Go the Distance!
By Tim Wee
August 12, 2013
56 years old
SAFRA Running Club Committee Member
Michael Ong is a lifelong runner. Having developed his running passion since his army days, Michael’s passion for running knows no bounds as he currently serves as a committee member with the SAFRA Running Club.
Thus, it is no surprise that Michael will be running his tenth SAFRA Singapore Bay Run (SSBR) come 1st September. But, he will not be alone. This year, he will be joined by his two sons who will follow in their father’s trail.
We managed to have a sit down with this running enthusiast as he shares his thoughts on long distance running!
Qn: Hey Michael, thanks for meeting us. So, let us start off by asking you how did you get into running?
Michael: Well, it all started after I finished National service and decided to stay in shape. I continued running even during my reservist and it stuck with me ever since.
Initially I started off as a short distance runner. But an ex-colleague coaxed me into long running. The first time I wasn’t too confident and didn’t feel too comfortable. Still I tried it and never regretted it.
Qn: What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to long distance running?
Michael: The two key factors in long distance running are body conditioning and mental strength. It is recommended that you progressively increase your running distance. On top of it, you should be running regularly, about three or four times a week.
That will help condition your body. Don’t expect to be a miracle runner and only run on the actual day! (You will kill yourself! ha-ha) It’s not fun running without proper training.
Qn: Being a marathon veteran, how do you keep yourself motivated when in training and during the marathon itself? Is there any special running tip that you wish to share with our readers?
Michael: I think it really helps to run in groups. Being surrounded by people either ahead or behind you, there will be a mental motivation pushing you to train well.
In addition, it’s important to run comfortably. If you had trained, that will be a piece of cake. Also, do make sure your speed is comfortable enough for you to breathe adequately. At the end of the day you are running your own race; don’t take the risk of pushing yourself unwontedly and then collapsing. Instead, join a running group like SAFRA running club to learn more about these training programmes.
Qn: Do you have a favourite running route?
Michael: There are a lot of nice running route around SAFRA Mount Faber Clubhouse. One of my favourite is the running trail from SAFRA Mount Faber Clubhouse to the Labrador Coastal Walk. You have Reflections, Keppel Bay Marina and the sea. It has a beautiful sea view and is breezy most of the time.
The scenery is never the same, as it changes with the high and low tides. By the way, I used to live by the sea. So, that’s the reason why I love coastal areas. It reminds me of the wonderful times when I was young. So, this is one of the beautiful routes.
There are plenty of roads to run around Mount Faber, you get to test yourself on steep and even roads. You are spoilt for choices I must say. You can even run to the Esplanade if you wanted to. So it is never boring, as you’ll never run the same training route. There is also Telok Blangah hill for resistance training. All these different terrains will make you a stronger runner. So, you can run any race. It is not just training for SSBR, but it goes beyond that.
Qn: How long have you been with SAFRA Running Club? And why did you choose to join this particular running club?
Michael: I’ve been with the SAFRA Running Club for 7 years. The reason why I chose to join the club was because I ran my first full marathon and it was terrible. As a first time runner, I was quite happy with what I achieved without a proper training guide or an experienced trainer.
Training is always an issue for runners. You never quite know how to go about in your training. So, you tend to run in the same place which can get quite boring. Running with a group on the other hand, there is always a training programme which the trainers have carefully planned. You don’t have to worry about anything; you just have to turn up. The programme is very important as it progressively prepares you for the race. It is gradually building your strength till the race day.
And, SAFRA Running Club is not an elite club. We welcome runners from all ages. Come and mingle around. We are a close knitted family. In fact, I also have my two sons who are both running club members. They are both taking part in this year’s SSBR. In fact, one of them has actually volunteered as a pacer this time around.
Qn: As representatives of the SAFRA Running Club, can you tell me what does SSBR mean to you? Do you feel proud of SAFRA's efforts to foster a local running culture?
Michael: I think that SSBR serves as a prelude to other marathons. It is a very good checkpoint for runners to determine how far they are in terms of their marathon training. The other thing about SSBR is the festive atmosphere. The race is wonderful and it is one of the well organised marathons around. SSBR is one race in which many of the runners that I know are hoping to achieve their best. So, this is a well-publicised event. I would say that it is a race that many people are looking forward to.
As a runner, I think that it is good that SAFRA is promoting the running culture locally. It is good to inculcate a running culture to the youths. So, the race is something for them to look forward to every year and to an annual fitness benchmark.
Qn: So, why should people sign up for SSBR in your opinion?
Michael: I think that signing up for the race means setting a goal. Once you set the goal, you will most likely be motivated to go for training. So, it encourages you to run and you know you have something to look forward to.
The other thing is that you will start asking your old friends to join you and it serves as a good bonding experience. I have noticed that more members make a comeback as the race approaches. Most might have been absent due to outside commitments, but when the race day nears they are always back to foster the running bond.
If you wish to learn more about the SAFRA Running Club, click here for more info!
For more information on SSBR, please visit the official site here!