If you were to ask someone who is new to running, “do you know who is a pacer?” Most likely, the response will be something like this,
The term pacing or the role of a pacer is not commonly known.
*Infact, the original term was pacemaker or pacesetter, sometimes informally called a rabbit, it is a runner who leads a middle or long distance event for the first section to ensure a fast time. Pacemaking gained much usage after Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway successfully paced Roger Bannister to break the four-minute mile for the first time in 1954.
In Singapore, Running Department runs many successful pacing programs including SCSM pacing program. Our pacing programs are not about fast time but about desired time, a full marathon in 3 hr 45 mins or 5 hr 30 mins, we have pacers for you.
Recently, two of the Running Department’s pacers Choo Chye and Cindy were interviewed by 938NOW Radio. So, if you are someone who wonders who these people are, what do they do, why do they do what they do and how can I become one?
Read on this curated transcript of the radio interview.
Interviewer: To sacrifice your best performance and take on the role of a pacer, it’s something quite magnanimous, as a competitive runner. So what made you take this on?
Choo Chye: Most of the time, the thing that really motivates me to be a pacer is when I can help people achieve their target timing. For a new runner, for them to complete a marathon with a certain timing is not that easy and it requires a lot of discipline. So it’s very motivating for me to see them finish in the timing they desire.
Interviewer: The marathon is not only demanding on the body, it is also an intense workout for the mind. From their personal experience, how should a runner take on this mental challenge of a marathon?
Cindy: Visualisation helps a lot. When you are training for a run, you basically visualise yourself at the 10km mark, 20km mark, 30km mark. So you see yourself going up a hill and you see yourself at the top of the hill feeling so great about being able to push past that slope. So I think visualisation is pretty important before a race. I guess you can apply it to your daily life as well, knowing that, this promotion is hard, this piece of work is hard, maybe family circumstances are hard, but if you can visualise yourself at the end of the road victorious, it actually helps a lot in the process I feel.
Interviewer : What is the most challenging marathon that you have done?
Choo Chye: I think the most challenging marathon that I have found are the ones’ in Singapore , because of the weather, climate and the route that we run which is quite challenging.
Interviewer: How did you get into all of this ?
Cindy: Three years ago in 2016, I actually sprained my ankle. As a runner, and runners are stubborn, I continued running and three weeks later I sprained it again and I knew I had to stop. I was very disappointed but wasn’t defeated. I still went for SCSM 2016 and tried to follow pacers, I didn’t want to lose sight of them but the pain was so unbearable that I had to drop out at 15km. I told myself that one day I will get back, so for the next SCSM, I actually joined pacers in their training schedule. Largely because of the training schedule, I managed to achieve my target timing for that race. In 2018, I decided to give back as a pacer at SCSM.
Interviewer: As a pacer, what do you do? Do you pace people during the race or do you train them for the race?
Choo Chye: To be pacing, there is 16 weeks of training. Throughout these 16 weeks of training, there will also be pacers that join us for training through the collaboration between Running Department and Under Armour.
Interviewer: You’ve mentioned the Running Department twice, what is it and how do people get in touch with you guys?
Cindy: Running Department is made up of likeminded runners who love running. We meet every Wednesdays and Saturdays to train.
Interviewer: So how did you get in touch with them?
Choo Chye: I got in touch with them through Facebook. I liked their Facebook Page and got to know them. Running Department has been pacing SCSM for the past 7 years, you can get in touch with them there. Look out for their Facebook posts and you can join us for our weekly runs held on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Interviewer: Is there a fee involved in all these?
Choo Chye: No, it is free of charge.
Interviewer: So where do you run? What’s your favourite place in Singapore to run? Do you just run the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon route?
Choo Chye: Depending on the training day. If it is on Saturday, we will be at Parkland Green, East Coast Park. On Wednesday, it will be at UOB Plaza. From there will go all the way to Gardens By The Bay East and back.
Interviewer : For the training regimen, how long is the route? Up to you or unless somebody keels over?
Cindy: For the Half Marathon Pacers, the entire training is 12 weeks. For the Full Marathoners, it is 16 weeks.
Interviewer: Do you watch what you eat?
Choo Chye: I am not really that watchful about what I eat. Normally I eat what I want. I am not a very serious runner, I run to keep fit, I am not hard-core to that extent.
Interviewer : Cindy, do you have a regimen? Do you watch what you eat? Or everything in moderation?
Cindy: Not really. I love my Mala and my Hai Di Lao.
Interviewer: For someone who wants to get in on the sport or who is perhaps on the fence, what do you tell them if they want to pick up running, call the Running Department first? First and foremost, friend them on Facebook and then come down for a session?
Cindy: It may seem very intimidating but it is actually not. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook, just come down to one of the training runs. There are many people who run at different paces, just find a pace that you are comfortable with, join us, make friends, have a lot of fun and I can guarantee that you won’t regret your decision.
Interviewer: Say, I have a desires, perhaps one of the items on my bucket list is to complete the Singapore Marathon and I am not exactly up to scratch physically. What would you tell that person who is hesitant to perhaps get on board?
Choo Chye: Go and get a pair of running shoes and then head down to East Coast Park for a nice 5km run. You will enjoy the sea breeze, you will see a lot of runners there and you will be motivated by them and you will keep on going.
Interviewer: If I would to do this, I’d feel intimated. You guys are pros, you’ve done this time and time and again while I am just a chunky little fella trying to get into speed.
Choo Chye: Our group has different kinds of pace groups. So be it whether you are fast or you are slow, there’s always a group for you to join. You don’t need to worry about that.
Interviewer: What advice would you give someone?
Cindy: Everyone starts somewhere. I have a friend who could only run 1 minute and had to stop but eventually I have seen her build up this 1 minute to 8 minutes and now 15 minutes. Everybody starts somewhere, all you need to go do is just to get out, get started. However long you take, it’s your own progress.
Interviewer: What problems would you anticipate for someone who is perhaps doing marathon for the first time? When you ran the marathon, what problems did you encounter? Or you just say, “I am going to complete this 42km and in the end you didn’t stop?”
Cindy: When I first did my marathon, when I first started training for a marathon, I didn’t know what kind of training programme I should go for. Even if I go for long runs during my training runs, frequently there is a lack of hydration point, all these were very real challenges. So my advice would be to join a running club because usually you have very good support stations, good hydrations. Just like our runs, we have hydration every 1.5km, which mimics the actual day race conditions. Get the support system you need and then train hard.
Interviewer: For someone starting out, what would your advice be?
Choo Chye: It is always difficult to run alone. I think for someone starting out, it is good to join a group of runners. It is best to have friends to run together with you, they can motivate you. If you cannot find any friends (to run with you), go follow Running Department in Facebook and Instagram. We are like minded people, it’s like a big family, fun, so you can just come and join us.
If you like what you read, you can hear the full recording of the interviews in the links below:
The Breakfast Club with Keith De Souza (938NOW) – 27th November 2018
The Champions Mind with Paul Sng (938NOW) 5th December 2018
Now, If you are interested to be a Full Marathon pacer for our first-night race pacing project, please click here to sign up today!
This Pacing Life and a Chance to Pace awaits you!