Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kiplimo Chemirmir - The Runimal

Kiplimo Chemirmir

Picture 1 - Kiplimo winning in a race

Some call him Kip, Kippy and others call him Limo. Kiplimo Chemirmir, who was born in Kenya and is based in USA, is a runner who does good stretching as part of his training regime. He trains very hard and also has a system to make the body to recover fast. He believes that he can run from middle distance, from 800m to ultramarathon distances.

His time from 800metres and above are all fantastic. It will be good to know Kiplimo more from his interview. Let us find out more about this world class athlete who has several personal best starting from 100metres. He has the aspiration to run in the London Olympics 2012.

Interview on Kiplimo Chemirmir

Picture 2 - Kiplimo Chemirmir after a half-marathon race.

What distances do you usually run in races?
Hahaha this a tough question I always fail to answer this. All I can say is I run any distance from 800meters to 50k, if you ask me how do I do that or how is it possible, I will tell you that it is possible because I don't believe in impossible. I train myself to face every challenge that any distance will throw at me and, above all, I believe that God has created me to be a Runimal. It is rooted in my heart and I can't set limits on myself for I believe that I can do anything that I set my eyes on and train for it. It is the same thing as in life it all requires one to prepare oneself for dreams, don't choose nor knows no limit.

What is your latest win and where. Can you inform us on the time that you have done?
My latest win was too hot to handle 15k and I'm hoping to win El Scorcho 50k tonight.
So far, I have compete in 20 races this year, won 9 of them, finished 2nd in 5 of them, 3rd twice, 4th once, 5th twice and worst of them 9th once.

What are your personal best for 100m 200m 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase (if your have any), 5000m , 10km and half - marathon and marathon time (if you have any)?
100- 11:80s
200- 21:33s
400- 47:09s
1500- 3:40
3000 S/C- 8:51:10.
4km- 10:13
5000- 13:38
8km- 24:18
10km- 29:22
15km- 45:51
Half marathon- 1:06:15
Marathon-- 2:33:24 hoping to run 2hr 18min before the end of this year and see if I can. If not, I might go back to track next year. However, before I do that, I have aspirations to run Boston marathon one day.

What is your age now?
I'm 27 years old now. just turned actually :)

Are you married?
I am in a relationship with the most beautiful woman on earth. She is a tough long distance runner. Her name is Rachel Lindner. Hope to marry her soon :)

Where are you staying now to do your training?
I'm based in a calm and beautiful city in Texas U.S.A - called Flower mound.

What are your important wins in the past 3 years?
Um, to be honest, I usually think all the races that I have won as important and very special, for behind every win, I leave a mark with my name with it.

Do you believe that training in group is better than training individually?
Definitely 100% yes!

Can you tell us diet affects training?
According to my experience, yes! It is because running is not just about waking up in the morning and storm out of the door for a run. In fact, running starts from the kitchen, what you eat is what you are, you eat healthy you will become healthy and perform better, because your immune system has all the energy and nutrients that needs to keep you going. but if you eat junk food, you will suffer, an athlete doesn't have to eat delicious food from the restaurant, cooking at home is the best way for everyone who wants a good results for himself.

What is your long term goal?
My goal is to join the U.S Army and run for the U.S in 2012 London Olympics. I want to build couple of class rooms for a primary school in my village where I come from in Kenya. Also, I would like to build a bridge that will help hundreds of kids to get to school in time during the rainy season. I would like to build a training camp for handful of unfortunate talented runners and help them get a manager who will help them to travel to Europe and U.S to run and make money to support their families. Lastly, I would like to build a Children's home and Church in my village in Kenya. We don't have any as we have to use school class rooms on Sundays. :(

What is your advice to people who want to take running seriously?
Train properly, change your shoes often to avoid many avoided injuries, eat healthy, stay healthy, stay out of trouble, be discipline, have faith in what you do, dont give up even in a dare, do what you must to make things better, love what you do and you will never get tired of it, have a decent programme, find a training partner or a good and motivating training group, train hard for without giving your best of efforts you will never achieve anything and success will still be a dream like to many who have failed for fear of pain. Never stop giving your best even when you don't perform well for there is always a second chance to make things right, if you fail to reach your expectations just go back to training and train hard and correct the mistakes. Believe in yourself. There is much you can do that you don't know yet. I believe God gave us a great talent and its our responsibility to nourish them. So friends with your efforts that you put in you can be anything you want to be, fast or tough. It is all up to you to decide.

Above all, never ever forget to pray, God is gets our attention through our prayers and our faith draws Him closer. Root that in your heart and you will never be disappointed!

Why do you run?
I run for many great reasons but, above all, I don't run because I want to be famous or anything. I run for my life, I run to make my future better. You know in Kenya running is a job, we don't do it for fun, although we make it look like it is fun but deep inside we take it seriously, and to defy and overcome poverty and help my family I have to run with my heart. When i was young, my Mother taught me that life is not about one self but it is about caring for others. If you set this example, many who will see you or come after you will be inspired and motivated to emulate you. Life becomes great when we all achieve. So you can see that I not only run for myself but I run for many who depend on me and have looked after me. This is why i run and there is nothing greater to me as I love doing this which brings more blessings to me :)

Do you like running or competing? :)
For me, as an elite runner, i like to compete because i want to win, that's make me a competitor.

