A Q&A Session on Running with National Marathoner Soh Rui Yong

National marathoner Soh Rui Yong, 24, is no stranger to the local running scene.

The runner, whose personal best for the marathon is 2 hours 24 minutes and 55 seconds, had recently shared some running tips and sportingly answered runners’ questions during one of the weekly running sessions organised by the ASICS Running Club Singapore.

Here are some of the questions and highlights of what Soh had shared with the ASICS runners.

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A group photo at the Asics Talk with Soh Rui Yong (Red shirt, standing, 2nd row, 7th from left)

How is running in South East Asia as compared to overseas?

Said Soh, “It depends on where you are running. For training, most South East Asian countries are hot and humid.”

But he pointed out also, that in Indonesia the weather tends to be cooler and drier, mainly because runners there train at altitude and not at sea level.

Soh however, added that in terms of running races, running in cooler climates may be more preferable.

He added, “For example the Singapore Marathon is a nice home race but it is hot here. At the Gold Coast, the weather is good for running; generally in cooler climates, the body is less dehydrated and so you will be able to run faster.”

Your training has brought you to many places. What is your favourite?

Said Soh, “I like Flagstaff in Arizona, the United States. In the summer and fall seasons, it is a nice place; in fact you can a completely different trail everyday there for two weeks – that is how much variety there is.”

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Going for a short run before Soh’s Q&A session.

But at the same time he also pointed out that winter time is not the best time of year to visit Flagstaff for a run. This is because there is very thick snow which makes it quite hard to get in a decent run.

Added Soh, “This makes Singapore an ideal place to run, as you can literally run for all 12 months of the year. In other cities like New York City and Chicago, the winters are very unforgiving, meaning that you can be stuck running on a treadmill for three months in the year. So I would still rather be based here in Singapore, compared to anywhere else in the world.”

What are your main training sessions like – as a marathon approaches?

  • Four weeks out – 5km of warm up followed by a 16 mile (25.8km) run at marathon pace
  • Three weeks out – Easy long run of about two to three hours (about 35km). Said Soh, “For this, I run at an easy pace. I suggest to runners not to exceed three hours of running no matter what their pace is, as being out there running for too long will exhaust the body.”
  • Two weeks out – A 16km run at marathon pace followed by a 3-4km cool down. Added Soh, “At this stage if I am doing track intervals though, I will do them at 5km pace. My tempo runs at the start of my marathon cycle will be between 5km to 10km. In the middle of each marathon cycle will be about 20km and at the late stage of the marathon cycle I will be running 25km plus at my target marathon pace.”
  • Final Week – Track intervals, 4x400m at 10km pace and eight laps of the track at marathon pace

How and when do you taper for a marathon?

Said Soh, “I taper about three weeks before the marathon, Many people however, think that tapering is about relaxing but you will get fat if you keep on eating but don’t run.”

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Yours truly with Soh.

He added “In actual fact though, tapering is about cutting down volume but still doing marathon pace workouts so that the body does not forget the pace. For example you can run 25-27km at marathon pace three weeks before your race, and 15km at marathon pace two weeks beforehand.”

Soh’s general rule is that you should be running about 100 per cent of your target mileage about four weeks before the marathon. Three weeks out cut this to 95%, two weeks out reduce this to 75% and one week out you should be running 70% of your target mileage, and then the week after that should be your marathon race.

Do you do weights?

Said Soh, “I go to the gym once a week but I focus on core exercises and workouts.”

As he is still managing his plantar fasciitis injury, Soh also does 20 minutes of calf raises barefooted on a staircase, amongst other calf and leg strengthening exercises.

What is your diet like?

Said Soh, “Personally I do not pay close attention to my diet. But three days before the race, I will be loading on carbs such as pizza and pasta. On the other hand I cut down on beer, fried foods and burgers.”

After all, Soh’s analogy is that you do not want to be carrying “junk calories” when you are running the marathon as this will increase your chances of screwing the race up.

He advices runners though, in the days leading to the marathon, to eat what they are familiar with. Said Soh “Do what you have been doing. If your body is used to rice and veggies and you suddenly have a pasta meal before a race, the body may rebel. So do try pasta before your training runs, if you intend to eat it the night before a race.”

He added,  “But for me, having pasta is generally quite safe though.”

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Enjoying the evening run.

Have you thought about the next South East Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur?

Said Soh, “I have not started thinking about what to do after Chicago. I took one week off running and haven’t thought about competitions yet. I am thinking about my options and what can come out of it, but I definitely plan to be ready in August next year.”

For the time being though, Soh has been training, and combining this with his new job at the Singapore Sports Council.

Said Soh, “I am waking up at 5am-6am to run and working from 9am-6pm. Then sometimes in the evenings I will do another run.”

“If I can run twice a day, then everyone here can run four times a week,” Soh continued.

Photos from Facebook/ASICS Running Club Singapore.

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