Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Health and Fitness - How to improve the pull up score?

How to improve your Pull Up score?

My Experience

I remember doing my own 11 pull ups when I was about 22 years old. At that time, my weight was about 55kg then. Doing the weights in sets, like 5pull ups x 3, done with 3min rest in between, I was able to 13 over 2-3months time.

However, over time, I increased my weight to 73kg in 2005. I was not even able to do even one pull up. Then, having a long term weight reduction programme while training for my marathon race, I was able to reduce my weight to 60kg and do 7 pull ups.

Colin Ng's Experience

Over time, I met Colin Ng, a J1 Hwa Chong student, in Mar 2009 when I was teaching his class soccer. During pull up practise, I found that Colin not even able to do any pull ups. From zero pull up score, it is remarkable that he is able to do 7. This, he did it in last week's pull up test of the 5 item NAPFA Test.

Let us look at Colin's Story on how he was able to achieve this. I also believe that the commitment, drive to do well, determination and willpower have pushed this young gentleman to come out of failure in NAPFA Test.

An interview with Colin Ng, a second year college student from Hwa Chong.
In JC One, when were you doing zero for pull up for a start?

Last year March. I just couldn't do a single proper pull up.

Inorder to help in pull up score, did you do other things to improve?

I did a hand exercise by stretching out my hand and repeatedly opening and closing my fist (do 200 - 400 times). Every time I run on alternate days. However, before I could actually start doing pull-up practice in sets, there was no visible improvement - it could have trained other muscles not used in pull-up.

Tell me how did you improve  your score from zero to 7. Did you do intervals etc. explain in detail?

Actually, I did 3 for last year, but because I didn't practice over the holidays and term 3/4 I could hardly do one at the start of this year.

I just practiced in sets. I started from 5 sets of 1, then increase to 5 sets of 2, 5 sets of 3....

How many months did you take to do this?

About 2 months.

When you achieved 7 for pull up , how did you feel?

I feel very happy. At present, this is the first time I can do so many pull ups. I also felt relieved that I wouldn't be having to re-take the test and go through a lot more trouble.

What is your advice to those who want to improve the pull up score for Napfa Test?

Just keep training, even if you can do one, do it in sets. Doing one alone is not enough, but doing one at a time (i.e. 5 X 1) over time will help.

The same advise you gave me I will give it to others - lose weight first.

Do you have any advice to those overweight people who has zero score for pull up?

Try a variety of exercise to try to reduce weight - sticking to the same exercise can be boring and not so helpful.

I lost the most weight in sec 3 when I walked for about 1-2 hours at the Tree Top Walk almost everyday during the holidays.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sports Participation Trends

This page is dedicated to my wife, Sumathy, who inspired me to finish my Masters in Education (University of Western Australia) in May 2008 and also for giving me support to come in as the local champion in the Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon (2008, Dec) champion for Men Open at the age of 43.

Chapter One                               - Abstract (done)
Chapter Two                              -  Introduction (not yet)
Chapter Five                               - Conclusion (not yet)
Lesson for us from the Research - (not yet)

Sports Participation Trends in One of the Junior colleges (JCs) in the Central District of Singapore. A Thesis Submitted as Requirements for the Masters in Education


The purpose of the study was to identify the sports participatiion trends in one of the Junior Colleges (JCs) in the central district of Singapore. The study was focused on year 2 students by finding out the reasons for their participation and non-participation in sports and offer solutions to improve the sports participation level. Also, the extent of participationof students in various sports and physical activities was determined. Since adolescence is a critical period for teenagers to decide whether to take up or drop out of sports, the role played by the family and school in influencing sports participation as well as students participate in out-of-school sport were examined.

Another reason for undertaking the study was to find out whether developing out-of-school sport would be helpful. Also, how the role of school and family facilitate in enhancing students' sports participation was looked at. It was also hoped that the findings of the present study could be used as a basis to assist in the modification of school sports structure. Survey consisting of 25 questions each was given to participants and non-participants of sports. Participants of the survey consisted of 50 boys and 50 girls between 17 and 18.

