When avid runner Guo Feng Leong made a pact with his girlfriend Darrell Loh to each come up with 10 new activities they could share, they committed all 20 to ice cream sticks and began picking them at random.
When Guo Feng’s suggestion to “complete a 10km run” came up in the queue, Darrell was at first horrified because she’s not a runner. But a deal is a deal and with Guo Feng’s help, Darrell not only started training but she signed up for NTUC Income RUN 350, Organised by Young NTUC on 10 April 2016 to hold up her end of the bargain.
How is this dynamic duo faring as the deadline approaches? Find out for yourself. Apologies to Guo Feng, but we hope Darrell beats him to the finish line!
What we asked Darrell
RS: You were horrified when Guo Feng suggested a 10km run — why?
Darrell: I always thought of running as a boring way to stay fit. My idea of excitement? Tennis, badminton and netball. Now, I’m having to work on my motivation, though Guo Feng can attest to the fact that I run fast when trying to catch a bus or beating him to the last ice cream in the ‘fridge!
RS: So you went from complete inertia to running 5 to 6km weekly to prepare for RUN 350? How are you doing?
Darrell: I was able to get started by making music playlists and mentally promising myself rewards if I completed short, 2 to 3km runs. I came to believe that taking small steps to achieve big goals is the only way to go.
RS: Did you make other changes in your life too?
Darrell: Yes. The biggest was finding time to run with my busy schedule, but I also make better food choices, hydrate more and sleep better. Running boosts my morale and energizes me. I’m even more efficient at work.
RS: Is there a reason you chose the RUN 350 specifically to meet the 10km challenge?
Darrell: The biggest factor was timing. The race comes after a major school deadline and around Guo Feng’s and my anniversary, so that adds significance. Also, RUN 350 gives me the opportunity to be part of a great cause: raising awareness about reducing our carbon footprint on Earth. It helps to have a good reason to run, right?
RS: How confident are you of finishing the 10km?
Darrell: Confident enough — at least the thought of this first race no longer scares me! I still have work to do but I’ve been increasing my distances, so I should be ready for the event come April.
RS: Would you like to share tips with readers who are about to run their first 10km too?
Darrell: Keep working slowly and consistently. It takes time to see one’s efforts pay off, so don’t give up. Count on people you love to help keep up your spirits. Guo Feng’s encouragement (notice I’m not calling it nagging!) helps when I don’t want to run. Loved ones can remind you of the reasons you started running in the first place.
RS: In addition to Guo Feng, what motivates you to keep going when you want to give up?
Darrell: When I’m exhausted and wish I was anywhere but on a park connector putting one foot in front of the other, I remember that I’m doing this to stay healthy, too. Getting ready for the RUN 350 has also helped me deal with school stresses. I’m soon to graduate and need all of the energy I can muster to cross that finish line, too!
RS: If you could turn back time, would you prefer that this 10km race be left out of your pact?
Darrell: Not really. Preparing for my first event has been scary at times, but I’m pretty excited. This will be a major accomplishment and running with Guo Feng is icing on the cake. So I suppose the answer would be no. That 10km challenge has benefited me in many ways, so I’m keeping up my end of our little deal!
What we asked Guo Feng:
RS: Why did you put that 10km challenge on the “10 things to do together” list?
Guo Feng: It started out as a challenge to find creative ways to spend more time together. When I started listing potential activities — places, experiences and foods I like to share with her — it felt natural to share my passion for running with her, too.
RS: Did you put down a 10km to make Darrell run or was the idea purely a moment of inspiration?
Guo Feng: Darrell thought it was my elaborate plan to get her to run, but it really wasn’t the reason the 10km landed on an ice cream stick. I love to run and thought it would be great fun to do it together.
RS: Any idea why Darrell didn’t take up running before now?
Guo Feng: Running requires motivation to get out of one’s comfort zone and there’s also the business of finding time in a hectic schedule like hers. Both Darrell and I have our hands full with our university commitments.
RS: Do you share your running routine and tips with her?
Guo Feng: I try to set a good example. Putting on my running shoes and clocking a certain amount of mileage weekly has become habit. Darrell had to get into the habit of making time to run. I try to motivate and encourage her so she knows I’m always here for her.
RS: What’s it like when you run with Darrell?
Guo Feng: To be honest, we have yet to run together due to our busy (and sadly, clashing) schedules this semester! We’ve trained separately so far. We’ll combine our training schedule in March to prepare for the RUN 350 together.
RS: If you were to add one more thing to that list of shared activities, what would it be?
Guo Feng: I would like us to travel to more places abroad. I think it would be nice if we could enjoy a nice romantic holiday together — away from our hectic schedules. After graduation. And after the RUN 350, of course!
Do you find it hard to schedule runs with friends or loved ones because you’re both so busy? Would you consider emulating Darrell’s and Guo Feng’s challenge and let us know how you fare?