Never too late to run
Vincent Chua has found love in running and continues doing it at age 70.
Vincent Chua never imagined that one day he would be a runner, much less stick to a routine. He was keeping to a “casual” fitness programme initially with the occasional swim. “I felt lazy and I didn’t follow any other routines,” he explained of his past. However, all that changed when he got a wake-up call on a road trip to the US and Canada to visit family. While sightseeing on the trip, he got easily tired and found he needed to improve his physical fitness.
Upon his return to Singapore, he started taking regular walks at MacRitchie Reservoir and then those evolved to running regularly at age 58. He shared, “It was a spur of the moment decision to start running. And once I started, I gradually realised how much I loved it and continued running. Everyone has good and bad days, but I always have the motivation to get up and engage in running!”
Now at 70, he has been running for more than 10 years and has completed numerous races with distances ranging from 10km all the way to a full 42km marathon. His most recent races were the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in December 2022 and the 2XU Compression Run in April 2023. He also enjoys travelling overseas to participate in international events such as the Toronto Marathon in 2021 and 2022. He shared about the “runner’s high” (when you run, your body releases hormones called endorphins and these are the chemicals behind the term, which is usually short-lasting), which he gets from finishing races and is what keeps him going.
Vincent added: “Running is very simple. You just require a pair of good shoes and you’re all set. The feeling after a good run is unmatched and it also gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
He is also a member of a local running club in Singapore called the Running Department. He started joining its 10km runs and enjoys the company of other runners. He shared that it feels good when “fellow runners encourage you as you pass!” With his twice-weekly runs with the club, he usually runs at least four to five times a week. If with the club, he clocks around 10km to 12km but if on his own, he completes a 6km to 8km run. He shared he is fond of running particularly at the MacRitchie Reservoir as it is close to where he lives.
“When I go running, I meet a lot of fellow runners and supporters that I share a common interest with. It refreshes my mind and motivates me to continue running.”
In his early 60s, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he was concerned he might fall while running and would be at risk of injuries. However, he was determined to lead a healthy lifestyle. He did his research to find the positive influence of running on his condition and after consulting with his doctor, he decided to carry on with the lifestyle he enjoys the most. Fortunately, the progression of the disease slowed down over the years and he believes that running has played a huge part in this. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation in the US, research has shown that exercise can improve gait, balance, tremor, flexibility, grip strength and motor coordination.
Besides his routine with his running, Vincent doesn’t follow a strict diet but believes everything in moderation. However, when he participates in a race, he stops eating oily or fried food at least two weeks prior to a race.
He is already preparing for his upcoming run – the Income Eco Run on June 11, that is raising awareness on zero waste. He is aligned with this cause as he brings along reusable containers and shopping bags when buying food and grocery shopping. “I believe in the importance of sustainability and adopting a zero-waste lifestyle given the limited resources and space available in Singapore.” Through pledging 10km, he hopes to inspire others to contribute to a zero-waste cause. After this run, he is eyeing the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon in December.
Vincent encourages more seniors to try running or another sport. He shared that he has proven that age is just a number and it is never too late to start. He is also a shining example that with determination, he could include a regular physical routine into his life and has persistently kept at it for years. His favourite quote is “by taking part, you are already a winner” and he lives by it every single day.