My name is Randall, & this is my story.
I was never a very fit person in my younger days, being in the Science club back in Primary School, & Boys’ Brigade (BB) in Secondary School. It was still manageable as we had Physical Education (PE) sessions in school, & the physical activities of BB, coupled with my pubescent metabolic rate.
When I attended Polytechnic, things took a turn for the worse as I did not participate in any CCAs. All the good food in poly & no exercise ensured I gained weight & eventually hit a high of 69kg at my heaviest. For a 1.72m guy, it wasn’t a good thing. I recall taking my NAPFA test in my final year of poly, the one that decided when I would enlist into National Service (NS). I only managed to complete 5 rounds around the 400m track before the testers deem the rest who were still running as failed the test.
The Turning Point
This all changed when I enlisted into Physical Training Phase (PTP) batch in Basic Military Training (BMT) in 2008. People like me who enlisted in the PTP batch were people who did not get “Silver” in the NAPFA Test. Whereas, people who got “Silver” or “Gold” Standard would enlist in the Enhanced batch in BMT, which was two months lesser of NS.
I was very “fortunate” to have enlisted into a Warrant Officer (i.e. Encik) company. Why “fortunate”? This was what one of my Enciks used to say in camp. Indeed I was very “fortunate” under the watchful eyes of my Enciks and Sergeants in BMT, I started to enjoy Physical Training (PT). After the hardest PT sessions, the Enciks would always have an AAR or After Action Review, where they would sit the recruits down, & have a talk. These talks would often be casual, light-hearted, and carried a deep messages behind the layman terms.
The Enciks were inspirational, all had some sort of physical prowess of yesteryear. A sprinter, marathoner, a ultra-marathoner, & an Ironman. They instilled a great sense of being into me that still resonates with me till today.
I dropped 10kg at one point of time till I hit 59kg. I felt much fitter, & could run for more than 30mins at a go. At the end of BMT, I managed to run 10:08′ for my IPPT 2.4km run. This timing improved further after I was posted to OCS. I plateaued at 9:28′-9:30′ for a while till I was commissioned & posted to unit.
Ready, Set, Go!
In 2009, I was posted to the unit as a trainer, & a large part of my job was taking charge of physical training. This gave a huge motivation to improve further as I needed to be fitter & faster than my trainees. I would sign my trainees up for every single IPPT that was organised in my camp, & would become the rabbit for them to chase – this became a fortnightly affair. I treated the IPPT runs as part of my training, & ensured I ran as fast I could. I eventually dropped my IPPT 2.4km timing to 8:47′.
Training with them daily 5 days a week gave a huge fitness base, clocking between 15km – 22km just from the morning sessions. I would sneak another 20km from night sessions with my fellow course mates, and another 10km-15km over the weekend, for a total of 45km – 57km per week.
This mileage combined with the influence of my fellow colleagues who were race crazy ensured I signed up for every race possible. I discovered a sense of euphoria & was addicted to running or the happy ‘endorphins’ feeling that was released. Crossing the tape & finishing a race would be something that I was constantly looking forward to on a weekly basis.
Its been 5 years since I started racing competitively, & I have not looked back since.