Finding Life In Running: Interview with Melvin Wong
Being the first Singaporean to win a medal for the adidas King Of The Road 2012 race, coming in 8th at Powerman 2009 (Elite) and several 1st places in various duathlon and triathlon, you might think this athlete’s got his whole childhood revolved around running and swimming. But data analyst, Melvin Wong, had humble beginnings.
In order to achieve an IPPT Gold Timing in his army days, Melvin started running seriously and regularly with his army buddies as his motivation. In university, he joined the Aquathlon Team in 2005 because he was embarrassed of not being able to swim. Gradually, he found a footing in triathlons after gaining swim confidence and running mileage in 2006 and was part of the Selection Squad for the 2007 SEA Games Duathlon. After a series of training phases with coaches and training partners, Melvin gained confidence in triathlon racing and that’s where his adventures begun. We had the privilege to speak with him and he was more than happy to share with us his experiences and tips.
1. What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running? Specifically running long distances?
Running is somewhat like a reward/ rebate associated with credit cards. While most folks will be tempted to sign a card with that 1-5% rebate on their purchases, I will be tempted to go for a run because of its “rebates” too. I will be mentally refreshed and recharged after a 15km run and will be pleased that I have clocked 15km under my running bank now (to meet my competitive needs somehow).
As a competitive runner, the long runs now serve as a great motivation to build up my “running bank” so that I can move up the next notch. Hence, that itself is already the most rewarding thing about running, especially longer distances. Some people may feel “addicted” to running for various health and personal reasons. This sentiment is definitely shared by almost everyone I know, including me.
2. Can you give us a glimpse of your weekly training schedule?
On a typical week, there will be 4 main run sessions evenly distributed throughout the week. I start off with short intervals on Mondays, some core-related work on Wednesdays, pacing repetitions on Fridays and top it off with a long run on Sundays.
3. You know you've had a perfect run when:
No Matter what happens during the race, I will be smiling widely when I cross that finish line!
4. Coming in 6th place in the adidas King Of The Road 2012 (1st Singaporean) is very rewarding. Describe your training process. How do you prepare both mentally and physically for the KOTR2012?
Coming into 2012, I was pretty uncertain of what will unfold as I had a few key events going on with my In-Camp-Training, some overseas races and my Wedding Day! Moreover, I was unsure how the residue fatigue from a successful triathlon season in 2011 was going to affect me. After some lackluster performances at the opening few races, I decided to re-group and sought advice on reviewing my training. Upon which, I had an opportunity to work with Fabian William and identify the gaps in my training in May 2012.
I like the training process to be dynamic with a sound structure supporting it. There will always be certain training stages / phases in the entire cycle and it's crucial to establish and achieve the objectives in each stage.
My 2 weeks In-Camp Training was just before the KOTR race day so it was a minor bump when I wasn’t fully rested nor prepared when the day arrived. Physically, I was managing alright as I have a little base fitness from the training before the ICT. However, I was tired mentally (physically as well to a smaller extent) before KOTR.
I went into the race as an ignorant child, not knowing what’s there to expect at the end of the race. To me, this was a build-up race towards my eventual goal in racing the Asian Duathlon Championships at the end of the year. Hence, I just went in and ran what my body and mind could carry and never look back! The result was a surprise, definitely.
On hindsight, I would have done 2 things differently if time allows. Firstly, 16.8km is a unique distance with adidas KOTR that sets itself apart from the internationally accepted race distances such as 5k, 10k or 21k (half marathon). Experienced runners who dabbled with 10ks and 21ks may find it difficult to manage how he/she should race the 16.8km. It will be advantageous to incorporate a race-pace 16km effort into a long run day in the weeks leading up to KOTR. You may be surprised at the varying effort levels compared to 21km.
Next, I will mentally prepare myself and looking at the race route and identify key landmarks along the way. This will give me an mental indications like - I can push alittle bit more when I see the last junction just before turning into the finish area. This will keep your mind occupied about looking forward to the finish by stages and not worried about negative thoughts.
5. Rest is of utmost importance for all athletes to recover from running. What do you do on recovery days?
I will normally go for an easy swim or just an easy jog on the grass to recover on a weekly basis. I am definitely an advocate of active recovery because I have experienced the benefits myself.
6. Words of encouragement for the upcoming KOTR2013 participants?
“Running, one might say, is basically an absurd past-time upon which to be exhausting ourselves. But if you can find meaning, in the kind of running you have to do to stay on this team, chances are you will be able to find meaning in another absurd past-time: life.” - Bill Bowerman
The above quote struck me as I continue to run each day – that is to find meaning in life and in running. And I hope all the runners out do the same as they continue to prepare for the upcoming KOTR 2013 and other races.
The adidas King Of The Road Singapore 2013 is happening on the 11 August. Stay up to date by visiting the official adidas King Of The Road Singapore website.