2020 was safe to say, not a very good year to most. Our lives were disrupted severely, we had to embrace new means of interacting with friends and family, and we lost the freedom to explore the world. For running, we lost a significant part of being able to participate in road races — and to many in the world, limited mobility to en exercise outside (thankfully we could still do this in Singapore). Anyhow, December is the season for some introspection before the new year comes about, and I shall recount the 5 things that I’m grateful for on my running journey in 2020.
#1: Progress is made by putting in hard work. Consistency pays off.
Other than the bouts of my injuries, I’ve managed to keep to mostly 50km weeks, which is honestly quite a feat because I’ve never done this before in all my years of running. The little bit of consistent training has allowed me to pull out PBs in 2.4km, 5km and 10km by significant margins.
2.4km (8.32 — Feb 2020 IPPT) 5km (19.11- Feb 29 Parkrun) 10km (40.33 — NN Marathon Strava challenge)
Of course, more needs to be put in if I were to eventually get a Boston Qualifier (BQ), but I’m overall quite happy that my body has kept up with the training so far. As I refine my training methods, I hope to be able to soak up ~80km on a weekly mileage which should bring me to a next level of fitness that I would not have accessed before.
It’s not about luck. It’s about hard work and a relentless drive for constant progress
#2 Running is about the community
Most of my running life thus far has been done relatively independently. Although I did join the running clubs at Berkeley and Yale, school work often meant that I couldn’t go for regular training sessions. Furthermore, without a proper training plan, my runs were not targeted to improve my performance.
Back in Dec last year, I first reached out to Justin after I was inspired by his sub3 at Ottawa. After he showed me how to go about doing some workouts, I was inspired to put in a bit more, and to find like-minded individuals to train hard together, working towards better performance.
In early March, in a leap of faith, I joined the Singapore Shufflers. Unfortunately, the COVID situation meant that I only managed to go for 2 sessions before we entered the Circuit Breaker. When we entered Phase 2, we managed to have small group trainings, and that really helped me to follow a structured plan, leading up to 5K time trials.
Special shout-out here to Anna and Dominic for painstakingly coming up with the training program, and organizing the logistics for many of our events!
Towards the end of the year, I was also part of the Pocari Sweat Run Crew. Throughout the 2 months, I learnt quite a fair bit of functional drills/techniques to make running more effective and training more targeted. Of course, more importantly, I got to know many more like-minded runners and friends, particularly my teammates from the Team Family :)
Of course not forgetting, the many runners that i’ve met/chatted with over IG — probably one of the reasons that you’re here looking at my post as well! Thanks for all of your frank sharing of experiences. Special mention to Yik Siong, Wen Sheng and Orlando — the folks that I’ve run the most with this year!
#3 Knowing how to deal with the downs (a.k.a. injuries)
Unfortunately, training is not always smooth, and fitness doesn’t only always goes up. This is particularly so when the body is overwhelmed and is injured. Unfortunately, I have had to deal with that twice this year — calf strains on left and right, each of which had put me out of productive action for ~2 months or so.
During the recovery period, definitely had to lay low, and know when to say no to training, incorporating cross training so that I didn’t feel like I was slacking off (basically I don’t think I can sit still haha). I definitely did a lot more biking after getting the indoor spin bike from taobao during CB (lunch crosstraining sessions ftw), and also the occasional swims (getting there — haha not that great a swimmer unfortunately). Also, definitely learnt to include more strengthening sessions in the gym. It’s still something that I’m making a conscious effort of — will get there soon hopefully 🙏
#4 SG Rediscover
Over the past few years, my routes were fairly boring (just the usual 5k ish route around my house). In true spirit of the SG Rediscover, I think I’ve added more variety to my running routes.
a. Marina Bay/Gardens by the Bay East/Stadium loop (~12km)
b. Pandan Reservoir (6.25km loop)
Other routes that I’ve went to (though not so much on a regular basis because of its relative inconvenience) include ECP, MR and Punggol.
#5 Virtual Racing
This will in all likely continue to feature strongly until life goes back to normal, and be complementary to the old format of road racing in the new normal. It definitely helped me with being motivated to go out for a run on some sluggish days when work consumed me 😅
So what’s next?
As much as we are hopeful of the efficacy of the vaccine, I unfortunately don’t think that borders would open quick enough for travel to resume by the time New Taipei Wanjinshi marathon would happen on Mar 21 2021 (which was the last marathon that I had signed up for in 2020, deferred entry to 2021).
That said, couple of races/Time Trials (TTs) that I hope to be able to achieve new Personal Bests up to March 2021 to keep the motivation high:
a) Annual IPPT (target late Jan/early Feb)
b) Shufflers 5ks, 10k, 21k TT
As I’ve also been recovering from the recent calf strain, I will be giving the MAF (max aerobic function) method a try. In essence, keeping my runs to within the max HR of 180–28 (my age now). Hopefully this will help reduce my likelihood of injury, and allow me to train hard on the interval days with the Shufflers better.
Thanks for reading up to this point. As always, I’ll be sharing my thoughts and progress/weekly snippets on my IG @hansenorun . Please give me a follow if you would like to share in a runner’s joy of training :)