Finally, the author would like to make recommendations for early intervention strategies to enable students to achieve increased participation level in sports. The findings of the research showed that 88% of the year 2 college students were actively involved in sports at least once a week.

Comparison of %HR Between Trained and Untrained Runners in 1,500m

This article is in dedication to the late Dave Williams, who was my Lecturer and Supervisor during my research days in Loughbrough University. The  research project  was a requirement for my Degree of Bachelor of Physical Education and Sports Science. Dave Williams, an avid triathlete, was found to be the best lecturer  who can apply Physiology in practical terms. He was able to give me an insight into termo-regulation and lactate threshold. Hence, I attribute some of my coaching success to him.

I also would like to thank my friends Justin Fernandez and Benjamin Kwok in giving me feedback about this research.

A Dissertation Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Physical Education and Sports Science. 

Loughborough University of Technology    Apr, 1994


The purpose of this study was to make comparisons between trained male runners, who are club athletes, and untrained male and female individuals to see whether there are significant differences in %HR max during subsequent stages and at the finish of a 1,500m performance run. Twenty-nine subjects (21male, 8 female) participated in this study. Thirteen of them were trained individuals, consisting of club athletes, and the other sixteen were untrained counterparts. Twenty-four subjects were able to complete both 1,500m performance run on the track as well as on the treadmill. Field and labratory measurements were made for oxygen consumption and heart rate during 1,500m treadmill run and VO2 max test. During the 1,500m treadmill run, there were no significant differences between the trained and the untrained in their %HR max and %VO2 utilised. However, significant differences (p<0.01) were found between the trained and untrained individuals in time of the performance run by the trained male and untrained male individuals were significantly faster (p<0.01) than the untrained female subjects. Although, the trained runners were running faster than their untrained counterparts,the data from this study suggests that a 1,500m run imposed a cardio-respiratory stress which was similar when the athletes and non-athletes were compared.

At every stage of the run, it was found that %HR was always higher than %VO2 utilised. Furthermore, at all running speeds above 90% VO2 max, the faster runners were able to consume more oxygen of their absolute VO2 max value as compared to the untrained groups. There was also a negative correlation betwen VO2 max (ml/kg/min) and performance time in the 1.5km race was r= 0.934. However, the relationship between HRmax and 1500m performance time showed poor correlations.

The findings suggest that there were no significant differences between the trained and the untrained individuals in percentage HR max during a 1,500m performance run. This relationship holds regardless of sex or whether the individual is trained or untrained. Furthermore, this study revealed that successful distance running is dependent on a highly developed aerobic capacity and the ability to employ a large fraction of that capacity.

Key Words : Trained male runners versus untrained female and male individuals, VO2 max, %HRmax and 1500m run.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Marathon National Record (Women) - Yvonne Danson - 2hrs 34min 41sec (1995, Chiengmai, SEA Games)

In my early 20s, I met Yvonne Margaret Danson as an aspiring long distance runner who was aiming to come in as a top runner in Singapore. She was born on  22 May 1959, in London, United Kingdom. Her height was 4 feet and 11inches. Her weight was 38kg. People called her as Yvonne. I used to see her running at MacRitchie Reservoir often. Sometimes I used to see her running with Mr 25 Club runners for long runs.

She had a passionate running coach who was coaching her from England. Yvonne's training was all based in Singapore. Her communication was usually on phone with the coach. She did not say much about the coach to me but from the communication I had with her, I realised that the coach is a very knowledgeable person. Both Yvonne and I used to share knowledge on running. We even discuss on strength training.

Being an English citizen, she represented England at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada,  and to everyone's amazement she won a bronze medal in the women's marathon with a time of 2hr 32min 24s. First and second placing was won by Carole Rouillard and Lizanne Bussieres with a time of 2hr 30min 41sec and 2hr 31min 07sec, respectively. Both of the top 2 runners were from Canada.

