In Tokyo Marathon 2015, Andreas did a time of 2hr 51min. In the past, Andreas has not done a sub-3hours in the marathon. He decided to train with Coach Rameshon, after some encourgement coming from Mr Lim Thow Wee to join the Flexifitness running programme.
As an Ultramarathon runner, Andreas was willing to do some sacrifices and do what is important to running a fast marathon. Andreas was swift enough to follow the training principles and concepts that was  given during training by Coach Rameshon and he finally, not only did a sub-3hrs, but also amazed many by doing the phenomenal 2hr 51min 38sec, which I believe is a big personal best time.
From a time of 31min 42sec in 8km, over a period of time, Andreas slashed the time to end in 28min 32sec. This was done in a span of 4 1/2 months.
I have put up an interview that I have given to Andreas so that runners are motivated to improve in running.
 An Interview With Andreas Wenger
 What was your target for this race?
The goal was to run below 3hr.
Are you happy with your timing?
In general I would have been happy with every time when I see the 2hr in front. So the time of 2hr 51m 39s was much better than I expected and I am super happy.
What was your previous personal best and when did you accomplish that?
My previous PB was about 3h 07min run at the Chicago Marathon in 2009.
How was the organisation of the race?
The general organisation was very good. All went smooth from the number collection until the end of the race. The only thing I was not happy about was the grouping in the starting blocks. I had to start in block D and so I had many slower runner in front of me. This made it a bit difficult for the first 1-2km. All the rest was great.
 Hydration Stations?
There are many hydration stations and the stations are also quite long. The runners don’t push to get to the drink station as they are long. So this is very well done.
 Distance markers? Were they accurate?
There was a distance marker every km. I appreciated it towards the end as I exactly knew the distance to the finish line. As the GPS is not 100% accurate I trusted the distance markers and so I believe they were accurate.
How was the race route? (Any part too hilly?)
The route was very good to achieve a good timing. It had only some small climbs (bridges) in between so most of the course was flat.
 What were the challenges you face during the race both mentally and physically?
I planned to run around 4:05min/km at the beginning as I expected to slow down in the second half. As it was cold and packed at the start it was not so easy to find the right rhythm. Than around 25km I slowed down a bit as my stomach didn’t feel so well. My colleague took the lead and pushed me so I could keep up the pace. After a few km I felt ok again. It was very helpful to have a friend there to push and support. I think it really helps if you can run a race together with a friend and push and support each other.
Then at the last 5km the legs start to hurt and I was afraid to get cramps. I only thought to run through without stopping and finish as soon as possible. At the end was more the motto – No Pain No Gain.
Despite all these difficulties what kept you going till the end?
At the end I thought about the time and training I invested and about all the people that supported me on that journey. So I also wanted to make them proud and I think that was a key driver at the end.
 What is your next target?
I want to find out if I can finish a 100mile race and the planned race would be Mt Fuji 100Mile run. I think Japan brings me luck.
For my marathon training I still want to improve my 8km,10km,… timings and maybe try a 21km race in Singapore. In general Singapore is too hot for a full marathon but for a half marathon it should be possible to achieve a good timing.
How did Flexifitness helped you on that journey?
I think without joining the group I could not have achieved such an improvement. I always look forward to the trainings on Tuesday not only because of the running but also to meet the people. It is great fun to run with older and younger runners and to push each other. I am really happy that I joined Flexifitness. Thank you for all the support.