A unique training session with Shaharudin Hashim, Malaysia’s current #1 marathoner.
About two weeks ago and a few days before the Nike We Run KL 10K, I decided to join a training session held by a man whom I will henceforth refer to as Coach Din for short. If you’ve ever joined any road races in Malaysia he is all but a familiar figure on the podium, always bagging one of the top 3 medals (more often than not in 1st place) and cash prizes in the Malaysian Men Category. He has won the KL Marathon Malaysian title 7 times; this year he finished the 42km distance with a time of 2:42:28. I would be crazy not to take this opportunity to bust my lungs with the country’s best!
The training session was announced and excitedly received on the Chap Ayam Runners Facebook page and it was to be held at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa after working hours, so I braved the heavy torrential rain and even heavier traffic to get to the venue some 30km from my office. I was doubtful at first if the training was on since the weather was so lousy, but then I gambled and figured if I’m nuts enough drive out all the way to KL, Coach Din and the running group might just be as mad to continue with it!
Sure enough as soon I reached the park, a crowd had already built up. I sincerely did not know anybody, however I was aware that most of them were from the Chap Ayam Runners and TTKuda running groups. I asked a fellow runner where Coach Din was, and he pointed me to a small-built man sporting a moustache and track bottoms; he was carrying a little boy on his shoulders whom I presume was his son. Yup, it was Coach Din alright – I recognized him from the races where I had seen him do sprints as part of his warm-up routine. I went up to Coach Din and introduced myself and said hello, he smiled in acknowledgement and assured me that we would start the session shortly.
Since the rain did not relent, there was no way we could run out in the open, so Coach Din led us to a building which housed the badminton courts, which coincidentally was located next to the tennis courts. It was about this time that a man wearing a yellow Salomon X-Trail Race shirt approached me and asked where I had come from. I felt relieved that someone was friendly enough to ask me who I was as I was totally new to the group. I learned the man’s name, Ramlan, and that he was a designer at Universiti Malaya and a veteran runner of 20-odd years. Later on he invited me to come to the university some time to make use of its stadium and wide campus area for trainings and long runs after working hours. Sweet! I love making new running friends spontaneously like this – what more with a new playground for me to explore in the future.
There were about 45-50 people who were at Titiwangsa, ready to train with Malaysia’s fastest distance runner, more men than women, naturally. Coach Din instructed us to form 2 lines (boys and girls) and started to warm us up around the small covered course with jogging, back kicks, high knees, side steps, and even backward running! He was particular about loosening up our ankles so he also made us do sets of ankle-flicking movements while we jogged, as it were. I almost felt like a ballerina trying to balance on her toes, at this point.
After warming up, we were split into 3 different speed groups: fast, moderate and “lain-lain” (which was mostly made up of us ladies, hehe). Each group elected a team leader (mine was a friendly chap the others referred to as Latip) and the goal was to run circuits together as a team at the same time, given cues from Coach Din’s whistle-blowing.
The area in which we ran was not very big, furthermore we were running around 4 main brick pillars, some of us ran dangerously close to them as we took to cornering. At times Coach Din would stand at the pillars where he thought we were likely to run into if we got too gung-ho, just to remind us to keep a distance.
While all of this was happening, a lady named Sofia was snapping photographs of us as we ran, sweat, panted, laughed and cheered. I also befriended a fair twenty-something named Hanna; she apparently was also a first-timer at Coach Din’s trainings. She tells me she’s only picked up running since April, having entered the 10K at SCKLM in June, a 10K in Teluk Cempedak (she was wearing the race t-shirt) and then signed up for her first half marathon at the Penang Bridge International Marathon in November! I also met another young lady named Irma, who like me started joining race events from the Energizer Night(mare) Run in April 2011, later I learned she has already done 4-5 half marathons and even completed her first ever marathon event at SCKLM this year! These young bloods, I tell ya.
(Don’t mind me – I’m just amazed at how fast some people progress through the race distances – it took me a year and a half of joining 10-12K races before I could even bring myself to think about doing a 21k!)
After about an hour of circuit training and we had all ended up looking as limp and damp as that rainy evening, Coach Din proceeded to cool us down with stretching. He really believed in this and made sure that we did every stretch maneuver in his book. I am guilty of not practicing this technique after I run, so I picked up some good cooling down tips from this part of the training.
After cooling down, we did some group photo sessions – apparently the regular girls had a favorite trademark pose (the “ge-gurl” shots, as they called ‘em), so the few of us who were female sat down, flashed toothy grins and showed off our shoe threads as Kak Sofia snapped away.
Overall I enjoyed the training session very much by Coach Din and I am grateful for his sincerity and thoughtfulness to organize such a training session that is based on community spirit. I also made some new friends hence this will certainly not be my last training with the Titiwangsa running posse.
Photos by Sofia
Illustration by Ramlan
- Shaharudin Sets Sight on Marathon Record
- Shaharudin Hashim – Malaysia Current Top Marathoner (interview)