To analyse the race, she was in fact 1min 43sec away from the Commonwealth Games gold medal timing. On that year, the men's marathon race was won by Steve Moneghetti of Australia with a time of 2hr 11min 49sec.

After the 1994 Commonwealth Games, Yvonne, married to Tan Choon Ghee, a former National Record holder with a time of 2hr 34min. Within a year, she took up Singapore citizenship in order to represent Singapore in international competitions. Her training ground for SEA Games were also based in Singapore. I was given the GLOW grant to train. However, to train with my coach Alan Guilder in England was not given green light by SAAA. Kerry Hill, the then Technical Director of SAAA was working very hard in this but it was to no avail. I believed that if I had been trained under Alan Guilder in England, I may have had the chance of getting gold medal in Chiengmai. My hopes of training with Alan Guilder was dashed and I had to train in Singapore eventually.

Over in Singapore, I had problems finding a venue for doing my strength programmes. Yvonne invited me to the United World College Gym to do strength circuits there. I was appreciative of her help in this matter. She also joined me in the strength training program. Her husband Tan Choon Ghee also joined us.

Sometimes she used to join me in tempo runs once a week. She even brought some people to join in the tempo runs. One such person that she brought along was Helmar Aslaksan, a runner who had 31m 01sec personal best. As for other days Yvonne used to follow her coach's programme.

During the first two months of Jan and Feb, rarely I took part in any race, except the Cheingmai pre-SEA Games race trial where I did 2hr 29min and became the first qualifier for the SEA Games. Around end of March, I ran in a 10km race in Singapore with the Malaysian Junior best Ramesh in the race. I did 32min 22sec and Yvonne did 33min 46sec. Although she came in first for the race, she was disappointed with the time. She told me that she re-measured the course and found that the race route was 10.2km. I was not bothered about this. All I knew was that I have finally defeated Ramesh from Malaysia, who did 32min 52sec on that day and came in second for men open. Ramesh had been having a successful streak of success and was undefeated by any Singaporeans at that time. Even Ramachandran, the former record holder told that Ramesh from Malaysia was dominating the Singapore long distance running scene.

Over time, at the 1995 Southeast Asian Games in Chiang Mai, Thailand, Yvonne was the clear favourite to win the gold medal in the marathon event. However, the thought that she had to run the 10km few days later bothered her. During lunch and tea time in Thailand, she used to talk to me about this. She wanted not to run the 10km track race in the SEA Games. However,  her repeated request of not running the 10km race went in vain. She was mentally troubled and told me that she received several letters from well wishes not to run in two events. Hence, I was already feeling that this is going to affect her. I gave her a listening ear when she complained but I tried talking her out of this and told her to focus on her race.

During her SEA games marathon race, her competitor by the name of Ruwiyati of Indonesia ran neck to neck all the way throughout the race. Yvonne entered the stadium in first place while Ruwiyati was around few metres away. In the race, however, Yvonne mistakenly believed that she had to complete one lap of the stadium in order to finish the race. Hence, she stopped after the first lap run. In actual fact she was required to complete two laps. By the time she realised this and started running again, Ruwiyati of Indonesia was already breaking away from Yvonne. Ruwiyati finally crossed the finish line in first place to claim the gold medal. Ruwiyati was known for her courage in coming first and she was indeed shorter than Yvonne herself. Both did commendable times for the race.

Yvonne's time of 2 hr, 34 min and 41 sec done in the 1995 SEA Games still remains the Singapore national record. She also set a Singapore national record of 36 minutes 27.39 seconds in the 10,000 metres at Chiang Mai to win the bronze medal. Yvonne also holds the Singapore national record for the 5,000 metres, having run the distance in 17 minutes 35.3 seconds in Singapore in 1997.

