Dogged determination

Marie Choo runs to beat stress and raise funds for pooches in local shelters.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Marie Choo runs to beat stress and raise funds for pooches in local shelters.
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Two years ago, Marie Choo never imagined herself running, let alone completing a marathon. But an ad hoc run in a desperate bid to overcome work stress turned out to be her impetus. Within 10 months, she’d trained herself to take part in her first marathon. The 39-year-old tells Shape about her whirlwind training and newfound mission to help less fortunate dogs. 

● I fell in love with running because… It’s my form of meditation. Through the quiet moments of running alone, I realised that work was the source of my unhappiness. Last year, I mustered up the courage to wind down my public relations company to pursue new interests, such as becoming a dog behaviourist and trainer, as well as a fashion school lecturer. 

● To motivate me to keep running… my neighbour signed me up for my first race – the Mizuno Wave Run – in August 2014. As a beginner, the 15km race was tough as it had lots of terrain. I stopped many times to walk. But as I crossed the finish line, I felt an immense sense of achievement from knowing that I had the courage to start and the determination to complete a race. This was how my running addiction began. 

● To improve my running… I signed up for a few other races in 2014, and increased my running frequency and distance covered. Soon, I sustained injuries from overtraining and was disappointed when I didn’t achieve my ideal timings in races. My self-confidence plummeted and I beat myself up for not being good enough. As a birthday gift, my neighbour signed me up for the Standard Chartered Half Marathon. I ran without expectations and focused on enjoying myself. That my husband and friends congratulated me with flowers and cold drinks at the finish line made it a whole lot more memorable. 

● My first marathon was… The 2015 Tokyo Marathon in one of my favourite cities. To spur myself on, I attached a charitable cause to my goal by raising funds for Dogs Owners Guidance Support (D.O.G.S). I am the founder and driver, and we assist various dog welfare groups, independent dog rescuers, and dog owners. Friends and supporters donated to show their encouragement, and I used the money to buy food for over 100 dogs at a local dog shelter. 

● My proudest running moment was… Completing the Standard Chartered Half Marathon in 2015 while recovering from food poisoning. Due to stomach cramps and fatigue, I did not clock a good timing, but I’m happy that I didn’t give up. A fellow runner told me: “It’s easy to run fast under good conditions, but it’s an achievement to complete a race when things aren’t going well.” 

● My best running advice is… Be brave enough to take the first step, and an amazing journey will follow. Don’t worry about being too slow; everyone has to start somewhere. 

● My current goal is… to continue raising funds for needy dogs by taking part in the Gold Coast Marathon in July and the New York City Marathon in November. 

You can make a donation at http://www.facebook.com/marie.choo.39