What are the values very important in running?
Most enormous values of running is discipline. Running makes life great and the best thing about running is it will bring you many wonderful friends and with running you will get to visit places that you never dream you would ever visit. Once you become a runner, you will explore many amazing things that is not familiar to your heart. 

I saw your training program. It superman effort to do that? Can you explain how you are able to do it?
First of all its about timing your feelings and know that it is the right time to do. It is because intense training like this is not something that you can just wake up and do. It requires a heart. This kind of training helps me to run any distance that I set my mind in with no fear or weakness, the training is very painful to even to mortal like me and without a great heart that has miles and miles of patience and perseverance, it wont be easy to wake up for it.

I like to do it with my heart than do it later, for I know if I do anything with my heart, physically it will be a little easy but still I will feel the excruciating pain of it, but after all its done, it will be good to go hard for the next 6 months, enjoying victories in the various races that I have to compete in. However,  although I know that the training will help me stay on top shape, it doesn't mean I won't be training hard, training never stop for me.


Importance of Motor Skill in Children

Motor Skills - What parents need to know before their child become a champion one day or grow up holistically.

Picture 1 - Better motor skill enables a child to be a well coordinated person

I met Gregory Tan in Loughbrough University of Technology for our degree course. We became good friends and also realised that both us were from the same secondary school, St Josephs' Institution and have the same alma mater 'Ora et Labora' which means work and pray. In England, at times, we used to play soccer together whenever we were free and have nothing to do. 

In 1997, as a coach and Head of Department, Gregory Tan was able to make Greenview Secondary, an unknown school to soccer to come in as a champion for the National Inter-Schools' Soccer Championships.  He was the Head of Department of Greenview Secondary School from 1996 to 2000. The next four years of his career, Gregory was in Co-Curricular Curricular Activity Branch as a Specialist (Tennis). Subsequently in 2005, he did his Masters in Education (UWA) in Human Movement. Between 2006 and 2009, he was in Fernvale Primary School as the Head of Department of PE. At present, he is in the organising committee of the YOG doing the function of Assistant Committee Manager.

 1) Which secondary school and college were you from in your younger days?
My alma mater is St Joseph’s Institution and I was from Catholic Junior College.

Picture 2 - St Joseph's Institution Badge

2) Where did you get your degree and masters from?
I graduated and did my Post Graduate Diploma in Education in Loughborough University, England. Pursued Masters in Education (with emphasis in Human Movement) in University of Western Australia.

3) What is your speciality?
I am fascinated by the development and learning of motor skills.

Picture 3 - Children's motor pattern start to develop at a very young age.

4) Why do you think that motor skill is vitally important to the primary students? What are the disadvantages of a child not having proper motor skill when they are young?
The learning of motor skills is similar to the learning of languages. It is easier to learn a new skill / language when one is younger. Children are generally more curious, eager and enthusiastic. If we miss this crucial period of learning, we miss a chance to develop the fundamental movement skills of a child. Without the proper development of such skills, children will tend to shy away from participation in any form of physical activity, especially sports and games in future.

5) Can you name me some of the important motor skill that can be developed in a child?
We need not go so far as to spell out complex motor skills like a somersault or an back flip; but the key motor skills for a child to learn are the fundamental movement skills like running, throwing, catching, kicking, dodging, jumping etc. Of course, within each skill mentioned they can be further divided into more specific skills e..g. for throwing, there can be overhead throw, underarm throw etc.

6) Between which age group does this motor skill start to form?
Skill mastery will vary according to individual differences, the quality and quantity of instruction and practice. In short, nature as well as proper nurturing will contribute to the competency of a child’s motor skill. As a guide for kids age 5 onwards, parents should have some knowledge of how to structure a development programme for their children.

7) Is there any consequence that they may have to go through?Does motor skill affect self-esteem?

Picture 4 - Self - esteem is very important as it involves self-worth

Children develop self-esteem and social skills when they play with others in the playground. They will lose out on this great opportunity to grow holistically if they lack the necessary movement skills to enjoy or join in a game.

8) Can you elaborate whether motor skill affects whether you want to be a champion?
Surely. Without a good grounding of the fundamental motor skills, an athlete will find it harder to master complex movements which will be a requirement if he or she wants to be a champion. For example, if a tennis player doesn’t possess a good throwing technique, he will find it hard to master the serve as the throwing action is the core of the service motion.

Picture 5 - Everything starts from proper Motor Skill learning from young.

9) What is your advice on improving or developing motor skills in children?
It will have to be a national effort to ensure that our children and future generations develop proper fundamental motor skills. There is a need to address the competence of our coaches and PE teachers especially at primary school level so that we can ensure quality instruction is provided during lessons.