At Chiengmai, Yvonne and I were told that we were the only ones in Singapore to qualify in the Olympics. We were happy about this. However, for the men section, they chose Wong Yew Tong to me as he got gold in the high Jump, even though he did not qualify for the Olympics Games. Yvonne represented Singapore at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and did well by finishing in 38th place in a field of 86 runners. She used to talk to me that she was always hoping that I would run in the Olympics. As for Wong Yew Tong, he failed to clear the starting 2.10m jump thrice at Atlanta.
Later on, Yvonne and I were in Japan to run the Sendai Half marathon in 1996. I did not run for a month, about 4 weeks and did a time of 1hr 12min. I was at that time telling myself to tone down serious running and focus on career and come back at the age of forty. Until then, I kept myself fit throughout the years. I was coaching Catholic High School. Yvonne, on the other hand, left for Greenland and settled there.

As I have known Yvonne Danson, she has been a very helpful person to me. She was  trying to make me to continue serious running when I was about to tone down my training. She motivated me alot in running. Hence, I do have great appreciation and gratitude towards this great person.

Friday, April 23, 2010

An Interview with Local Champion Anne Date, Winner of Standard Chartered Marathon 2009

In the year 2007, Daniel Ling came in 1st position and I came in first runner up in the Men Open (local category) in the Standard Chartered Marathon. While Daniel was selected to run the GREATEST RACE on EARTH Race marathon in Singapore, I was selected to go for Asian Marathon Championships 2008 in Hong Kong, Feb, where Anne Date did a personal best time of 3hr 00min plus. On that year, she took part in the Berlin International Marathon 2008 and did an exceptional personal best time of 2hr 50min, Her first 10km was close to 37min. It was here that Dr Ben Tan, Dr Benny Goh, Anne Date, Daniel Ling and myself met for dinner after the Berlin Marathon 2008 race. Anne Date is married and has been showing great interest in running.

Standard Chartered Marathon (42.195km) Results for Local Women Open.

          Name                             Timing
  1. Qi Hui, Anne Date          3hr 15m 28s
  2. Elaine Lim                      3hr 23m 03sc
  3. Aileen Tan Ling Wan      3hr 29m 24s
  4. Yong Lai Chee               3hr 40m 15s
  5. Stella Tay Hwee Choo    3hr 40m 21s
  6. Angie Tan                      3hr 43m 35s
  7. Quek Xiu Ling               3hr 47m 56s
 Person Best of Anne Date.

800m--------2'25" (when i was 12 years old)

1500m-------5'15" (when i was 12 yeards old)

5000m-------18' plus(2009)

10km---------36'52" (2009)


 Interview Questions posed to Anne Date
1.Do you like running?


2. What are you doing now as a career?

Co-owner @RealFitness

3.I have heard that you are playing for the hockey national team, what made you to choose marathon as your passion at the same time?

I have always been a BIG fan of Running, I love any distance from 100m to marathon,I started running before i play hockey 20 years ago and now i am back to running again :) even when i was in the National hockey i am quite famous as good in running,

4.What will you be choosing as your main sport in the long run?
10k, 21k and the marathon. 

 5. Are you able to cope your passion in running and your career?
I am trying quite hard to keep up with work, hockey and running as well as my personal life, because all of them are VERY IMPORTANT to me, so my life is all about work, sports and family now. I  hardly have much FREE time. Nevertheless,and i am happy with it.

6. How were you able to do 2hr 50min in such a short span. Can you describe more on this, please?

Self Believe, Focus , and Persistence - B.F.P.

7. In the past, you were, on the plum side, how were you able to reduce your weight?
Any advice to people on special diet?

Eat Real Food, no JUNK food, Eat fresh, and Balanced diet.

8. How long it took to reduce to what I am seeing in you now?

Its come from EVERYDAY 's discipline, I can't remember since when I start  changing, but how you look actually comes from how you live.

 9.What made you to change yourself from a non-vegetarian to vegetarian?

Knowledge :)

10.Are you taking any supplements as you are a vegan now?


