An Interview with Marie Choo: Running for Rescue Dogs

We end off this week with a feature of Marie Choo, The Dog Alchemist! She gave up living the high life of luxury brands and fashion, just because she was compelled to give back to the society by not only contributing at dog shelters, but also starting up her own fundraiser and charity organisation!

LIV3LY: Let's start off easy. Tell us more about yourself!

Marie: I am a retired PR professional who used to own and run my own boutique PR agency, specialising in fashion and luxury lifestyle sectors. These days, I wear many hats as a part-time lecturer at LASALLE, a dog behaviourist & trainer by the name of The Dog Alchemist, a newly certified fitness trainer by ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association), and an avid runner who runs to raise awareness and funds for rescue dogs in Singapore.


LIV3LY: When did you start running, and what kept you going?

Marie: I started running in April 2014. I literally did a ‘Forest Gump’ because I was at the crossroads of my career. I have evolved as a person over the years and my interests have shifted into helping rescue dogs and leading a simple life. So, my job as a PR professional was causing some internal conflicts in me as I worked with luxury brands and had to entertain at high society events. My work required me to be in the social scene and limelight as part of my job. I thought running will take some stress away and give me the clarity that I seek, so I started running to avoid falling into a depression. 

What got me going in the beginning was my neighbour Ab Facey. She was right there at the start of my running journey and introduced me to Running Department. She signed me up for races, gave me advice and even ran with me even though she was way faster than me. She was there and still is here for me at most of my key milestones in my running journey, such as my first full marathon - Tokyo Marathon 2015. 

These days, what keeps me going is my mission to use running to raise awareness and funds for rescue dogs in Singapore. Running is not easy for me and when I feel that it is tough, I will dig deep and think about how life is much harder for the stray and abandoned dogs in Singapore. The less fortunate dogs always inspires an underdog like me to persevere and never give up till I cross the finish line.

On a personal level, it is my achiever’s mindset of wanting to challenge myself and push my personal limits so that I can grow to be a better and stronger runner. It also helps that I have the support of training partners such as Under Armour and TripleFit. I am very touched that these brands decided to work with an underdog and rookie like me, who is neither a talented nor fast runner, but just a very determined and dog loving person. 

I also want to give a shout out to Kenneth and Scott, my two friends who join me for regular training sessions. They are my FitFam since December and we call ourselves the “SquadTrio". When they heard that I have signed up for Translantau50km, they show their support by accompanying me on my trail runs and stair training. We will also motivate one another daily to do some sort of fitness activity as we talk daily on our whatsapp chat group. 


LIV3LY: We noticed in an article that you have signed up for a 50km race on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. How are your preparations so far?

Marie: I have started training in December last year. Preparations seems to be on track, with sessions on trail at MacRitchie and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I also do stair training at the Pinnacle at Duxton, in which I do repeats of ascending and descending 50 storeys. Apart from that, I started doing classes at TripleFit gym at Millenia Walk, to work on my strength and balance. I take functional movement classes such as Calisthenics and Pound.


LIV3LY: How do you manage to keep fit, work, have a social life and run a dog charity all at the same time?

Marie: Time is a rare commodity and we all know how hard it is to want to do everything in 24 hours. As a freelancer, my working hours are flexible and I try to fit in my training when I am not working. I adapt my training accordingly to the amount of free time available for training. If some days I am too tired or busy to run in the morning, I will run at night after work.

If I have a few hours in the afternoon, I will do stair training at a sheltered stairwell or attend a yoga class. However, some training days are fixed, such as trail running at MacRitchie on Saturday and hiking at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on Sunday, as well as Calisthenics class on Tuesday evenings and Pound class on Wednesday evenings.


LIV3LY: You were previously living the high life - having your own PR agency and working with luxury brands! How did running change all that?

Marie: I usually run alone on most days and my runs act as meditation sessions. I began to have more clarity about what I would like my life to be, which led to the eventual decision for me to close down my PR agency in June 2015 when I fulfilled all the contracts for my client.

Since my retirement from PR work, I could spend more time to do things that I choose to do, such as being a lecturer to final year Diploma students at LASALLE, taking on private clients as a dog behaviourist and trainer, pursuit of fitness by running on road and trail, working out and studying (I got certified as an ISSA Fitness Trainer a few months ago).


LIV3LY:  What will be the most unforgettable experience in your running life?

Marie: It would have to be when I completed my first marathon. One never forgets one’s first 42.195km. 


LIV3LY: Complete this sentence: "I run for…."

Marie: I run for my health, sanity and to raise awareness and funds for the rescue dogs in Singapore… and for January to March 2017, I RUN FOR SOSD.

Do head over to my website to support and donate to my cause!


LIV3LY: Thanks Marie! Your determination to do running, work and even run your own dog charity at the same time is such a commendable balancing act. We wish you all the best!  

LIV3LY Editor
LIV3LY Editor

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