Since coming over to Singapore from Australia just over a year ago, 36-year-old fitness manager, Carol Cunningham, has been picking up quite a substantial number of podium finishes and race wins.
Her latest achievement in the local running scene was her victory at the 32km Open Women’s category at the Newton Challenge last Sunday – which had been totally unexpected for her.
Didn’t realise that she had won
Said Cunningham, “I didn’t even know I had won until I crossed the finishing line and there was a ribbon there. So it was really surprising, as there were some really good and strong ladies out there, who run really well.”
The race didn’t start too well for Cunningham though. Rather than being at the front of the pack, she had actually started further back than she had been hoping. “But the support along the way was really good and that really spurred me on. I enjoyed myself, too,” she said.
Her successful race strategy
What was her successful race strategy? Said Cunningham, “I tried to take the first half a little bit easier and keep hydrated. This was a good strategy for me, taking a lot of isotonic drinks and a few gels. In the second half, I picked up the pace,” she said.
However, despite her victory at the Newton Challenge, Cunningham remains humble about it, and says that she has simply been really lucky to win. “Maybe I am on a lucky streak. That’s the truth – there are some really good runners out there,” she said.
Wins $300 worth of Newton products
For her efforts, Cunningham won $300 worth of Newton product vouchers, together with plenty of other product samples. “I’ll use the vouchers to buy a new race pack and some shoes – I need some new shoes!” she said, and added that the prize was pretty generous of the organizers.
Was placed second at The North Face 50km trail race recently
Besides her win at the Newton Challenge on Sunday, Cunningham was also placed second in the 50km category at The North Face (TNF) trail race, a challenging trail race that took place a couple of weeks ago.
Cunningham attributed her good placing at the TNF race to her love for trail running. She said, “Sometimes with the trail, I think that you can take it a little bit easier because you don’t have to worry so much about pacing. But for a road race, it is harder because you have to run faster. You tend to pick up the pace, so it is more difficult.”
“But if I had to pick which one was harder, between the TNF 50km race and the 32km Newton Challenge though, I would say that the TNF race was harder mentally – but the Newton race was harder physically,” she added.
Had trouble getting used to the Singapore heat at first
However, running races as effortlessly as in the Newton Challenge had not always been the case for Cunningham, when she first moved to in Singapore. In fact, when she began running here, she admitted that she had trouble acclimatising to the heat.
Now, she may be much more used to it, but Cunningham still takes precautions. “I try not to run in the hottest part of the day and I drink lots of water. So maybe you never fully get used to the heat,” she explained.
Enjoys the vibrant Singapore running scene
But what she does enjoy about running in Singapore though is the vibrant running scene. “I have lived in Singapore, as well as in Japan and the United Kingdom and I think that Singapore has the best running scene that I’ve experienced. There are so many events and plenty of support,” she explained.
Cunningham also pointed out that because of the small size of Singapore, it is very easy to get from one race to another – unlike in larger countries such as Australia, where it may be hard to get to a running event in Melbourne if you are living in Sydney.
“So as a result, I have been taking part in events much too often! I am at a race almost every weekend – but I would definitely not recommend that, though,” she added.
Some Running Tips from Cunningham
So what does Cunningham recommend then, in terms of the frequency of running events that a person should take part in?
“It varies from person to person. I would say that if you have big goals, such as a marathon, you should do it once a year and build up to that with a few 5km and 10km races and a half marathon. The main thing is not to overdo it with the running and get injured,” she explained.
Join a running club
Besides not overdoing it with the number of races, Cunningham also recommends that runners should join a running club – in order to further improve at the sport.
Cunningham added, “There are so many running clubs here in Singapore at the moment, and the people are really friendly and the support is good. At the same time, running is also an enjoyable activity and it is great for the health.”