 11.What is your future plan in marathon?
It is not my plan, its my dream, I want to show to myself that what I have believed was right. I want to reduce my finishing time and run as much of marathons as possible, especially under 3hours and under 2:50.

 12. Are you running in the Sundown Marathon? If yes, which event are you running?---
Yes, 84km run.

13. Will you be running in the Standard Chartered Marathon?


14. What advice do you have for people who wants to take up marathon?

Believe yourself that can you do it first of all. You should also train for it, It would be advisable to get a coach or training partners.  You should know whether you are prepared for marathon and whether you are ready to run 42km or not with the  preparations.  One should build confidence by knowing the sport.

 15. What advice do you have for students who want to study and run at the same time?
YOU WILL RUN IF YOU REALLY REALLY LOVE RUNNING :) Running actually sharpens ones mind so you will study better after the running. A good princple is to have good time manegment.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Latest News: Interview with Dr Benny Goh - Boston Marathon 2hr 50min

Boston Marathon 2010, Dr Benny achieved new heights as one of the two doctors to do sub 3hrs in Singapore. The other is Dr Benedict Tan. I had an exclusive interview with Dr Benny. I hope that we can draw inspiration from him.

Interviewer: Could you tell me something about Boston Marathon?
It was on 19th April, Patriots' Day. Start Point Hopkinton town and ending in Boston along Boylyston Road.

What made you to break the ultramarathon record during the Sundown marathon?

Time and pace discipline was the recipe for the success.

Which year was it.?


How many sub 3hrs marathon have you done?

This is the 3rd one.

What was the date of the marathon?

  1. Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon 2009
  2. Singapore Marathon 2009 - 3rd Position in the Local Men Open 
  3. Boston Marathon 2010

What made you to sign up for the marathon?

I am aiming to complete the 5 major marathons, namely, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York

I am 2 down with Berlin 2008 and Boston 2010 in my bag.

How do you find Boston and the people?

The marathon atmosphere here was awesome. Sad to say, Singapore is far far away from the standard here. The whole city and the towns were all celebrating the marathon Monday. Everybody was out on the streets cheering. Every stretch of the route was filled with spectators. There was no sense of emptiness at all. People along the streets would congratulate you after the race!

What was the target that you were aiming for?

I was aim for 2.50. I did not dare to aim anything faster as the the course was very hilly and I did not feel as well prepared as previous races.

How did you feel when you achieve 2hrs 50sec?

Great! My belief of pacing and not allowing runners around you affect your pace is true if you are out to achieve a target time. Just let others go past! Try to stick to your race plan!

How did you cope with your job as a dentist and training?

Time was always the biggest obstacle. I need to find time for all the daily 12-16k runs and long distance runs on weekends. I usually run at 5 am before starting work so that I will get the runs out of my schedule.

Can you briefly tell me how the 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km, 25km , 30km , 35km and the last few km went?

I had about 1.30min buffer for the first 30k. but subsequently, I had to stick to about 6.30min per mile pace because the hills were taking toll on my quads.

What advice do you have to people who are aspiring to train for marathon?

Firstly one need to overcome the fear of doing marathon. Every fit body should be able to complete it comfortably if there is proper training. Neverthelss, there will always sacrifices to be make because time have to spend training. Try to train during times when it will not take time away from work and family. Stick to the training plan as closely as possible. Maybe you may need to loss some sleep:) Most importantly, listen to your body. Never train with sickness and injury.

What is your next target?

