Yes, it sounds crazy, but really, I was desperate for a long run. But the choking haze had derail my weekly long run plans. The quality of the air is really poor. The PSI levels were at unhealthy levels. If I still insist on running outdoors against of all the advices by the authorities, there will surely be implications to my health.
The haze season keep making its comeback almost every year, due to the irresponsible behaviours of individuals and companies from our neighbouring countries. Despite the promises of them that things will improve, they still keep happening. Outdoor actitives were put to a standstill.
I will never stop running no matter what. One alternative is of course to run indoors on a treadmill, which I did. However, one thing about running on treadmills is that it is super boring.. huge respect to hamsters! However, a run indoors is better than no runs at all. It keeps me sane.
Other than that, the constant running on treadmill belts seemed to caused my old pains to act up. I do not know why, but it appeared I could be injury-prone when running on them. Some runners seemed to have the same issue as well.
After running on the machine for a few weeks and the haze situation had not improved, I decided to explore ways to see how I can run “Outdoors” while not breathing in the harmful particles in the air.
The Trip To Malaysia
One fine day, when my wife and I were in Johor, Malaysia for work. Normally when we made a visit there, we will surely visit their malls to do some shopping due to the huge price difference. As we were walking along the food street of the mall on the ground level, a lady zoom past us..
She was not a person aiming to be the first in line for a sale in the mall… she was running!! Yes, all dressed up in her sports attired and running shoes. This is the first time I had saw anyone jogging in a mall.
Mind you, Malaysia was suffering from the same fate as us. The air quality there was just as poor. To see this determined lady still persisting in the thing that she love, keeping herself healthy while avoiding the pollutants is a sight to behold!
I was thinking, this is a FREAKING AWESOME IDEA! Why not I do the same in Singapore?
Sourcing for a mall
The problem with local malls is that they are smaller and much more crowded than the ones in Johor Bahru. I manage to narrow down to 2 of the largest malls in Singapore, Vivocity and Suntec City.
To avoid the shopping crowds, I will definitely need to run in the early hours. Good thing that malls in Singapore are generally open very early to cater to the staff and office crowds. But how will the air be like? Is the air conditioner turned on so early?
I eventually decide to run in Vivocity. Without overthinking, I proceed to run there one day after I had made the decision.
Finally, It’s time…
I went there early and as expected, there were hardly anyone in the mall. The lights were dim but bright enough to see stuff. And to my surprise, the air conditioner was in full swing even at such an early time. So air will not be an issue here.
I started trotting away, running in circles in level 1. After getting bored, I started explore level 2 as well. It was freaking cold to run in a mall. I am used to run in the heat in Singapore but had never run in cold climate. But heck, as long as I can run, any weather will do.
After a few kilometres, staff from various shops started coming in to start preparing for work. Naturally, I got some stares from some of them. I had never saw anyone attempt this in Singapore before. I guess it’s the same for them. However, ever since I started the Youtube channel, I had mastered some skills of ignoring other people’s judgement. So on I go.
Will I Be Stopped?
After clocking in the miles and started to get use to the loops and the cold, I noticed the security staff in the mall. I was thinking if they will intervene and put a stop to my run.
Thankfully, despite their bemused looks, they did not get in my way. They allowed me to keep on going. I think they understand the situation outside and this is a person who is desperate to stay fit.
Then after I was nearing the completing of my run, the reception staff also started to come in. I was happy to get smiles from them. It was kinda of a cute interaction, like they were cheering me on!
It was a tough 21km
Running in circles for a good 21km is no joke. I got dizzy after a while, and wanted to give up halfway into my run. However, this was a once in a lifetime experience and that motivated me to persist till I had completed the full half marathon. I was running at a comfortable pace while admiring all the closed shops.. lol
Towards the end, there were more and more people, including staff and shoppers. Despite getting tonnes of stares, I had grown immune by then. I was so focused on accomplishing my goal of finally doing a long run that their stares no longer bother me.
And finally, I DID IT! I had freaking done a half marathon in a mall! And recorded the whole experience!
I was proud of the run and to a certain extend, in awe of myself for pulling this off…
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I am just a guy who is looking for a long run. Certainly a very memorable experience in my own country.