Looking back at my track record (linked in mileage in this side bar), I realised that it was 10 years ago that I first started running sustained distances of up to 10km in organised runs. I decided to get of my ass and challenged myself to get fit and reap a host of health benefits.
I was glad that at the opportunity for such a run at the 2003 Terry Fox run (in pre-revamped Sentosa), I had a friend to participate with me. He is a very seasoned runner, so 7km is chicken-feet for him while it was daunting for me. I tried to prepare myself though, and this involved walking/running the route in advance on my own to be physically and mentally ready for the uncharted distance and undulating terrain.
After that, the subsequent 10km runs became manageable. I have not signed up for runs longer than 10km because it usually gets very hot by then and also my feet would feel that they had enough. In recent times, I have not signed up for any organised run firstly because I’m tired of having to pick up a race pack (sometimes at Expo) in advance; secondly, waking up at 5am on Sunday to start a 7am run gets trying; and thirdly, I’m capable of my own runs at comparable distances free-of-charge.
Last week however, I signed up for a 7km run because it was rather different. The annual Great Eastern Women’s Run now has fringe activities and running clinics are one of them. For just $5, you can choose to take part in such a running clinic organised by Polar in the “Come Run With Polar” events at increasing distances of 3km, 5km and 7km.
I promptly signed up for the 7km run when I serendipitously stumbled upon it while browsing the Great Eastern Women’s Run for this year. It was perfect for me at a bargain as I’ve always wanted to cover running ground at Bishan Park.
I achieved all that, and got more than I bargained for because at the start of the run, I was informed that it involves fartlek training and running in stages together. Out of the window went my impression that the run would be at my own pace and completed under an hour.
Since I was already here, I may as well make use of this chance to go beyond my comfort zone and yield all the goodness that running magazines gush about since I would never bring myself to fartlek on my own.
The first 2.6 km was spent going in circles, for good reason. One portion of this circular route was on a landscape bridge where at stretches of 200m or so we did a mix of exercises such as lunges, squats, and others I don’t have a name for. One of which involved lifting my thighs in elaborate arcs to resemble something between climbing huge boulders and a dog marking its territory.
This part of the run was meant to be more intense than I allowed it to be. In any case, I know for sure that the exercise did what it was supposed to do because my thighs ached like they never had in a long time the next day. I had to brace myself to ascend and descend short flights of stairs at work.
The play and pause icons in the map tracked by runkeeper indicates where we stopped and started as a group, usually for a change of pace or exercise.
What no one counted on was to leave Bishan Park, although just for a short while, to climb the overhead bridge and do P.E. type exercises at the void deck across the road. Here, we did exercises to strengthen the back and core muscles. And yes, including the dreaded push-ups – I don’t think I’ve done push-ups since JC.
Having covered about 4km, we returned to Bishan Park for a longer continuous run along its length and made the 3rd stop near the end start/end point for a step workout. After the final 500m burst, we ended with arm exercises.
The whole workout was at no point intimidating. It was as bootcamp only as far as you allowed it to be. The instructor from Polar kept the atmosphere lighthearted and tried his darnest to humorously motivate the bunch of us. All in all, it was enjoyable and if this was organised on a regular basis, I’ll would sign up in a (resting) heart beat.
To top it off, I was one of the three lucky winners to fartlek away with a Polar Heart Rate Monitor at the conclusion of the event.