I have the Sundown Ultra to handle in May. I am also looking into the new Stand Chart Marathon 2010 and New York Marathon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

HCI (College) Sch Mid n Long Distance Records as at 14th Apr 2010

HCI (College) Championship Records (as at 14th APr 2010)

A Division Boys

Event           Name                   Time       Year                 
800m           Chan Boon Hui     2:06         2005
1500m          Jeffrey Ng            4:24         2005
3000m stpl   Jeffrey Ng            10:13        2006
5000m          Jeffrey Ng            16:40       2006

A Division Girls

Events     Name                       Timing     Year

800m       Pamela Chia             2:24.12     2003
1500m     Cheong Tsui Fong   5.00.88     1991
3000m     Pamela Chia             10:56.31   2002        

HCI(College) School Records (as at 14 Apr 2010)

A Division Boys

Events             Name                            Timing    Year

800m              Tan Chin Mian               2: 02.46   2005
1500m             Jeffrey Ng Zhao Hong   4: 17.82   2005
3000m Stpch   Jeffrey Ng Zhao Hong   10:13.00  2006
5000m             Jeffrey Ng Zhao Hong   16:40.97  2006

A Division Girls

Event         Name                                  Time      Year
800m         Pamela Chia                        2:24.12   2003
1500m       Pamela Chia                        4:57.42   2003
3000m       Pamela Chia                        10:56.31 2002

Saturday, April 17, 2010

C Division - M. Maran, Lian Ruimin and Xu Yao Zhi and Chen Fuchun,Lin Xiao Kang

18/ 04/2010

Today I will be doing 4 sets of conditioning exercises (strength). I realised that I am able to keep doing this form of exercise as I am getting fitter now.

I am also trying to finish the Roll of Honour for C Div before going on to B Div ones. The good thing yesterday was I was able to update and complete my writing on George Gandy and my coach Alan Guilder.

Anyway, today, my topic on the Roll of Honour of the Nat Sch Cross Country will cover on M. Maran, the Assumption Sec athlete. Special mention will be given when I discuss on his achievements as a B Division champion etc and his steeplechase timing of 9min 13sec held in Kuala Lumpur Asian Track and Field meet. M. Maran nearly broke the 1500m national Record of Serjit Singh in the early 1990s as a youngster. He missed the time by just a whisker of 1sec. Anyway, his record in steeplechase has been around for nearly two decades. After covering I will discuss on Lian Ruimin and I will also cover on Xu Yaozhi, one of the Chines High Boy who ran and made Chinese High proud. I will be discussion on Chen Fuchun before I mention about one great runner Lin Xiao Kang was.

Today, if I have the time, I will also try to write on some of the most memorable races where I had to challenge the top athletes of Singapore who are right now the under 20 and Men Open nat record holders still.

It was good that Jeffrey responded to my questions.

An Interview with Jeffrey Ng from Hwa Chong Institution

Jeffrey Ng Z - Greatest (Male) Contributor to the Hwa Chong Institution Middle and Long Distance Events 2001-2006.

The other counterpart for Greatest Female Contributor to the Hwa Institution Middle and Long Distance Events is Pamela Chia.

Jeffrey Ng - Genetically Endowed Athlete

As I know Jeffrey, he is one of the humble person I have come across. He does not boast about his achievement to anyone and does not put down anyone. He was valiant
and versatile  athlete in middle as well as long distance events. I shall write about this gentleman because of his achievements in running as well as in studies. In 2007, Jeffrey and another female sports figure were featured in the Chinese Newspaper, straightaway, a day after the release of the GCE 'A' Levels.

Over time, I shall be writing a story on him so as to inspire the young to aspire and grow. My experiences with him was one of the most memorable in my coaching years.

How did you feel when you were featured in the Chinese Newspaper as one of the two excellent students to be able to balance studies well as a Hwa Chong Inst athlete?

It was as much my honour as those who have helped me along the way – people like my coach, Mr Rameshon, my team-mates who went through all the training with me in rain or shine, my family who’s always there to support me, and my classmates who always offered to help whenever I don’t understand what’s going on in lectures. I was happy that the Chinese Newspaper did an article on us because it would help students and parents understand that tough and demanding sports training (like Track and Field and Taekwondo) do not necessarily hamper academic excellence.

How did your parents feel about this upon being featured?