10) How many days per week is needed to optimally develop motor skills in children?
On average, fundamental movement skills in children need at least 14-16 months of structured teaching spread over 4-5 years of their primary school years to nurture and develop. But as mentioned, it is subjected to individual differences and the quality of instruction too.

From Gregory Tan : All the Best in your teaching and coaching!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How to improve Standing Broad Jump (Part 2)? Simple Strengthening

Standing Broad Jump (Part 2) - A test of dynamic power of the legs.

Strengthening Exercise

The hip flexor muscles are actually the muscles that run alongside your hips. By strengthening your hip flexor muscles you can improve performance in various other activities such as running, jumping and kicking. When we pull the legs in towards the chest, the legs forms 90 degrees, which is perpendicular to the body. At this point, the hip-flexor muscle is not engaged as much. It is only when it crosses the more than 90 degrees, meaning the knee going towards the body, that the hip-flexor, which is the muscle between the quadriceps and the abdominals, will be exercising. If you pull in and the knee touches the chest, the hip-flexor is worked even harder for this exercise.

Training for it
Doing 10 of these x 3 sets will help build the hip-flexor muscles. Do this on alternative days. After this exercise, allow rest to take place the next day. There are variety of these type of exercises as well.

Kiplimo Chemirmir - One of the top Kenyan runner showing how to strengthen the hip-flexor.

This exercise will enable us to engage the hip-flexor muscles, thereby allowing a better extension of the knee so that one can land further during a broad jump.

Picture 2A - Knee Extension while in mid-air, the key to a better jump is a strong hip-flexor muscles. The feet, calves and quadriceps muscles will only help before the take-off only.

Picture 2B- A progression from the jump above. The knee extension allows one to go further. Upon landing, one should land with hands from high up in the air coming to the front bringing the hands infront, possibly touching the ground.

Halasana - Benefits of Plough Stand

Halasana (Plough Stand) - Excellent for Lower Back

Halasana - Hala (plough) and asana (pose), in Sanskrit, is a yoga posture in which the practitioner lies down on the floor, lifts the legs, and then places them behind the head. For people who do this form of exercise will not compaint about back problem. However, those who have problems of the back should get advise from doctors or physician before embarking on the journey of doing Halasana.  

Picture One - Kiplimo Chemirmir, one of the top and elite long distance runner from Kenya, is doing Halasana with perfection (Note: Fastening of the hands in this manner expands the lungs to breathe in more air. More air means more oxygen.

Benefits of Halasana

(1) The entire spinal column is being stretched, nourishing the spinal nerves.

(2) The muscles that are supporting the back are stretched and strengthened.

(3) The internal organs are stimulated.

(4) The mind becomes calm and peaceful.

(5) This a very good stretch before and after a run. Doing 20sec of this stretch is sufficient.

(6) It is an excellent stretch before and after doing workouts and to run before a race. A 1 min stretch will be a good thing to do if one is about to do a bout of intensive exercise or run.

How to improve Standing Broad Jump?

How to Improve The Standing Broad Jump?

Firstly, the standing broad jump is a jump which has a ballistic action, which involves the engagement and recruitment of glutes muscle, calve muscle and predominantly the quadricep muscles. Having strong feet will give one a very good push off from the ground.  

1. One should lift up from the ground by giving a good push off by the feet. The engagement of quadricep muscles at this is very important.
2. While in mid-air, once should bring one's hand as high as possible to bring the center of gravity up.
3. While in mid-air, one should bring the knee to the chest, engaging the hip-flexor muscle to work. This will allow the further extension of the legs when landing. One can land further with this action.
4. Upon landing on the ground, one should land and at the same time bringing the hand forward and place it on the ground, so that one do not lean backwards and fall back.

My Experience in the Army

I remember as a long distance runner, who was not a marathoner. In the army, I failed the standing broad jump for the NAPFA Test. I was told by the instructors during my recruit days to do tuck jumps. Over time, from about 190cm, I was able to jump 243cm in a span of 3 month. I was doing about 5 tuck jumps once or twice per week.

Over a period of time, with circuits done in England, when I wanted to jump further for the standing broad jump, I had to resort to jumps which had a lot of variety. Some of the jumps which will help people to jump further in standing broad jump are given below.

1. Do this on alternate days.
2. If Sunday is the test date, one should rest on Friday and Saturday.
3. One should be able to see results in broad jump if done for 6 weeks.Within 2 weeks one could see results. 
4. One should not do this daily. Resting on alternate day will give the muscles to recover.
5. If it is impossible to do this exercises on alternative dates, one could do at least one week once.
6. Weight reduction for overweight person allows one to jump further over time.

Picture One - 25metres one leg hop on the right leg and then hop on left leg for 25 metres.
Picture Two - Tuck Jumps (5 times). Knee should touch the chest when going up

Picture 3 - Star Jump 5 times. Jump as high as possible as you come up.

Picture 4 - Depth Jumping - Jump up on the box and jump down on the cushion and jump onto the other box. Do this for a minute continuously. If you like our blogpost, pse like us in facebook

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Desire leads to Pain - How to run with less worry?

