Thursday, September 18, 2014

Imran - Finally realising his potential after a 2 year wait.

Imran sprinting to the finish at the POSB Run 2014

Imran was one of the earliest to join our Flexifitness Programme. He used to run much slower, more for weight loss than performance. Of the three who joined us first, Ranjith and Weizhen were faster than him and he used to do short 2.4km kind of runs or 6x 400m or the most 8 x 400m kind of workout. He usually comes late and comes for our programme tired.

However, there was this something in him that made him to keep coming for our programme. He dropped at least 6kg and at the same time was looking forward to improve the 5km timing that was a great challenge for him. As others have been doing 17min to 30min, in our programme, generally, he was aiming to do at least a 30min.

He shared with us that it was last year October that he did 45min for our time trial and he was very determined to at least bring it to 42min and then to 40min and then aiming to do a 35min.

When he attained his 5km of 35min, he was more than happy to go for a faster timing and he did 32min before finally clocking in a time of 30min 29sec. We wanted to interview him but he told us that after his 10km in POSB Run, he will definitely answer our interview questions. He was aiming for a 70min for the 10km, else he felt that he was not worthy for an interview.

In the POSB race, he did a net time of 1hr 02min 12sec and made our team proud. He elated as he is now able to run well compared to his past of very slow running. Now, the slow running is all over and he would like to share his 15min improvement in 5km and his more than 30min improvement in 10km over a period of a year.

Let us hear from him.
Imran - Standing, extreme left, behind. 

An Interview With Imran - Story of a Big Value Add in running timing and of not giving up

Why did you join the Flexifitness running programme?

I wanted to keep fit - running was logically the first choice since it doesn’t require fanciful equipment, sparring partners, booking of venue etc.

When did you join our programme?

I joined the programme way back in November 2012. Initially, there were sessions where, apart from the coaches and school runners, there would only be very few of us, including the likes of Ranjith, Shireena and Wei Zhen. It is of course nice to have witnessed the growth of the group since I joined and to continue to meet a combination of young champions, fitness enthusiasts and competitive runners.

How did you know about Flexifitness?

Stumbled upon Flexifitness website when searching for running groups. When I emailed my enquiry, Coach Rameshon called me the very next day and when you receive that kind of personalised service, you know you have made the right decision.

Were you doing personal or group training?

Prior to joining the group, I was doing personal training only. It wasn’t easy to find interested parties to join me on my 11pm or midnight runs in the park connector near my place except for some bats and the occasional monitor lizard!

How has training with the group helped you?

The best part about training with the Flexifitness group is that the runners are always motivating each other. During time trials, just when I think I cannot carry on, I always hear Divya and Mariviv echoing “Jia-you” in the background. I am almost always the last to arrive for training given my work commitments and end up starting my runs just as the group is finishing theirs. Running alone is never easy, and recognising this, Coaches Ernest and Marcel have regularly taken it upon themselves to pace me despite having just completed the run with the earlier group. There is also a great deal of attention to the whole works, such as stride speed, Loughborough circuits, core strengthening, visualisation, hill training etc and it is not just about endless and mindless running.

How has your progress been?

My last race was in fact my first race, and I have commented on my performance in a separate interview. I have seen tremendous improvement in my 5km timings. From 44 minutes as recently as last October, it is down to 30:29. My vf has also reduced from an unhealthy 11 to 7.5 and I lost 7 kg in a space of about 4 months.

What is your next race?

No plans as yet.

Do you have any tips for improving fitness?

I am not an expert on fitness and my timing is far from fantastic. But I will share the 3 factors that made the biggest difference for me:

First, discipline. You must have the discipline to train consistently either on your own or as part of the group training. I was extremely inconsistent for the first few months and my running time didn’t improve. I repeatedly asked Coach Rameshon why my timing wasn’t improving and out of sheer frustration, I stopped coming for training for about 3 months. My weight increased, I was getting tired from the most rudimentary of tasks, such as walking up a flight of stairs and I then decided I had to put a stop to my slumber. With a renewed vigour, I resumed training late last year. I used to skip training as long as I was not able to leave the office in CBD by 7.15pm. These days, no matter how late I am, I still make it a point to come for training at least for a steady run. I have also followed Coach’s advice to go for steady runs during the weekends on my own.

Next, diet. A lot of people neglect the importance of diet. I was able to bring down my per km time from 8 minutes to 7 minutes fairly quickly, but hit a roadblock. It was then that I was recommended the book “Serve to Win” by Novak Djokovic. I delayed reading it as I first thought it was a book on playing tennis! I took away some of the pointers mentioned and substantially cut down on my gluten and sugar (mostly in the form of condensed milk) consumption. The change in diet helped me to finally break the 35min barrier for 5km and brought my time down both further and faster.

Finally, make each run about yourself only. When you focus on trying to be as good as the other runner, you are already setting an artificial ceiling as to how much you will improve. Worse, if you don’t reach the other runner’s level, you feel dejected and demotivated. By making the run about yourself, you are quite rightly removing all such inhibitions and barriers.

Do you have any long term goals?

I started off with fitness in mind, and I am toying with the idea of taking part in a full marathon at some point but only to strike it off the bucket list. As my overall pursuit is still fitness, I don’t have any time targets as of yet. I also hope that Flexifitness continues to grow from strength to strength and groom the next wave of young champions and competitive runners.