They were proud that I did well. I didn’t ask them how they feel actually. But I guess it must be quite gratifying to see your son do well in the things he likes to do. They are always happy that I am pursuing something I am passionate about. To see me being featured, it was a form of recognition for me and my family, but that is just a bonus.

Which was your best race ever, the memorable one?

Of all my races, I think the one that I will always remember is my secondary 3 National Cross Country race at Sentosa. It is memorable for many reasons. Firstly, it’s the one and only time National Cross Country was held at Sentosa. Besides, because the route actually contains a 2km stretch of sand, we had gruelling training sessions on Siloso Beach and Palawan Beach and these training sessions made the entire cross country season all the more memorable. The race itself was the epitomy of mental and physical torture. Being a sec 3 against sec 4 athletes from other schools, I was not a clear favourite for the race. But I didn’t expect RI athletes to be that strong so when I saw 6 of them going out hard and fast immediately after the horn, I was shocked. That threw me off for a while. That was when I needed to stay focus on what I had to do, instead of what others were doing. So that’s the first mental challenge. The next challenge was physical as well as mental as the front pack, including myself, hit the sand. I had never raced with such a strong and big front pack. I remember it was at least 6 or 7 of us. And we were all next to each other. But as we endured the lactate buildup due to the sandy stretch, the number dwindled and by the time we exited Siloso Beach, there were only two of us left – Ee Ghim and I. At that point, I was no longer thinking. My mind was totally focused on one thought – stick with him. So I stuck with that thought all the way. At about 1km away, there was a small fork in the route. And Ee Ghim chose the shorter end – it wasn’t cheating – but I chose to stick with the original route. But I didn’t let him get off with it. At that last part of the race, none of us made the move and we were still neck to neck. But as we came into the carpark (which was maybe 100m from the corner before the end point), I started to let him slip away. For a while I was contented with getting the silver medal. But then when I rounded the corner, he still hadn’t crossed the line and was within reach. So I took the chance and pounced. And with that slightest of margin, I clinched the championship. Looking back, it’s not so much because I won that it was memorable. It was the entire race, from the start to the end. It was the fact that I had to summon every ounce of mental and physical strength in me just to keep me going and to keep myself in the fight. It was this race that taught me the crucial ingredient for success – physical and more importantly, mental strength and preparation. This was what made it memorable.

Which race do you consider the toughest?

Races are never easy. All were tough in their own rights. When the field was strong and I was racing against faster people, it was more physical toughness than mental toughness. But when the field was weak and I was the clear favourite, I did not have it easy either because there would be this nagging fear in me that something would go wrong and I would lose the race when I should have clearly won it. It’s all psychological sometimes. If I really have to say which is toughest, I would say it’s the 1500m for my J1 National Track and Field finals. I was clearly not the favourite for the race because my last win in a 1500m was ages ago in secondary 2. But on a final day of National Track and Field, with crowd support from our individual schools, it was anybody’s race. So when I rounded the last bend for the final 200m, I decided to go for gold. And for a moment, I was in the lead and I thought I really could get it. And as we neared the 100m mark, Madankumar and Ahmad Nabil came from behind and began their last sprint. Clearly, my speed was not their match. I gave everything I had in my legs and arms but still, they pulled away. That was one of the races I was not disappointed to lose because I knew that I had given it my best shot. This was one of the physically toughest races.

On the other hand, I would say the J2 National Cross Country was also one of the toughest in the psychological sense. This was one race that I ran alone without the help from fellow competitors, all the while keeping faith that I would be able to catch up from behind. Let me explain. The favourite for the race was Darshanat from Innova Junior College and he was clearly out of my reach. And so I knew my best shot was a silver medal. There were Ying Ren, Ee Ghim and I vying for the same silver medal. I knew they would go out hard and fast with Darshan and try to outlast each other. But my coach and I had a different plan. We decided that I should stick to my own pace – one that would take me to Ee Ghim and Ying Ren by the end of the race so that I would eventually be the last one laughing. But that would take a lot of faith and discipline to keep pace, and to keep believing that I would really catch up with the two of them. I finally caught up with Ying Ren and overtook him with about 1km to go. The 3.6km before that was constant self-assurance and self-talk. That had to be one of the most psychologically draining races.

