I was never a runner. Back in my school days, I played Water Polo. As such, when running, I literally felt like a fish out of water. I went so far to avoid running by telling my PE teacher that I would rather swim than run the mandatory 2.4km.

Intra-School Cross Country Events were the only times I ran in school

When NS came, I realized there was no way I could escape the mandatory runs. We ran every single day at dawn before breakfast and sometimes before dinner. After my trainee and cadet phase, I was posted to Paya Lebar Air Base as a commander. I had a new-found independence and flexibility in my schedule. Realizing there was nobody forcing me to run, I was ecstatic for a moment. But just a moment, because I realized I was now the one telling others to run. As a commander, there is no way your troops would heed your commands if you did not set a good example. And so, I had to run.

I ran three times a week. I would run a short 3km at the start of the week, 8km during the week, and end the week with a slow 15km run. I dreaded every single run that I went on. Every single time I ran, the only thing that kept me going was the thought of my troops watching me. I ran and ran, until a point where I realized I did not actually hate running anymore.

Running is calming. Running is liberating. Running is, to a certain extent, relaxing. When I run, I find the stress from my daily duties, the constant worry of an upcoming project and the nervous anticipation of a scheduled meeting dissipate. For a moment, it is just me against myself.

Competing in the Army Half Marathon was a painful but exhilarating experience

I found joy in running. I realized it was also because I was getting better and faster. I started off much slower than my peers, but through some perseverance became faster than them. I ran in the Army Half Marathon and had the fastest timing in my unit. Wanting to push myself, I registered for the Standard Chartered Full Marathon at the end of the year.

Completed the run with one of my best friends from school that I met along the way

Running a Full Marathon is so much more different than running a Half Marathon. Before the Half Marathon, the furthest I ever ran was 18km, and my adrenaline on race day pushed me on for the last 3km. There was no way my adrenaline could push me on for 26km. I had to increase the intensity of my training sessions, whilst keeping an eye on my pace and time. Bad runs were a cause for frustration, and over time, this amounted to stress. Eventually, I found that I no longer enjoyed running anymore.

On race day, I completed the Full Marathon ahead of my friends but failed to meet the timing I aimed for. I was disappointed, but ultimately relieved the Marathon was done. I told myself I was never going to do another marathon again, and that mindset caused me to stop running altogether.

Smiling through the pain after the race

Recently, while in Circuit Breaker, I had the urge to leave my house. The only way you can do it now is to go for a jog, which I did. During my jog, I thought about my experience running the Marathon, and everything that led to it. I reflected, and realized I missed the whole point of running. It was supposed to be a source for stress relief, but somehow it became a source of stress.

As I began to run again, I realize there is a lot I miss about running. What I missed the most, were the days where my friends and I would put on our running shoes together at 7am for a good run to start the day, before we head to the canteen to enjoy a cup of Kopi Ping. Good friends are what makes a good run, great.

Learnt to enjoy my runs more by exploring new paths!

If you are someone who is looking to get your running shoes on, make new friends and spread joy to others, Runninghour Co-op can be what you are looking for! Runninghour is a sports co-operative that promotes integration of persons with special needs through running. They have members who are mildly intellectually challenged, physically challenged and visually challenged joining them to keep fit.

During the Circuit Breaker period and even Phase 2 right now, Runninghour has virtual runs weekly where they gathered in small groups in two locations and observe safe distancing during the run. Some of the guides even organised small group runs with their buddies too.

Join Runninghour as a Running Guide today!

Source: The New Paper

“I don’t run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days.”

– Ronald Rook

This article was written by Tok Yin Jie, who is a first-year Accountancy and Business Undergraduate from Nanyang Technological University currently interning in SNCF, Campus and Youth team. He is passionate about travelling and learning about new cultures. He hopes to be able to make a change in society in the future