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In Vietnam, running charms its way into young people’s hearts

Friday, June 03, 2016, 10:40 GMT+7

Despite different motives and backgrounds, more and more young people in Vietnam have turned to running as their sport of choice.

Over the last few years, running clubs have been popping up all over Vietnam, attracting thousands to daily and weekly runs hosted by the organizations.

Sunday Running Club (SRC) is just one of the dozens of clubs formed to meet the demand of runners throughout the country, welcoming over 3,000 members since being founded by Pham Thanh Tuan in 2013.

“This sport is what I call ‘pure beauty.’ It is extremely beneficial for your long term health and gives you the opportunity to meet supportive partners that can help remind you to stay away from things that can hurt your training, like beer and other alcoholic drinks,” Tuan said.

The group meets for their weekly training session every Sunday at 5:45 am at the An Phu urban area in District 2, though attendance varies based on each individual’s personal schedule.

Each member sets their own pace and target distance, such as passing 10 kilometers or 21 kilometers, based on their own health status and weather condition.

“Even though marathon racing, and running in general, requires no team support and there are opposing sides facing each other, it still cultivates a strong sense of community,” Nguyen Dang Khoa, 27, SRC member, said, adding that running with others has helped improve his own performance.

“People tend to be more motivated to keep running they are with others, helping them to reach and surpass their own goals,” Khoa said, insisting that goal-setting is critical to self-motivation.

“Currently, my goal is to participate in a running competition in Sapa [a resort town in the northern province of Lao Cai] this September,” he told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters.

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Members of the Sunday Running Club practice running on Sunday. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Different motives

According to Tuan, while health improvement is one of the main reasons why SRC has exploded in popularity, there are tons of different factors drawing young people to the sport.

Since joining the group with her husband, Vu Huong Anh, 33, has made it her goal to run through the forest in Nam Cat Tien National Park in Dong Nai, a southern province.

Anh said that she ran five kilometers on her first day with the club.

“I knew how to balance myself with yoga, so applying those skills in running has made it very pleasant,” Anh said, adding that she still needs to focus on strengthening her endurance.

“This is the first time I’ve taken running seriously. My goal is to lose weight with guidance from experienced runners,” Thanh Mai, 28, shared while doing warm-up exercises at Gia Dinh Park at 6:30 pm.

“You need to warm up carefully before and after running in order to reduce the risk of injury and relax your muscles,” Khoa guided Mai clearly.

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Members of the Sunday Running Club gesture in this Tuoi Tre photo.

Although she wanted to give up, encouragement and guided running techniques from more experienced athletes helped Mai reach 2.5 kilometers on her first run.

“At first I thought that running is simple, but I think I was wrong,” Mai said.

“Breathing techniques and proper running form play an essential role in supplying sufficient oxygen to the muscles and the brain to prevent dizziness and fatigue,” she added. 

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