Monday, January 28, 2013

My most memorable day running Schools Nationals Cross Country Race

One of the best cross-country races that I have ever ran In Singapore was in the National Schools Cross Country Race of the 1970/1980s.

Many races that have been held in Singapore have their strengths. I have ran races for the past 30 years or so. Of the race, the best races I can remember was the School Cross Country races organized in the 1970s. 

As a student, training under Mr Joseph Vargese (1977 to 1978), Coleman Baptist (1979 to 1980) and finally under Mr Lui (1980 to 1981), I finally managed to come in 6th in the Nationals Schools Cross Country race. It was the result of Mr Lui’s training. I was in Saint Joseph’s Institution at that time. At that time, there were heats and finals in the National Schools Cross-Country Races. It was a joy for us to run these races. 

In the heats of the national schools’ cross-country race in 1981, I came in 1st and did a time of 16min 02sec for the 4.8km running route in Mac Ritchie Reservoir. In the finals, about 5 days to a week later, I ran the finals in 15min 56sec, one second away from by best time for the route of 15min 55sec. I was having a bruise which dashed my hopes of coming in top 3 for the race.
Anyway, having run the national schools’ cross-country race in the past has made me not just happy but at the same time it made me satisfied also because of the fact that the races were organized very well. I really enjoyed the races of the 1970s and 1980s during my schools days.
The race was very memorable and I have no regrets for losing to my competitors at that time as my potential was tested at the time and it created the developmental stage for becoming an avid runner over time. 

What made the races in 1970s/1980s to be remembered.
It made an impact on me as I was able to see whether I was top ten for my age group race. All I wanted to do was to run a race where I could test myself with those of my age group athletes. I trained very hard for the races, especially when I was learning to take up running. 

In the past, from one a week’s training, I moved up to three times per week training at sec 3, and consequently trained 6 times per week at least in sec 4. 

The reason for me to train hard was to move up from 50 over individual position in the National Schools’ Cross-Country race to top 3 position.

The races as I could see in the past, was done in such a way that there were three to four heats. After running the race, a number of schools were eliminated with 18 schools left to compete in the finals. 

The organization of the race was such that even though the school did not enter in the finals, the  top 10 athlete runners of the heats were allowed to enter the race by moving forward of all the teams that are about to run in the race.  

I got excited when my name was called to come to the front, in front of all the school teams lining up to run the race. 

In a race, in actual fact, there were 30 runners in front of the 18 teams to run in the race. Usually 6 teams per heats usually qualify to the finals.  Even though, my school was out of the finals in some races, I was very happy that I was called to come to the finals to run on that day of the race, which was usually 5 to 7 days apart. 

With this performance, I also was asked to run in the 5000m time trial when I was a sec 4 student.  I did 17min 31sec at that time. 

I also remember my brother, a year older than me, running in year 1976, where SJI was out of the finals. However, when he was found to be the top 10 individual in his heats, out of the rest of them in the three heats, he finally came in 7th overall in the individual section of the National Schools’ Cross-Country race. My brother was at that time a secondary one boy, while I was in primary six then. 

Hence, luckily we were able to come in top 10 in our heats as even when we are out, we could still enter the finals to win the races. I also remember my team-mates who did not come down during holidays to train. My friend Tan Eng Howe, my training partner at that time, and I were the only ones training hard. It was only after the holidays that my friends start to train for the National Schools Cross-Country race. Hence, running in the finals as the top 30 runners right in front of all the teams was a thing which had contributed for my development as a marathon runner and eventually a national record holder, without which I may have faded as a runner. Thanks go to the great organizers at that time. The races were run with great charisma and enthusiasm. 

Also, a good and favourable thing to do by the organizers to do is to make school teams that are not serious in training to be weeded out of the competition so that one could watch the schools that had really conditioned the athletes. It is good to watch the real challenging race.

Even my father, who came for my finals at that time was excited to watch the race. Nearly none were seen jogging and coming back.  This was evidenced by me. The race was a competitive as we didn’t feel ourselves being blocked by anyone In the finals of the race. It was all good teams and no weak teams seen. It was nice to watch this. 

This reminds me when I ran for Loughborough University, in 1992 and 1993,  as the university cross-country runner, where I could remember all 90 people in the league one race of the cross-country having a time of sub 33min for a 9.6km race. None did slower that this time at that time. It was very impressive. I was literally running fast from start till the end.

During the Nationals Schools’ Cross-Country race, I also saw better physique of the runners running in the finals as compared to the heats. In the finals, it was overtly seen that runners at the time were very well conditioned as it showed that only the fitter ones ran the race rather than the school sending the team and in the end this ensues in them blocking the good runners from performing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Saranniya - From Overweight to Champion

Saranniya - Fat to Fit to Fantastic

Picture 1 (left to right) - Anja Tan, Divya, Saranniya, Coach Rameshon, Avinash, Kannan and Brennan

Today, I ran and came in first in the teacher's race of Queensway secondary Cross-Country School's race. I had to run in the upper secondary girls level. While I ran and came in first, Saranniya did 13min 32sec and came in first in her race. Her sister came in first in the lower secondary division for girls. 