Do you have any top athlete that you consider as a role model?

I would say Haile Gebrselassie is my role model because he is a humble person even though he has achieved many great feats. His amiable and humorous personality is also very charming. To be a top athlete is one thing. To be a top athlete who keeps coming back for more challenges is another. Haile has been competing at the highest level of long distance running for many years but he never seems to be sick of running and pushing himself hard. He helped me see that the competition is not out there, but within me. The goal is to push our own physical and mental boundaries.

What advice would you like to give to youngsters who want to win?

I have received so many valuable pieces of advice that I would pass on to the next generation but the most important advice is that long distance running is 10% physical and 90% psychological. And the psychological game starts from day 1 of training and not just during the race itself. If you have the confidence in yourself and your coach, the mental resilience to keep trying, the hunger to win, the discipline to stay the course and be focused, then it’s more than half the battle won. It’s easy to say “I want to win” but it’s not that easy to say “I want to put in all the hard work and sacrifices”. The strongest mind will prepare you for the toughest training and with that combination, I am sure victory is not too far away.

What goes on in your mind before you run the races?

When I was running for Chinese High and then Hwa Chong Institution, I always reminded myself that the race is for the school. When I reminded myself that it’s not for my own glory or achievement, I was more relaxed. I would also think of all the training that I had done so that I reminded myself not to let all that go to waste. To see myself as doing something for the school gave me more strength and helped me find that extra ‘gear’ when I need to. If I thought of doing it for my own glory, I tended to give up easily. Now that I no longer run for an organisation, I think of my friends and family who are concerned and supportive of me.

How many gold medals have you won for the nat sch cross country and for track?

5 for National Track. 2 for National Cross.

How is your training going on for now?

Training is no longer as tough and disciplined as it used to be in a team. With a whole array of latent injuries, I find it quite impractical and insensible to push as hard as I used to since it might just make matters worse. I am trying to maintain a high baseline of fitness so that I am still able to participate in competitive running any time I need to. Personally, I am now able to make a distinction between training and just running. Training is more goal-oriented. I would like to see myself as just enjoying my runs and the occasional workout sessions.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Speedy Weight Loss Program

I am writing this after the success of my own weight which went down from 73kg to 55kg in 1 1/2 years and over time coming in as the champion for the Standard Chartered Marathon 2008, at the age of 43 with a time of 2hr 49min.

Also, after an advice, my friend Pramod Kukunur has lost from 80kg to 72kg within 3 months from mid January to mid- April 2010. Hence, he has initiated this blog so that I can help as many people as possible to reduce weight.

20 Pearls of Wisdom to Reduce Weight

1. Watch your weight by weighing everyday.

2. Consume alot of fruits and vegetable. Anti-oxidants are present in these food.

3. Take food like cornflakes, pasta and spagetti.

4. Drink 200 - 300ml water an hour per day, 9am to 7pm.

5. Do strength training once a week. Muscles will burn fats like furnace.

6. No late night food. Possible stop consuming food by 6pm, latest by 7pm

7. Exercise 20-40min per day, except on one rest day, go for brisk walk, run, cycle or swim

8. Avoid people who likes to keep talking about food.

9. Take heavy breakfast in the morning.

10. Do not go for second helping, instead take fruits and vegetables.

11. Take food as medicine.

12. Do Yoga or Tai Chi to increase the metabolism in the body.

13. Take food made up of wheat.

14. Consume deep fried very sparingly.

15. Make available fruits around the house, outside.

16. Chew food 30 times.

17 After food, do not sleep immediately. At least an hour should go before sleep.

18. Take spices in food.

19. Drink water before you consume food.

20.  Wake up and sleep early.