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
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