Strength Training – Where Am I Coming At Posted on November 7, 2018

By Rameshon

Picture 1 – I got myself selected in Manila SEA Games as I did 2hr 31min in Hong Kong Marathon, while later on Bala did 2hr 33min in Pacific Rim Marathon, also known as California International Marathon. 

After writing on my experience with strength training, many years till now, some may be wondering on how strength training can outweigh stamina training, or both can work side by side. 

When one keeps training and focus on increasing the training days and distance, for example, four days of training per week, and a daily run of 10km, the stamina will start to improve dramatically, as opposed to training for two or three days per week. The VO2 max (maximum oxygen uptake) score, a scientific term for deducing one’ s stamina score, may increase if one does 4 days of 15km per week, instead of 10km. The higher the distance, the higher becomes the score. One would see that he or she has the ability to do more mileage, there will be a corresponding increase aerobic power in running as well. Scientific studies, research and journals support this statement. 

Here, I would like to show Singaporeans and the world at large an example of a runner. Bala, was training with me as a training partner, and he was also willing to be coached by me. He was told to improve on increasing mileage to do well in marathon, as I saw that he had a mileage which was not sufficient, and he was training  like a middle distance runner, instead. Over time, Bala, kept increasing his training distance. Eventually, he even ran faster than me in Singapore International Marathon, in late 1980s, doing 2hr 35min, while I did 2hr 36min, and he got himself selected to go to California International Marathon. He did a time of 2hr 33min. He aimed for 2hr 26min. However, I did 2 31min in 1990 Hong Kong Marathon and I got myself selected for SEA Games in Manila, before Manila SEA Games. 

Here, it would be good some truth for validity sake and for officials who lost touch of the marathon scene in Singapore. Bala, was actually trained by me, as he has mentioned in an interview and it is in past SAFSA/SAFRA magazine. I think that there is a confusion in a coaching website on national record for marathon, which has been misleading the public. The coach, was not in the running scene at that time, I guess, as I can’t remember him coming for any Singapore races, to witness  a number of running events that took place, as he was holding other jobs, besides coaching, at that time. 

Goh Gam Seng was the National Record holder earlier, and Tan Choon Ghee broke the record to 2hr 34min. From there, the national record was broken to 2hr 31min, by me in Hong Kong Marathon. Bala later did 2hr 33min, as his hope to break to break the national record did not materialise.

It is good to clarify here that Bala has never broken the national record even once, for marathon men. There is absolutely no newspaper writing on this at all, as we know, and it is a fact. However, when I did a time of 2hr 31min, he was told by the then Singapore Amateur Athletics Association that only I can get selected and Bala was left out, as performance between him and me mattered, most to SAAA. As for me, I was only hoping that both could be selected so that we could train together.  However, for SAAA it was more on one who has done better. 

For your information, also, I can’t remember running with Bala, in Manila SEA Games 1991. In truth, Bala, has not run any SEA Games once. However, Bala did run in Asian Track and Field Championships, for 10km track race, with me and we were together in the same hotel room in Kuala Lumper.

We were asked to prove ourselves before SEA Games by Mr Lim Jit Imm, the former SAAA Training and Selection Manager, at that time, for 10km track race, where there were 12 runners in the race, and SEA Games 9 gold medalist Ramachandran also was included in the race. While Bala came in 12th, and I came in 10th. I was averse to this race, at first, but Mr Lim told me that he just wanted to see my standard before SEA Games. He did not put pressure on me. 

After not being selected in Manila SEA Games in 1991, Bala, came to see me and told me that he was very upset. He called up one or two SAAA officials for them to put him also in the Manila SEA Games. His proposal to include in SEA Games was rejected flatly. 

Bala, however, later on, with advice from two people, started to train 30km per day. Over time, he started imposing on me to follow a program which actually came from an elite runner from Japan. I told him that the programme suits in Japan, and it was for an elite runner, who is taking up running professionally, and that the weather was cold or cooling, not here, in Singapore.

I tried helping Bala, but it was to no avail. After about 6 months of his own training, he went missing for a year and a reliable source told me that he got himself injured and had given up running. I knew the outcome, that was why I wanted to stop him from running 30km in a single run per day, as the terrain that he was running was also very hilly. Injury was inevitable. Over time, Bala, was not even seen run anymore. 

However, one can see that Bala, when he did 20km per day. he did 120km per week for his mileage for marathon training. Bala predominantly did mileage runs to have moderate success in running. 

Here the story of Bala is to show how he improved his marathon time by increasing mileage and the training was predominantly long runs, and not much speed and strength training. However, over time, Yvonne Danson, introduced me to two runners from MR 25 Club. Later they came to me for training, and the runners could only do like 10km per day, and sometimes 15km on alternative days.

Pic 2- Dr Bala, an exemplary of continuity in exercising, Donald Ng (2hr 58m marathon) and Ernest Wong (2hr 37min) ran together for long runs, 15 to 25km, at least once a week, in the past

Dr Bala (PE Unit Head, NIE), not to be confused with Bala (2hr 33min – marathon best), also at times joined us in long runs. I told him to include strength training. One of the runner told me that his intention is to do a sub – 2hr 40min. One of the two runners did 2hr 37min and the other, a 40 year old plus runner, at that time, had joined me in training, did 2hr 58min for the marathon. Strength training was an important factor for them, as the mileage part was done and it was quite enough. An increase of strength was what they needed most. 

Pic 3 – Tan Mariviv’s record breaking feat in her race, 4.3km in Cougar Cross Country comes from Strength Training as well. 

Having said that, I would like to say that first and foremost, some strength training forms a basis of physical conditioning, prior to running itself. Later on, one should increase one’s muscular strength training, in terms of intensity, to the corresponding increase in mileage that one is doing during training. Over time, the mileage can increase more and more and it depends on how much time a person can expend time during training. It is, however, good to have a guide, a coach or a guide, or it can an experienced running friend, to correct one and change the methodology of training in order to avoid stagnation, injury, and in preventing one to avoid going in wrong direction in training, which retards progress. 

Edited by Tan Mariviv!