2136 // workout motivation

My canoe team has developed this series of so-called “mantras” that we yell at each other during training to encourage each other. I noticed I quite a few people I follow seem to have made working out a new year’s resolution, so I decided I would post some of my favourites here as kind of “fitspo” for you guys. Also, for those of you who may not lead such active lifestyles, I feel like the quotes can still apply to you. The whole point of a sports mindset is to work hard and give it your all, which can be applied in basically every area in life. 

I did my best to make them pretty! But please note that I’m artistically challenged. Also please ignore the very visible watermark.

That’s a canoe classic. “You’re stronger than you think”. This is most often used when we’re running long-distance, and it’s meant to encourage us to push ourselves. Don’t be afriad to run that extra kilometre/mile, don’t be afraid to add that extra weight to your bicep curl, don’t be afraid to feel sweat dripping down your back and don’t be afraid to push yourself until you feel like your arms, legs and lungs are dying  and you’re ready to swear off exercising ever again-  because no matter how close you think you are to your limit, you can always push that line just a little bit further because…

…it’s all in your mind. Every time you want to give up, remember the only limits we have are mental. Your body can do anything your mind tells it to do. This quote basically means that any time you feel exhausted or ready to give up, you just need to tell yourself…

Sometimes it’s the simplest phrases that pack the most punch. I will forever remember the first training I attended after I got back from a two-week exchange trip with my school and was super unfit. After about 5 km, my arms were about to die, and my stroke technique was deteriorating by the second. Then, from behind me, I heard my friend saying: “Kai, don’t give up!” with such conviction in his tone that I turned around to check who it was. It was (obviously) a teammate of mine, and he was one of the fastest guys in my team. He soon overtook me but because of that tiny sentence, I felt 100% more motivated to finish my set and finish it well.

I feel like this isn’t so applicable to people who just do light exercise to maintain their weight or stay fit, but for athletes and people who are really into bodybuilding or something this is a really good thing to keep in mind when y’all are training. If we don’t push ourselves, we’ll never improve. Plus, #traininsane is a great hashtag. 

So yeah! Keep it up at all my fellow humans, it’s worth it in the end. 

I’m volunteering at SCM tomorrow, so more on that soon.

1447 // exercise and effort


Recently I’ve really been losing motivation at a horrendous rate. I’ve played sports almost my whole entire life (netball for seven years and I’ve been in canoe for one and a bit) and I’ve always taken naturally to an active lifestyle. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t wake up at 7:00 a.m. at least three times a week during the holidays to get ready for training, and now I have to get up at 7:00 on Saturdays, too, because of canoe.

I think this is probably a really common issue faced by a lot of amateur sportspeople out there. There’s always this sense of being initially super pumped for training and improving yourself, but after a while, you kind of hit this “wall” where you don’t seem to be making any significant progress and you start losing the drive to train hard.

For me, as a person with very low physical and mental stamina, training becomes a chore real fast. I start dreading the mornings, dreading the days I have to hit the gym even though my muscles are still aching from all the rowing I did the day before.

I attribute part of this problem to the fact that I am a person that picks things up relatively quickly. Maths concepts, books that are hard for people to understand, different sports. Whenever I start out something new, I make really fast progress for a while with minimal effort, but then after I hit the point where natural aptitude doesn’t matter any more and real, hard work has to come into play, I tend to give up. Which is why I am currently, from being one of the fastest in my team, now one of the slower ones. That’s why, when my juniors join us in a few weeks’ time, I’m going to tell them that it doesn’t matter where they’re starting from: whether they have experience or no experience, whether they’ve been in sports before or not, whether they’ve even exercise before or not. Because it’s not about where they’re starting from, it’s about how much effort they’re willing to put in.

Canoe is an incredibly demanding CCA, even in the highly competitive landscape of Singaporean sports CCAs, and I have never experienced such intense physical exertion during trainings in all my short life. In the past year, I’ve run more, sprinted more, sweat more and come closer to dying than I ever did during the seven years I played netball.

But I’ve also learnt so much more. I learnt that the body is capable of almost anything the mind tells it to do. I’ve learnt that, with a strong and bonded team, running 11km under the scorching sun becomes somewhat more bearable. I’ve learnt that you’ll never regret pushing- you’ll only regret not trying hard enough.

Still, I’ve really been losing steam. Hopefully some of you guys can sympathise with me. I’m really going to try harder, because I feel like I’m really letting my team and my juniors down if I don’t push myself to get better and better every day. Plus, my coach has put us on a food ban, meaning that we now have extremely restricted diets, and the lack of sweet drinks in my life is taking a toll, man, it’s taking a toll. But I really want to be able to stick to it. Wish me luck guys.

“It comes down to one simple thing:  How bad do you want it?”

More thoughts about training.

When you join a sports CCA (for the non-Singaporeans, CCA stands for Co-Curricular Activity and they’re basically after-school activities. Most Singaporean students participate in at least one), you’re basically making a commitment to do your best for your team and your school. So those people that don’t put in effort really need to step up their game. I understand that training is tough, and to be honest there are loads of better things you can do with your time like study or hang out with friends, but when the whole team is working their ass off to make sure we don’t disappoint our:

a) Team
b) Coach
c) Selves

I really don’t understand what makes people think they have the right to slack off and not give 110% in every training.

There’s a huge difference between being good at a sport and working hard for a sport. Since my netball days, my coaches have always told my teams that they never cared about how good we were, only about how hard we were willing to work.

There’s a guy in my team who could be so fast if he wanted to, but he just misses way too many trainings to the point where his technique is honestly really bad. If you aren’t going to commit and contribute to the CCA you’re in, what’s the point of remaining in it? How can you look around you and see your teammates putting in everything for their sport, and continue to put in so little effort to better yourself? I get it if canoeing really isn’t for some people, and I’m not one to judge people that quit the CCA because I understand it’s really very taxing, but if you’re going to remain in the CCA, it’s kind of expected that you put in some work, y’know?

When one of the guys left the CCA, we found his paddle in the shed and realised that he hadn’t paid money to get a grip for the shaft. My friend took one look at it and said, “he literally put nothing into canoeing. Not his time, not his effort and not his money”. Which was pretty true, but he quit so at least my coach wasn’t wasting time and we weren’t wasting a boat on him.

Just some random thoughts. 

I can’t wait to start sprint trainings. So far it’s just been mileage (meaning that we go for really long distances to build endurance for the marathon instead of training our sprints for racing) and I absolutely hate mileage because my endurance is really bad. I die at about 6 km. My sprints are much better, but still not that good. My secret dream is to paddle in a K1 boat for competitions, but considering my lack of experience and how competitive that category is, I think I’ll be in a K4 crew boat. Which is okay by me, at least I still get to paddle!