From Fat Kid to Endurance Athlete

Jeremy Ng, 32, used to be a “fat kid” who didn’t exercise – and he had weighed 106kg at one stage. But today, he’s an endurance athlete – with his sights firmly set on completing his first full Ironman triathlon.

Ng's Before and After photos.

Ng’s Before and After photos.

Persuaded by a good friend to take up endurance sports

Ng, who is the Assistant Manager for Sound, Video & Broadcast at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre, initially took up endurance sports after he was persuaded by a friend. Said Ng, “A good friend, who’s a pastor in Penang, had started running as a hobby and he encouraged me to join him for a marathon in Penang. He was telling me all about how it helped his congregation’s discipline and leadership – and of course, how they benefitted physically.”

Coming out of the water at Metasprint Aquathlon 2015.

Coming out of the water during the Metasprint Aquathlon 2015.

Added Ng, “I initially agreed hesitantly but eventually warmed to the idea. The hard part was signing up. It took a few months before I actually decided to sign up, but once I had registered, I knew I had to finish the race.”

In the five months of training leading up to the marathon, Ng lost about 20kg. Since then, he has continued to lose weight and today, he weighs about 80kg.

Started to entertain dreams of completing a full Ironman

It was also during this period of time, when he was training for his marathon, that Ng started to entertain dreams of competing an Ironman. He said, “As I was training for the marathon, I thought to myself, what’s going to happen after completing 42km? There was a point in my training – I think it was after the 32k Newton Challenge – where I had been confident of completing the marathon distance and wanted to see how much further I could push myself.”

This subsequently brought Ng’s thoughts back to his childhood days when he was watching Peter Reid on television wining the 2000 Kona Ironman World Championships. Said Ng, “Being a fat kid then, I had a secret dream to do an Ironman race one day, but I never told anyone. But suddenly it dawned on me that just perhaps, doing an Iron-distance triathlon was a possibility.”

Plunged into the triathlon scene

So after the completion of his marathon in Penang, Ng then plunged into the triathlon scene – and soon got addicted. That had been in November 2014. Said Ng, “I love the triathlon community. It was after starting to train for triathlons that I met like-minded people. As much as triathlon is considered an individual sport, there is a certain camaraderie amongst triathletes – from watching out for each other during open water training swims and riding on open roads, to discussing the best training methods and deals for equipment.”

Riding at the Metasprint Duathlon.

In cycling leg of the Metasprint Duathlon.

“As a sport, the many technical aspects keep it interesting. Now I not only have to think about running – the process of improving my swim and cycle techniques add to the fun,” said Ng.

Didn’t make it to the start line of the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman

He completed a few sprint distance Aquathlons and Duathlons as preparation for his triathlon debut, which was supposed to be the Putrajaya 70.3 half ironman on 5 April this year. Unfortunately though, Ng didn’t make the starting line – due to a car accident during his final cycling training session before the race.

Said Ng, “I was doing my last recovery ride before the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman race and taking it easy – in fact, my family was riding with me at East Coast Park before the accident happened. Then after packing the wife and kids into a taxi, I rode home as I always did. While crossing a traffic junction with the lights in my favour, a car came out of nowhere and smashed into the front of my bike. There had been another accident across the road and the driver was distracted by that accident.”

That had been only five days before Ng was due to take part in the Putrajaya 70.3 Ironman. Added the triathlete, “The first thing that I realised was that I couldn’t move my left arm but I was hoping deep inside that this didn’t mean I would miss the race which was only five days away. Then I realised that my bike was smashed up.”

Running at the Metasprint Aquathlon.

Running at the Metasprint Aquathlon.

It was a very long ride inside the ambulance for Ng, with his brain playing out all the possible scenarios of how he might be able to take part in the race in five days time. He explained, “Even at the A&E, I kept asking the doctors if it was possible to race that weekend but the X-ray eventually concluded that my scapular (shoulder blade) was fractured at four different places and I would have to be immobilised under further consultation with a specialist. I went through stages of denial and anger – it was painful not to be able to race after months of hard work and training.”

But Ng was reminded again of his priorities when he thought of his wife and kids at home. He said, “I had to be emotionally strong and recover quickly for them.”

Took six weeks to resume his training

It took him about six weeks before Ng could even resume training – by climbing stairs. It was eight weeks later when he started running again. Today, he is still in the process of recovery physically – doing regular physiotherapy to improve his range of motion and strength in the injured shoulder.

The triathlete added, “I’m much better mentally though. But I don’t think I’ve totally gotten over the incident yet. I still triple-check the roads while crossing on foot, even with the lights in my favour and I drive much more carefully now.”

Not managed to get back to actual cycling yet

He has not managed to get back to cycling yet, though. Said Ng, “I’ve been itching to get back onto the bike! But I have not gotten back onto the roads yet though – my wife got me an indoor bike trainer for my birthday recently and I have been training on that.”

Practicing Transition techniques at a Triathlon Camp by Journey Fitness Company.

Practising Transition techniques at a Triathlon Camp by Journey Fitness Company.

Added Ng, “I think the biggest challenge of going back onto the roads again is assuring my wife and kids that I will be safe and doing everything in my power to stay safe. Even my four-year-old daughter sometimes tell me out of the blue that she doesn’t like me to go cycling because she doesn’t want to see me hurt.”

To begin with though, he will be riding along dedicated cycling parts such as East Coast Park and Changi Coastal Road, to get back into the feel of actual cycling. He added, “Eventually I will have to start training on hills and I will have to ride with people my family trusts and I know are safety conscious.”

Swimming will be the hardest to return to

Swimming will be the hardest challenge for him though, because the injury had been on his shoulder. The triathlete added, “I tried swimming once last week and everything felt different – my shoulder felt totally stiff and weak. It’ll be a while before I can get back to my usual swim fitness.”

Journey Fitness Company has helped him

He added that his training sessions with Journey Fitness Company (JFC) have helped him tremendously though – especially when he had been injured. Said Ng, who had joined JFC in October last year, “Especially during the period I was recovering from my injury, the encouragement from the JFC community and the coaches really improved my morale – listening to their personal experiences really helped me as a new runner and triathlete.”

He continued, “I have also learnt to train smarter and race better. From simple things like getting enough sleep, to more technical aspects like transition techniques, the coaches’ input have been invaluable. Before training with JFC, I was just putting in endless miles of training; going on the assumption that more training would translate to better results – which led me to getting injured eventually.”

Looking forward to the future

And Ng is definitely looking forward to getting back in full swing in the next couple of years and his next race will be the Sundown Full Marathon, which takes place on July 5th.

Weekly Tuesday Fartlek with Journey Fitness Company.

Weekly Tuesday Fartlek session with Journey Fitness Company.

He added, “Given the short window of training after the accident, I will be running Sundown Marathon very conservatively. I am also hoping to do a 70.3 by the end of this year and hopefully a full Ironman distance within the next two years. And in the meantime, I’l be working on doing a few Full Marathons just to get used to the distance – which is length of the run at the end of the Ironman triathlon.”

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