Latest TODAY column: Running on plenty
I RECENTLY started to exercise again. The final straw was my wife asking me to move, because my stomach was blocking the wind from the fan. Like I was some beached whale, blocking her feng shui.
That was the moment I knew I had to get off my butt and get back into shape.
One moment, you are a lean, mean 60kg in National Service (NS), able to do the 2.4km run in nine minutes. The next, you are a tub-of-lard middle-aged father who drives to the market, a five-minute walk away.
My good friend, M, offered to help me. The guy had gone through the same need-to-get-back-in-shape phase some years ago. So, he knew what needed to be done. I have seen his Teletubbie Identity Card photo, so I know he is telling the truth.
Running on plenty
I recently started to exercise again. The final straw was my wife asking me to move, because my stomach was blocking the wind from the fan. Like I was some beached whale, blocking her Feng Shui.
That was the moment I knew, I had to get off my butt, and get back into shape.
One moment, you are a lean mean 60kg in National Service, able to do the 2.4km run in 9-plus minutes. The next, you are a tub-of-lard middle-aged father who drives to the market which is a 5-minute walk away.
My good friend M, offered to help me. The guy had gone through the same need-to-get-back-in-shape phase some years ago. So he knew what needed to be done. I have seen his Teletubbie Identity Card photo, so I know he is telling the truth.
He even wrote down some goals for me, like by Week 2, run two rounds around the track without stopping. Week 6, complete a 2.4km run. Week 8, do the 2.4km run within 13 minutes, which was supposedly the timing for passing IPPT for guys my age.
My goal was simpler. “Don’t die young”.
Even my dad was sympathetic. He said, “These days, your generation a lot more stressful than our time, I think. That’s why so many of you got heart problem, high blood pressure, and hair loss.”
Thanks dad. I feel better already.
I am driven by very simple needs. Like to be able to push my son, Isaac, around in his toy police car for more than 3 minutes, without gasping for breath and having to pick up my lungs from the floor.
Or to pick my daughter, Faith, up and walk more than 5 metres with her.
We went for our first session at a university running track. My wife was really proud of me. She had been nagging me about it for so long, and now, her husband was really going to take that first step to fitness, and to not needing to suck his stomach in so often.
There were many people at the track that day. The National women’s rugby team was having their practice there. Two little girls, sisters who were no older than 7 years old, were training under the watchful eyes of their coach (and I think their father). And then there were a couple of Aussies whose arms were thicker than my thighs.
All these people were fitter than me.
We got changed in the toilet, which smelled like teen spirit. I tried to avoid the brownish muddy-looking stuff on the wet floor. When I changed into my running shorts, my white-as-boneless-Hainanese-chicken legs recoiled in horror as they saw daylight.
M, on the other hand, had no such problems. Though the same age as I am, his buff body meant that he did not need to cover anything up (except his bottom half lah). He ran without a top on, covered only in his glistening sweat and the dragon tattoo on his right arm.
Before anyone starts misunderstanding my attention to a guy’s bodily detail, I shall move on to the rest of the story.
M taught me and another (fitter-than-me) friend, Cowboy, how to warm up. This was so that inconvenient things like a hamstring snapping will not happen. And also so that my wife will not need to roll me off the bed the next morning from the cramps.
He also gave us a very important piece of advice. Do not run faster when you see any girls.
Then we ran. The Aussies overtook me. An Ah Pek walked passed me. And then the two little sisters left me sucking in their dust.
But that’s ok. It is a start. Slowly. One day, I can run without my T-shirt on too.
mr brown is the accidental author of a popular website that has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997. His wife looks at his NS photos wistfully.