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My Experience As A True Beginner Runner by Chong Ting Chow

Although I have been a Pacesetters member for the past 10 years since1977, I was never active in running. Back then, the purpose that I joined the club was just to render my support for its noble cause in promoting running as a healthy sport, particularly to Yew Leong who was very active in the Central Committee.

I must say that there was no short of encouragement from friends and the club, but I never did start active running. One of the main reasons was that after each time I ran, I experience ankle and muscle arch the next day. And, due to the very low level of fitness, I always find running very exhausting and can’t last a good distance. Also not helping was the fact that I have never had any good experience in running. Even back in the school days, I remember how I have to struggle in the cross-country event each year.

As such, consciously and unconsciously, I have concluded that my body was not built for running. I do not have the gene of a runner. In short, I cannot run. Yew Leong however has a different view. He said: “Everyone can run! All you need is good discipline and some training.”

Chong on a typical Saturday morning

And so, I ended up on 6th May 2006, one Saturday morning joining runnersmalaysia’s session for beginner runners at the Bukit Aman Car Park, Lake Garden. I must admit that one of the motivations to learn is that I wanted to be able to pace my son in the Pacesetter Bonding Breakfast Run each year, which I have never failed to participate.

The talk by Dr. William Chan that morning was very informative. Although Yew Leong has commented that my ankle and muscle pain was due more to not enough running, the statement from a professional that our muscle and joint will take some time to adjust to this regular exercise somehow gave me more assurance to overcome the phobia.

After the talk by Dr. William Chan, Yew Leong explained the interchanging walk / jog routine covering a distance of 3.4 K. Using a hand drawn map, he detailed, the portion of the distance that we need to walk and jog accordingly. This has somehow helped me to set the expectation and goals for the morning.

The 1st day was though. I have to struggle to complete the walk and jog routine, particular for the second part of the jogging which involved a longer distance. However, with strong encouragement and pacing from Yew Leong and Jamie, I completed the 3.4 K following strictly to the instructions.

After the run Jamie gave a few tips on running shoes. I now understand a little bit more about the types of shoes, whether it is Motion Control, Stability, Cushion or Racing, and how to buy shoes that is more suitable to protect my feet.

As explained by Yew Leong, to achieve the 20 minutes of non-stop jogging in 8 weeks, one would need to practice another 2-3 times a week on their own which I did covering a shorter distance of 1-1.5 K around my house, each time increasing the jogging distance. As I practice more often, not only that I don’t feel the ankle and muscle pain anymore but I began to enjoy the good feeling after each run.

By the 2nd Saturday, I was able to complete the 3.4 K with more ease and increased the distance that I have to jog. I find the incremental approach in the walk / jog program very effective. Each time that I have broken the non-stop jogging threshold, it gives the confidence and drive to go further.

In the 3rd week, with some determination, I was able to complete the same distance with only one walk and the rest jog. And by the 4th week, I have gain enough confidence that I ran the 3.4 K distance non-stop ahead of the 8 weeks target prescribed by the program, feeling a great sense of achievement.

The other key success factor was off course the constant support and encouragement from Yew Leong and Jamie.

I have to skip the session on the 5th week Saturday because I went to Ipoh with my family. Not wanting to miss my run, I woke up early that Sunday to run about 1.5 K around the hotel while my family is still sleeping.

On the 6th Saturday, Yew Leong took me to a longer route, up Cacosa hill and return, covering a distance of about 4 K. I finished the distance non-stop jogging. It gave me the confidence that I can now go on to do the 5 K without any problem and the thought that my son need not wait for me to catch up with him in the next Pacesetter Breakfast Bonding run make my imagination run a little wild. Yew Leong however advised to keep to the 4 K distance for the time being, not to take things too far at one time.

I am glad that I have joined the beginner runner’s program conducted by runnersmalaysia. I am now in my 50s. Since I started running more than 6 weeks ago, my level of fitness has improved a lot. There is no sign of any injuries. I can sleep much better and this is a very good way to destress. The only complain is that I tended to eat more because of the better appetite. I can’t agree more with Dr. William Chan’s comment that running offer more benefit than the risk of injuries that you may face.

At the end of the 1st session, Jamie’s friend, Justin Lee, gave a quote from a famous coach, Bill Bowerman, which is very inspiring. He said: “Running is an absurd past time upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning in the running that you do, chances are you’ll also find meaning in another absurd past time…Life.”

I am beginning to find a lot of meaning in my runs…

Thank you runnersmalaysia!

Chong Ting Chow
28th Jun 2006


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