Stories from the East (Part 5)

This is a short story about a kite. The story is very beautiful to read and reflect. I became fond of it as I liked the moral of the story. It is one of the best story that I have come across.

There was once a kite which looked very majestic. It was flying gracefully very high in the air. It stayed high up for about an hour. After that the weather suddenly started to become not favourable. Clouds gathered and the wind suddenly started to howl and whistle loudly. The kite started its descent because of the downward powerful push from the wind.

As the kite descended, it went down all the way to hit the surface of the sea. As it brushed on the surface of the sea, it appeared with a fish on itself. The fish was actually swimming up to the surface of the sea and then swim downwards. However, while it was doing this it unfortunately got caught on to the kite.
Seeing this, a bird which was flying and passing by chanced to see the fish on the kite. The focus of the bird's eyes was only the fish. It was hungry and thought that it will be  good idea to eat the fish and was starting to make its way towards the kite aggressively. The other birds which were aware of the sight started to fly towards the kite and were trying to vie for the fish and wanted to be the first to consume it.

Owing to the sudden changes in the wind direction, the kite was flying up and down most of the time. Also, all of a sudden it was moving sideways, then again repeatedly it was going up and then down. It happened like this for several times and the predator birds just kept gathering in strength to catch the fish. The kite felt miserable over this incident and was trying to keep away from the predator birds. As time passed, it started worrying more and more.

While more and more birds gathered, finally there was a strong push all the way downwards to the surface of the sea. It happened so fast that it was the similar brushing of the kite on the surface of the sea that took place earlier on when the fish got stuck. However, this time, it became miraculous when the fish was let off, by the fish taking its opportunity to escape itself from the kite. It ended very successful when it finally managed to escape.  

As soon as the fish got away, the kite was feeling lighter than before and felt itself flying higher and higher. It was raising itself so high up until it reached the earlier height it attained before and felt itself having freedom to move in the sky, without being attacked by any predator birds. It was feeling the difference of having the fish on itself and without. The kite felt on top of the world and felt very happy eventually.

Moral of the Story
Everything in life comes in a package. The truth is pain and pleasure are one. People are attached to pleasure and not to pain. Refusing to believe this is only making ourselves look foolish, that's all. When we desire more, there is all the pain that we got to go through to attain it. More desires means more pain. More pain means more the misery. If we put ceiling to our desire, the only thing we feel will be happiness. Desire has no end. We can keep on desiring. Even when a desire is fulfilled, the desires keep coming back. Also, when the desire is not fulfulled, it will only bring dissatisfaction. One would feel miserable. By having no desire, one will have a feeling freedom from wants.

The key thing is to desire the necessary wants and drop the unnecessary wants. It is good for us to realise the truth that everything surrounding us is temporary and changing. It is not permanent. Hence, it is good to be aware of what happens when you cling on to something which is after all temporary.

Application to Running - My Experience
If you have less desires you will have more time for yourselves to train. The goals will be easier to attain. Examples like desire to study and run form as necessary goals. When you are very interested in more material gain, one has to check whether the gain is for simple living or for a complicated living. The key is simple living and high thinking.
The lesser the desire, the stronger is the will to attain what you are aiming for.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How to improve pull-up (Part 2)? Feng Meng Ke's Story

Feng MengKe - The Incredible

This is an interesting interview and it is on determination. Feng MengKe of Hwa Chong Institution obtained zero for his pull-up score for the NAPFA Test, in late April. He is from Health and Fitness Club and School Cross-Country Club. Once I knew this, I told him to improve on his pull up score in order to improve on running.

I told him the story of Colin Ng, who is now a J2 student as well in Hwa Chong Institution (College) to infuse faith, hope and believe in him. Most of the pull-up sessions MengKe did on his own for training. Sometimes, he used to come down for training and do the pull-up training during our CCA training. Just a month back, his pull-up score was 8. In the recent test he scored 9, eventually.

I remember MengKe not able to do any pull up. He did not have the strength to go up and I had to counsel him on his goal to do well in pull-up. He took the advice seriously and finally did the impossible. I believe tha this interview will be an inspiration for all those who want to improve the pull-up score.

He was asked to share his experience on how he got 9 pull ups within 3 months.

An Interview With MengKe
Which level are you in in Hwa Chong College?
I’m currently J2 in Hwa Chong.

Which items of the test battery are you weak at for the NAPFA Test?
Pull ups.

What is your pull up score about 3 months back?

What is your pull up score now?

