For one runner, six years into the sport sees her conquering the 250km race distance. Her secret? Running in groups and high intensity interval training.
IT was only six years ago that Karen Chin Mui Yan, 35, decided to take up running. It was just jogging at first with her running mates, playing the role of the first runner or sweeper, to improve her fitness level.
She has always been active playing badminton and doing yoga, so running was another extension to her active lifestyle.
Never did she imagine, however, that six years into running, she would become a champion distance road runner, covering distances of up to 250km in one race.
“It started like just another exercise, to me. I like outdoor sports and I always like to improve myself so I took up running,” she says.
“But eventually, I learn to love running and I realised I can run long and that gives me the motivation to train and to try different distances,”
Last March, she completed the Titi Ultra, a 250km road race in Hulu Langat Batu 14, in Selangor, said to be the toughest road ultra marathon in Malaysia. She completed it in 41 hours and 30 minutes.
The route runs through a natural landscape along the Malay village Hulu Langat Batu 14, along winding roads and up two hills and a lake.
Chin works as an operations manager so that means her training time is limited. There is no limit to her will, though. She trains in the morning before work and runs at night after she got home.
“Runners have their support crew so they can stop for food and water. My friends are part of my crew, and they had rice, chicken, drinks and fresh shirt for me to change into,” she says.
She achieves her distance through her running group and the high intensity interval training classes that she attends three times a week.
“It’s done in a school hall led by a coach and there’s a lot of core exercises and full body workout. You cannot increase mileage just by running. I find HIIT very helpful in improving my stamina and increasing mileage,” she says.
Typically, she says, she goes to work at 7.30am and finishes work at 9pm, after which, she will still lace up her trainers and run.
“If you have a target, you will do it. That’s why having a running group is important. You are there to encourage each other achieve another milestone,”
Her weekend runs often take place in Desa Parkcity in Bandar Manjalara on at the trails in Kota Damansara. Sometimes she goes up Gunung Nuang to train.
Her running shoe? The Hoka One One Vanquish 2, which she used for the whole of the Titi Ultra race. She might have used three running shirts, but it was only this pair, she said, that could sustain the distance.
“When you are going for 250km, you don’t run for speed. You don’t look for lightweight shoes. But you look for a pair that’s stable and sturdy enough to carry you through that distance with tiring your feet down,”
“And this pair is that, and more,” she says.