From 19min 28sec, for 1.5km in July 31/2011, Saranniya is able to do a time of 6min 32sec. I hope that this will inspire many to take up running and be consistent in training. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Greenville 5km Run - Ashley Liew - 1st in age group

5km Greenville Run Downtown race - Ashley Liew came in 14th overall and 1st for his age group category.

While studying in Sherman College for chiropractic practices and at the same time adjusting to training, Ashley took some time off to try and run a race at his area as a test of his running fitness. 

His training programme for now is more of a conditioning phase for the upcoming Gold Coast marathon 2013 which is still at a distant future. Hence, it is a good thing to just keep oneself in form  by maintaining some form of conditioning by running a minor race.

On Saturday, 19/01/2013, at 9am, he ran the 5k Greenville Run Downtown race. With some rain, which was unavoidable during the race, Ashley Liew ran and did 16m38s  for the race. In his age-group, he came  in 1st. When counting the overall position for men open, he came in 14th out of 1559 finishers. He recounted that the competition was more intense than running locally. He told me that 30 % of the race was hilly. This made him to do a slower time. He is aiming to run a 5km soon and subsequently do 10km around his region.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Stories On Waiting, a Waste of Time (Part 2)

Stories On Waiting, a Waste of Time

True stories on waiting-

By Marcel Sng

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. 

Barack Obama

Waiting is a waste of time -

Recently, a new runner just joined our running group last one and a month ago. As he does not want to be named, I will  call him John.

John just started training last month. I thought he wasn't a good runner because his workout timings were slow. However I was surprised by his improvement in his workout timings when I was training with him. I realised that his running technique had improved, and now he looked like a natural when running, compared to his ungraceful running posture just a month ago.

I asked Coach Rameshon about John. Coach explained his story in detail and I find that it is a very interesting story.

Coach Rameshon met John about 5 years ago, when he saw John wearing a T-shirt that said Coach Rameshon is the current national record holder and he is a vegetarian. Seeing this Coach Rameshon tapped him lightly on the shoulder and talked to him for a while before telling him that John is bearing the name of Coach Rameshon, himself. John's idea is to tell people to take up vegetarian.

Coach Rameshon met John many times around later on, and had many friendly chats but John did not approach Coach for training.

It was only after Coach Rameshon's athlete, Ashley Liew won the Standard Chartered Marathon 2012 that John decided to come for training, eventually

But because of his waiting for too long, John had wasted 5 years.  He could have asked for assistance earlier on. This did not occur to John at that time.  

Now because of his age, Coach Rameshon found that John is unable to do  certain strength tests, especially jumping and hopping exercises. 

Furthermore, John's successive failures in many races has made him lose self- confidence in himself. John is doubtful of doing sub 5 hours in a marathon even when Coach Rameshon assures him that he can do a sub 3.30-3.35 in a marathon, using optimistic prediction and his experience as a coach.

After writing a few articles on the topic of waiting, I really feel waiting has led to people wasting their age, time and potential.  To me waiting is not an option

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stories On Waiting, a Waste of Time

True stories on waiting-

By Marcel Sng

Waiting is a waste of time
I met a runner who joined in our 2.4km running improvement and fitness programme. He has been with us for nearly 3 months plus. I was told that he has been doing training for several years and was not able to improve the time for the 2.4km run time to below 14min. He is now 30 plus years old and reaching 40 in a few years time. 

When Coach Rameshon asked him on his training, the former asked the latter on what was the training in the past about. The newly enlisted runner told that he has been doing sprint training and was hoping that he could improve the 2.4km time. The athlete felt that the best way to improve the 2.4km time is to train speed. Thus, the athlete, all the more, felt that it is wise to train sprint training for several years. Coach Rameshon found that after doing sprint training for several years the athlete felt that he, at last, had to sought professional help in order to improve the endurance time, after losing all hope in running faster for 2.4km. 

When asked on why he did not seek help in the past, the runner told that he thought that he still have time to improve in running. This is what I call waiting. I feel that by doing this one's youth will go and body's ability to recover will not be as good when one gets older. 

What I believe is that time and tide do not wait for a person. It is good to do a very good time, especially at a very young age and not when one is older. Youth is the best time to do a very good time as one will not be prone to injury as compared to their old self. 

As for me, as the author, luckily I did not waste my time and I did a 8min 22sec for the 2.4km run test in school. I had to do a 9 months of structured training to do this. My previous time was 10min plus.
When I heard the story of this athlete, although he has been improving in running recently, I felt that this athlete could have improved much earlier if he had not waited and instead should have engaged professional help. What is supposed to be achieved in 10 years could be achieved in a year's time. We should expedite in progressing in our running time by cutting down our target to a  year instead of prolonging it for 10 years or more by simply waiting. 

There is a heavy price to pay for waiting. Time will not be in the hand of the athlete. Hence for me waiting is not an option!