How did you train up for pull up? Can you give us in detail?
At first in my first Napfa test near the end of April, I could not do any pull-ups despite having started training for it since about a month. At that point, I felt very disappointed with myself because I felt that I should at least be able to do 1 or 2. Hence, from that day on, I decided to train harder. I trained everyday from Monday to Friday, and resting on Saturday and Sunday. For training, I trained with a friend. We assisted each other in doing pull ups. We did about 4 sets of 6 pull ups. Other than this, I would go to the gym and train pull ups there once or twice per week. I used this method to train until it is about the June holidays. By this time, I could do about 3 to 4 pull ups on my own. I improved by about 1 pull up per week. During the June holidays, for training I just did my maximum number of pull ups without assistance about 3 times per day, usually in the morning, afternoon and at night. I rest on 1 day in a week, usually either Saturday or Sunday. In addition to this, I went to the gym about once a week. Using this method, I increased my pull ups by on average 1 every week. By the end of the June holidays, I could do about 8 pull ups. After that, because of the block test, I did my maximum number of pull ups only once every day and by the time it is my napfa test, which is 2 weeks after the June holidays, I managed to do 9 pull ups during the test.

Do you feel that the pull up score affects the running performance?
Yes, a higher pull up score makes you feel stronger.

What is your advice to people who have failed the pulled test?
You need to train consistently. By training consistently, you can improve more quickly.

What is your advice to people who has zero for pull up?
You need to work hard and train consistently. It is possible to improve from zero to a high score but you need to be willing to work hard.

Do you feel that the pull up score will enhance one’s self-esteem (self-worth)?
Yes, you will feel more confident of yourself.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Henry Rono - The Person Who Broke The World Record 4 times ( Part 1)

Henry Rono (Kenya) - One of the Most Spectacular Runner I have ever come across

Picture One - Henry Winning Many Races

When my fellow school-mate of St Joseph's Institution, Ow Kok Meng, who at present is the HOD of Pasir Ris Secondary and also the main organiser of the Real Run (New Balance) races on an annual basis,  discussed on anything related to running, we always got ourselves excited when see world class races on the television. At secondary two, we used to watch Henry Rono winning the 3000m steeplechase race and the 5000m race during the Commonwealth Games. It was very inspiring and we used to look up to him a lot.

We were impressed and were amazed with his performances. It was that kind of performance that made us to stay motivated in running. Ow Kok Meng, later pursued in running and did his personal best time of 3min 59sec for the 1500m. This time that Ow Kok Meng did in the past is still the best time ever done by an SJI boy. When we were young, Kok Meng used to pull me along for running. I was very reluctant to come down for training as I was not interested in running, as a whole. Only later on I got myself hooked into running. I attribute my success to my alma mater SJI and I will always remember the motto Ora Et Labora (Pray and Work). Later on, Ow Kok Meng gave up competitive running but he was still engaged in the running scene, even until now.

In Loughborough University of Technology, during our Sports Technology lesson, which was Athletics, Sir George Gandy gave us some materials to study on. The material was on speed endurance. We studied the way the former world great runner Abdi Bile trained. It was very interesting. I applied these principal upon returning from England. Now, I am aware that Bile was in fact trained by the Great Henry Rono. Hence, Henry Rono is a force to be reckon with.

Coming back to the story on Henry Rono, I realised that the races he ran and the competition he had with Steve Ovett were all memorable. Hence, I realised that it would be good idea to let many know about Henry Rono before we read about his interview.

Picture Two - Henry Rono leading the pack in the 3000m Steeplechase Event

Rono was born in Kenya and belonged to the Nandi tribe. During his formative years in the primary school, he started running. Over time, in 1977 he studied at the Washington State University. He had a coach by the name of John Chaplin. Bernard Lagat and Mike Kosgei and other Kenyan runners also studied in the university. After Gerry Lindgren and Steve Prefontaine, Rono became the only third person in history to win the NCAA Men's Cross Country Championship three times, in 1976, 1977, and 1979. His winning time of 28:07 in 1976 remains the fastest 10,000 meter cross country time in NCAA history. 

Of the years, 1978 was the best year in Rono's running season. Within 81 days, he broke four world records: the 10,000 meters (27:22.5), the 5,000 meters (13:08.4), the 3,000 meters steeplechase (8:05.4), and the 3,000 meters (7:32.1); He improved the 10,000 meter record by almost 8 seconds, the 5,000 by 4.5seconds, the steeplechase by 2.6seconds, and the 3,000 by a full three seconds. In the same year, he also won the 5000 m and the 3000 m steeplechase gold medals at the Commonwealth Games. During the All-Africa Games 1978, he won 10,000 metres and 3000 metres steeplechase gold medals. After turning 58 in February 2010, Rono is attempting to break the world masters mile record for the 55-59 age group. He also wrote his autobiography, entitled Olympic Dream, in 2007.

Having said that let us now Interview this Great Runner, Henry Rono, who has written a book on Olympic Dream.

What is your age now?
I am 58 years old.

What are you doing for career?
I am a National Coach of Yemen in Cross-Country and Track and Field events.

When did you take up running?
I started late when I was 18 years old in 1970.

How many world records did you break in the past?
I broke four world records.
5000m - 13min 08.4sec in April 8, 1978 at Berkely, California, USA,
3000m Steeplechase - 8min 05.4 sec. in May 13, 1978 Seattle,Washington, USA.
10,000m - 27m 22.4 sec. in June 11, 1978 in Vienna, Austria, Europe
3000m.- 7min 32.1sec in June 27, 1978 in Oslo, Norway.

