[Read Part 1 here]
[Read Part 2 here]
Lately there has been quite a bit of coverage in the Singapore media about a few runners trying to beat the 2:24:22 Singapore marathon record. This includes the record holder himself, our 50 year old FlexiFitness Coach, M. Rameshon… but he is different. IMHO, this increased interest in the Singapore marathon record is partly the result of the 2016 Olympic Games where more than a few runners were trying hard to qualify by running under 2:19:00. I understand how Coach Rameshon feels though, as many are trying hard to beat the record but none has done it yet – he must also try to do it himself. Why not?
The difference is while the others are trying to beat the record, he is only try to beat his own personal best time. It has almost nothing to do with the record.
Any record is hard to beat. National records are much harder to beat. Period.
Singapore is a tropical country and it is hard to run a fast time when you are next to the equator. However, ‘national’ record does not necessarily mean it has to be run inside the geographic boundary of the country. It is, therefore, perfectly alright for an athlete to pick and choose the best time, place and event to perform the magic. Just to have all the stars and moons line up as perfect as possible first.
Another issue is that on the one hand, it is hard to do a great race time in Singapore due to the hot weather but training year round under the same hot weather is certainly an advantage! It is almost like a greenhouse, more or less even temperature year round, except this is God made ambiance.
There are totally no seasons/temperature/weather-dependent adjustments needed in training. In warm weather, tight tired muscles and even injuries recover faster and better. The saying among some runners was that the run time would be significantly cut down when running overseas in cooler weather. In other words, if someone can run/train well in Singapore, s/he can run well in most places on this planet. Coach Rameshon was born, bred and 99% trained here in Singapore before he made a name for himself. Overseas training may be just an overrated fad? It costs extra money though.
A quick glance at the masters male age group world’s fastest time in the marathon is indicated below:
Age 50-54 55-59 60-64 65-69 70-74
Time 2’19’29 2’19’32 2’36’30 2’41’57 2’54’48
Please note that all these are sub-3 hour marathons and historically only approximately 2% of marathon runners have managed to run a marathon under 3 hours.
Ed Whitlock did his 70-74 age group marathon record by running daily around a cemetery after his retirement from the work force. According to his media interviews, he runs a few hours daily but he does it without any technology; no GPS nor even a watch!! He just keeps going.
I remember when I was growing up in Hong Kong, it was common to consider people who were aged 60 years or above as OLD. Well, the life expectancy was shorter back then and longevity has been ever increasing since the middle of the last century.
Longevity aside, it is the expectations and quality of life that have changed. Working in my line of work, I am seeing people on a daily basis who are growing older slower than the recollection of my earlier memory. Nowadays people are simply growing older much later in life! With a better understanding of technology in health science, diet and exercise (medicine should be last in fact), people are functioning better and better as time passes. Age per se is more or less just a number.
For the most part of our contemporary history, athletes are supposed to be ‘amateurs’. In the 70s, a world famous long distance Olympic champion almost had his title stripped when he waved with his running shoes in his hand after he won his event because some questioned if he was ‘advertising’ for the shoe company! He was not or, no one could confirm it. However, this episode goes to show how serious the governing body was at that time about the status of an athlete as an “amateur”.
Since the 1976 Montreal Olympics in Canada, people have realized the importance of proper financial accounting even in ‘amateur’ sports. In order to host the Montreal Olympics Games, the city spent billions of dollars. To cut the long story short, the nice people of the great city of Montreal, Canada spent another few decades (way into the next century) to pay off the debt that it had incurred! It was only until the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Games that the organizer managed to, the very first time in history, balance the book!
Rumor was that in the 80s, there were reports of unrecorded cash payments for some of the world class athletes in their international events. Since the early 90s, the rules finally changed and getting ‘sponsors’ became acceptable. Advertising and marketing (Lance Armstrong even doped but that is another story…) became some of the tricks to increase sponsor interest. Money talks, bullshit walks as usual.
As far as I know, there are two methods for gaining media or sponsor attention. First, produce rock solid results. Second, talk! Professional boxers know this and they are way ahead of the game in the past.
Trash talk or just simply talking a lot about potential achievements on mainstream media and social media becomes a means for some to get attention and sponsors. Well, IMHO, it is the hard work that counts but nothing else. Hard work takes longer and more effort for sure.
When we watch track events, it is common to see that many winners look fresh while those came in behind look much worse. Obviously, it is the one who ran harder, faster and put in more effort who won but how come those who ran slower actually looked/felt worse?? IMHO, the slower finishers did not run their races, they tried too hard in vain to run the winner’s race! Trying to beat another’s time is much harder than running a ‘personal’ good/excellent time!
Well, seeing what I am seeing now. I would say, my uncle was right: ‘It is hard to teach new dogs old tricks’.
Just like many things in life, there are always plenty of naysayers. Don’t get me wrong, I believe many naysayers are honest and without ill-intent but they just could not comprehend some ideas. Pre-existing ideas are just too far ingrained into the DNA that it becomes hard to comprehend unusual ones. However, mind you, it takes absolutely no effort for naysayers to disbelief and be proven ‘right’. In order to prove naysayers wrong, the best way is to offer evidence but (and the BIG BUT is…) that requires a lot of work, and work, and work, and work. It is unfair, isn’t it?
However, if no one has really touched 2:24:22 since 1995, the next job is not done yet: Why not?