Breaking Personal Marathon Records with the F1 Runners Team

When they had first picked up running, neither Alan Chiang nor Liu Zhiyong had thought that qualifying for the prestigious Boston Marathon would have ever been within their grasp.

But now, after breaking their own personal running records on numerous occasions – thanks to joining the F1 Runners Team, coached by Lexxus Tan – both are just several minutes away from qualifying for the most elite and prestigious marathon in the world.

F1 Runners Team @ the Singapore National Games Stadium Run 2014. (PHOTO: LIU ZHIYONG)

F1 Runners Team @ the Singapore National Games Stadium Run 2014.

Said Liu, a 31-year-old auditor, “I managed to do a 3 hour 13 minute marathon at the 2014 Singapore Marathon, slightly less than six months after I joined F1 Runners Team. My immediate goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Based on my age, the qualifying time for me is 3 hours 5 minutes and hence I will be aiming to run three hours flat at the Gold Coast Marathon in July this year.

Has come a long way since joining the F1 Runners Team

Liu Zhiyong at the SCMS 2014. (PHOTO: LIU ZHIYONG)

Liu Zhiyong at the SCMS 2014.

Prior to joining the F1 Runners Team, Liu had been clocking a modest 4 hours and 30 minutes for a Full Marathon, so he has really come a long way since he had been taken under Tan’s wing.

Added Liu, “I had never imagined myself doing a three hour marathon and in order to achieve this timing, I am increasingly my weekly mileage gradually to 100km and will be checking back with Coach Lexxus, who monitors my progress closely to make any adjustments if necessary.”

Never thought he would be so close to Boston Marathon qualification

Neither did Chiang, a 30-year-old Assistant Manager of Corporate Affairs & Strategic Development, think that he would ever be so tantalisingly close to qualification for the Boston Marathon. He said, “My previous personal best for full marathon had been 4 hours, which was attained at the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2013. Back then, I did not follow a strict training regime, but more like trying to clock as much mileage as possible. So I actually did not expect myself to complete the Chiang Mai Marathon in 3 hours and 7 minutes.”

At the Chiang Mai Marathon, Chiang admitted that he had been aiming for a finishing timing of between 3 hours 20 minutes to three and a half hours. Added Chiang, “I wanted to go at an average pace of 4:45 minutes per kilometre, as I had done this pace for a couple of long training runs and so I thought it would be the most ideal pace to complete my Full Marathon. Never did I know that I would be so close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon with that timing.”

Alan Chiang at the Chiang Mai Marathon. (PHOTO: ALAN CHIANG)

Alan Chiang at the Chiang Mai Marathon.

Grateful for the help that Tan has given to him in running

Chiang, who has always been very sporty and used to be part of his school’s Track & Field team in secondary school, had joined the F1 Runners Team in June last year, is very grateful for the help that Tan has given to him in terms of his running. He said, “Lexxus has given me excellent guidance and advice to attain good running form and more. Not forgetting my fellow members at the F1 Runners Team too, who have been both motivating and encouraging. We work hard and have fun together, which are really important to improve.”

Added Liu, who had initially taken up running during his Junior College – to get fit enough to prepare himself for National Service, “The F1 Runners Team have helped me to improve on both my speed and endurance, which in turn, helped me to avoid injuries or pains which I encountered from long distance training in the past.”

Having a good race strategy is important to clock a personal best

However it is not only in full marathons that Liu and Chiang have made improvements. They have also shaved off several minutes from their 10km race timings. Chiang’s new personal best, for instance, is 39 minutes and 33 seconds. This was set at the Safra Army Half Marathon’s 10km event last year.

Explained Chiang, “It was through a proper race strategy that I managed to break my personal record for 10km – starting easy, picking up the pace in the middle section and finishing strong towards the end. It was also because of the strict training regime – at least three to four times of running in a week, with speed workouts, endurance training and running drills.”

Tips that Liu and Chiang have for fellow runners

What are some tips that Liu and Chiang have, for runners who are hoping to improve their timings and continue to break their own personal running records?

Alan Chiang runs to a new 10km personal best at the Army Half Marathon (10km Category). (PHOTO: ALAN CHIANG)

Alan Chiang runs to a new 10km personal best at the Army Half Marathon (10km Category).

Said Chiang, “For runners who are beginning to get into the sport, take it easy with each run. You may start with short distances of about two to three kilometres and go at a slow pace. And for NS-Men who are having trouble passing the 2.4km IPPT test, head out to the track and work on your speed and intervals. Just like the F1 Runners Team’s speed workouts, they help all runners to get faster with each session.”

Added Liu, “Consistency is key too. Keep to a routine as much as possible and follow a structured programme closely, if available. Also run with like-minded people with the same passion as you and you will receive plenty of positive energy. Finally, be disciplined and put on your shoes to go out for a run whenever you can. If you feel lazy, go for an easy run – this is better than sleeping in and completely missing out on the run.”

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