Which part of the world were you training in the past?
I was training in Kenya, Gilgil Army Barracks between 1973 and 1976 during the Olympic Year before heading to Washington State University in the fall of 1976. I established an international training program which saw many people attending because of the four world records in 81 days (1978) that I broke.

Can you give your personal best for the following events?
800m:1:52 min
3000m steeplechase:8:05.4 min
5000m:13.06.2 min
10000m:27:22.4 min

Are you still competing for your age?
Yes, right now I'm planning to run in the age group 55-59 and be able to run the mile (1600m) in 4:40s that is to break the record for my age group.

Picture 3 - The Still Running Henry Rono At Age 58

Can you tell us the recipe for winning races?(We appreciate if you can give us some details on this).
How to get there is a long process, which needs dedication, discipline and believing in yourself.
Which race was the toughest race, to date? Can you elaborate more?
I ran in the year of 1982 when I was out of shape. I ran with Alberto Salazar in a condition that I was not ready. However, I wanted to show my spirit of running to the world by competing and it was the toughest race in my running career.

When did you complete writing the book on the Olympic Dream?
I finished it in 2007.

Can you tell us more about the book?
There is a summary about Olympic Dream online if you google it. Just look for the summary on my facebook.

What is your advice to people who want to take up running seriously?
To have a long term plan and take all steps until you reach to the top of the mountain.

What is your advice to people who are 40 years and above?
Take all the steps to train and at the same time be your own doctor doing daily research in exercise and life sciences.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Marathon Runners That I Coached/Assisted - (Part 4) . Ernest Wong - 2hr 37min.

Ernest Wong - Potential of Breaking the National Record for the Marathon.

Picture One - The MR25 Club members - Standing at extreme right (Donald Ng) and 5th from right (Ernest Wong). Seated, third from right (Khoo Chin Poo)

In the Sheares Bridge Army Half- Marathon 2002, I narrated on how I met Donald Ng and Ernest Wong. It was in the year 2002, directly after the Army Half-Marathon, during the Annual meeting of the MR25 Club members, I met them. Since Donald Ng enthrusted on me to coach Ernest Wong to do a sub 2hrs 40mins for the marathon, I decided to tell Donald that Ernest can join me in the three times per week training.

Picture 2- Donald Ng (Current 6 Division Trainer and the mentor of Ernest Wong)  Still running actively at the age of 50plus

Later on, Khoo Chin Poo, another marathoner, who had a personal best of 2hr 34min came to see me and told me that he would like to join us in the training for fun. I told him that he can join us once a week for the workouts. Khoo told me that his time has gone down to 3hrs flat because of not training much. He was very happy to join us.

During that period, an ITE athlete by the name of Alson Foo, came to join me in running. I had to help my friend Ravi, the then HOD of ITE Bishan. Even Donald joined us in the group. Therefore, there were altogether five of us doing training. However, two days per week, I used to join these runners for my own fitness. Once a week, I used to train with them during a workout session. That's all for my training. The only focus I had was to keep myself fit. That's was the goal, not winning. Beyond three times per week, I did not run. The rest of them did their long runs, on the days I don't train with me.

Ernest trained with me and did the training word for word. He followed the training religiously. As I was not interested in coaching, I consulted Steven Quek to ask whether he can help them. Ernest and Khoo Chin Poo were forthcoming with this idea. To this, Steven told me that his hands were tight. However, Steven told me that he can help me to train me as I was his friend. I told Steven that these people need help and not me. I also told that my competitive days were over. I told him that I was keeping myself fit. Still Steven rejected the idea. However, Steven was telling me that he can come once a week to help out. At first, he did help us time but over time he had to look after the school athletes and subsequently was not able to help.

Hence, things were left to me and I found that these people are coming at the wrong time. I did not have any zest and enthusiasm at that time. Usually, I am full of zest and enthusiasm throughout my life. In my life, 2003 was considered the worst year of my life. Usually, I have been jovial throughout my life. I am known to joke easily and am relaxed, even during very stressful situations. Actually, I needed a break from running. Since Donald asked me to help Ernest, very reluctantly I came forward to assist. I realised that I had to run in order to push Ernest and Khoo Chin Poo.

The year 2003 was also a memorable year as I got to know Khoo Chin Poo, Ernest Wong and Donald Ng better. I was able to smile better because of them. We used to joke and run for fun. Over time, Ernest and Khoo Chin Poo were improving a lot. They were also ready to do very tough strengthening exercises and I gave them once a week. In fact, I found out that Donald and Ernest liked the strengthening exercises a lot. They expressd to me that they felt that they got stronger because of that.

During the year 2003, we realised that Khoo Chin Poo had the best times for the workouts. Ernest was the second best. Donald and I used to push them. However, we were always far behind. Later, we took part in the Singapore Open Track and Field Championships 2003. Bakthier and I ran for Swift Club and Ernest and Khoo Chin Poo ran for MR25 Club. Bakthier was the national school cross-country champion in the A Division with a time of 15m 05sec for the 4.8km Macritchie Reservoir course. In the race, Steve Brace of Great Britain was also running. Steve Brace was one of the top Marathon ever in Britain. As he was older, he ran the race and came in first with a sub 16min 05sec for the 5km race.

During the run, Khoo Chin Poo and Ernest were doing well at first until I found them getting tired later on. After sometime, I started to overtake them and proceeded to Bakthier and ran neck to neck with him. At th last 200m stretch, I started winding up the race and ended up coming in as the first local runner.

After a period of time, Ernest ran the workouts with fantastic times. I was telling myself that this guy was capable of breaking the national record for marathon. His timing of the workouts were all wonderful. The only problem Ernest always faced was rest. Because of this he was not able to train well. I told myself that doing a sub 2hr and 40min was going to take place anytime. In the Singapore Marathon 2003, Ernest got dehydrated and had cramps. He did a time of 3hrs. I told him that he was about to do a sub 2hr 40min anytime and I told him to mark my words.

Donald and Ernest started to train together and followed my strength training religiously. I wanted a break from assisting Ernest. In February 2004, I chanced to see Ernest running in the television. He was running live in the Hong Kong Marathon 2004. In the race, I saw Ernest doing a time of 2hrs 37min. This was a happy news for me and Donald. After the race, Ernest started to tone down on training.

If you ask me on those potential to do sub 2hrs 24mins, I would say that Ernest Wong is one such person who is capable of breaking it. Right now, Ernest is still running for his army unit, 6 Division. As an athlete, he was following the training given without complaint. I used to admire his courage and determination to finish up the tough training given. He is very strong up in the mind. He is one of those who came with me for the Sendai Marathon in Japan, where we had to run part of the distance which covered the marathon distance using 5 athletes.  

Sheares Bridge Army - Half Marathon 2002

Sheares Bridge Army Half - Marathon 2002 (1hr 17min)

I retired from serious running at the age of 29 in the year 1995. In year 2002, for fun, I took up serious running to see whether I can do a sub 1hr 20min for the Half - marathon. At that time, I was teaching at the then The Chinese High School. I did not want to train like how I used to do in my prime and had to half my mileage during training, especially for the last 1 month. I did not want to train very hard because it will take away most of my time away. A lot of sacrifice is needed indeed. Furthermore, I told myself that what I wanted to achieve has been achieved, which is hitting the qualifying time for the Olympics.

From 1995 to 2001, I did not compete seriously. After 2001, I wanted to see how I will perform if I make a comeback in running. I wanted to do only for a while only and go back to usual life of coaching.

In 2002, Army Half-marathon race, I had to compete with an athlete by the name of Low Yeah Kher. Around that year, Elangovan was injured, having ligament torn in one of the leg. For all the monthly time-trials of the 2PDF, Yeah Kher was always winning. However, I told myself to do once a day long session runs and go for first position for the Army Half marathon.

The day came where, from the start, I followed Yeah Kher. He was running smoothly and over time, especially after the 10km mark, he made several attempts to kick me off by splitting from me. Each time he did that, I caught up with him. I found his pace just manageable to follow. At one point, somewhere at the half-way mark, I had to throw a perforated material into the box which I forgot to and had to turn back and run behind to put. I saw Yeah Kher doing that while on the run, earlier on. When I finished putting the perforated material into the box, he was about 40-50metres away. He did a fast-break on me, which made him to have a small lead.

I did not panic and later on caught up with him at the last 800m as we were neck to neck at that point. I decided to split from him at the last 700m to the finish. At this point, we were near the indoor Stadium. At the road circle, I saw barricades. I ran to take the shortest possible course as Yeah Kher took the longer one. Seeing this, immediately, I ran out of the circle and ran with him. I lost some time and distance because of this action. However, I wanted to win him in a fair manner. Instead of leading him, I was again neck to neck. Again I ran as fast as I can to wind up the race.

It was maximum effort on my part to speed up and finish the race. Yeah Kher followed me just behind all the way and gave his best shot to win. Knowing this, I did not cave in. When I heard his footsteps again, I mustered up all my will and strength and gave another push to the finish, especially at the last 200m. I gave off everything that I had got to finish. Hence, I became Men Open local first, finally. As soon as Yeah Kher finished, I also saw N. Ganesan just behind Yeah Kher. It was a narrow escape to win N. Ganesan also. All the while, I did not know that he was behind us.
After the race, a few days later, I went down for the MR25 gathering where I met Donald Ng and Ernest Wong. Both were not good friends of mine. We used to say," Hello", that's all. At that place, I not familiar to many of the MR25 Club  members. I was conversing mainly with Yvonne Danson. After some time, during that night, Donald called on me over to talk. I realised that, during the discussion, Donald had been the source of inspiration to Ernest Wong, who was a competitor to me in the past who could do a 5km time on the track with a time of sub 16min 30sec. Donald was in fact, more or less, coaching and mentoring Ernest Wong. That truth was exposed when I was there for the gathering.

The MR25 Club Members - Standing on the extreme right is Donald Ng and 5th from left is  Ernest Wong.

Donald told me that Ernest is depressed with running because of not hitting a sub 2hrs 40mins for the marathon. Our friendship blossomed from the meeting. Donald wanted me to coach Ernest to make him even better in running. Donald was very concerned. I saw the face of Ernest the hunger he had. After much thought, I decided to help him, even though I was not interested in coaching anybody around the period of time. In my mind, there was no any form of interest to run competitively and coach any top athlete as well. In short, I was not interested in any form of fame. However, I wanted to help Ernest as he was sincere to work harder.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rote Learning (Stories From The East - Part 3)

Stories From The East - Stories that facinated me during my intensive running days.

Rote learning

There was once in India where the Indian Army decided to recruit many people into its defence force. Hence, they selected as many people as they can. Those selected were sent to different units for training. At times, these units were inspected annually by the top brass people in the army. It was very rare that a person by the rank of General to inspect the camp.

In one of the unit of the army camp, there was once a sudden order from the top Commander that this particular company would be inspected. In the army, a company means a smaller division of the unit. The company was called Jaguar company.

As soon as the officers heard that the General by the name of Anand Raj is coming, they were stressed up. They were thinking about what to do with the predicament of this General visiting the camp. They started to brainstorm and decided that all  men should be confident of themselves in answering the General's usual questions, especially to the private soldiers. It so happened that the Jaguar company had a person by the name of Somu who was slow to react to simple questions. The higher echelon people, the sargeant and the corporals were terribly worried as to how deal with the problem. During the theory and practical sessions, Somu had fumbled and failed most of the tests. He had also made a mess of many situations. Somu was also 21 years of age and was inexperienced in many things related to the Army. As Somu was not clever enough to answer, an officer by the name of Muthu instructed Sargeant Raman to teach him to answer properly if Somu was asked some questions by General Anand Raj.

Just before the day of the General's visit, it took the sargeant the whole day to teach private Somu to answer the usual questions that General Anand Raj used to  ask always. He told him that the first question that the General will ask on a  person's name. The third question will be on how long a person has been in the army. The second question would be on what is the age of the person. Finally, he was known for asking the soldier whether they know Tamil and English. To this the sargeant told him to answer as, ''Both, sir".

The hours of preparing Somu to answer to the usual questions came to an end. Eventually, Somu seemed to get the answers right. The day came when the General came and inspected everything of the Jaguar Company. He was very happy with everything until he met Somu. When the General came very close to Somu, the latter was very scared and nervous. He began to fumble. Somu was muttering, "Why me?" He could not know what he is going to answer. He told himself to answer in sequence as taught by  the sargeant.

The conversation went like this:

Gen Anand Raj : What is your name?
Somu               : Somu
Gen Anand Raj : How long have you been in the Army?
Somu              : 21 years, Sir. (To this the General seemed puzzled)
BG Anand       : mmm....Strange...What is your age right now?
Somu              : Three,  Sir (Somu started to show confidence by smiling)
Gen Anand      : What! Preposterous! Either you are mad or I am mad?
Somu              : (Somu was wondering why the General Anand Raj was behaving
                         like that and then answered)....... Both, Sir.

The moral of the story is to not do rote learning. One such rote learning is doing well in academic studies and use that intelligence to rationalise your training program. Hence, we must be aware that we attached to the intellect. If you want to come up with a program, it is good to read some books on running first. At least one should read 10 books on running before coming up with a simple program. Another advice is to talk to people who like to run and also to have contacts with coaches. One should be humble enough and learn from mistake and over time gain valuable experience. By doing rote learning, one can get injury and also progress at a slower rate. Sports Science knowledge like psysiology and psychology are very important topics to learn before coming up with a training program. If these doesn't help, the help of an experienced runner could come in handy.

Last year, around August, I met a friendly German runner by the name of Thomas Ganzhorn. He was asking me to assist him in running. He told me that he follows a book written by a German. I wanted to see the book. He showed me the program to do a marathon timing of sub 3hrs. The program seemed very good. However, just imagine if 100 people are following that program. It is advisable to take note of the training one has been doing in the formative years. It is good to know whether one has been recently training and also about the injury that took place recently etc. Adapting the training program would help. Individualising the program would be the best solution. Thomas was able to tell me the things he did in the past. Hence, I came out with a revised program. He was very appreciative of that.

Seated From Left Ben Lau, Ashley Liew (2hrs 51min), Brendan Lee (3hrs 05min), Thomas Ganzhorn (2hrs 55min) and Amrit Singh.
Standing From Left - Agnes Tan and Chong Yi Mei

Thomas used to e-mail some questions and over time he was able to do two personal best timing of 53min 30sec for 15km time-trial and 2hr 55min for last year's Standard Chartered Marathon 2010. On the day of the race, after finishing the marathon race, he wanted me to meet his parents. We were not able to meet due to some circumstances and he had to fly back to Germany. Now, he is able to draw out his own program independently and let me show his program for his progress through the e-mail. He has done a personal best of 16min 47sec for the 5km race, recently. Not bad for a person who just started running seriously.