Regular podium finisher, April McKenna, started running to get regular exercise

April McKenna, 42, a regular podium finisher at a number of Singapore’s running races, had initially started running simply because she had wanted to get some exercise.

Said April, a banker, “I started running when I first started working, more than 20 years ago. I was sitting at the desk all day and I needed to move my legs. So I ran at lunch time to get my legs moving.”

April (right) started running to get exercise.

She added, “I began slowly, doing a couple of kilometres each time. At the start, I used to use a run-walk-run strategy till I slowly built up more confidence and then I tried 5km, and then 10km. Now I am enjoying my 21.1km runs. I love running because it makes me feel free. I also get to spend time alone and push my limits.”

Never imagined she would today be picking up podium prizes

In those early days though, April had never dreamt that today, she would be running, and also picking up podium prizes at local running events.

Some of the podium finishes that she has chalked up include third place at the Army Half Marathon 2016 Women’s Open category (21.1km), second place at the Run & Raisin 10km Women’s Open category 2016 and 3rd place at the 2XU Compression Run 2017 Women’s Competitive category (21.1km). She also came second at the recent Performance Series 2017 Women’s Open category (21.1km) which took place earlier this month.

And out of all of these podium placings, which of these them is the most memorable to April? She said “It had been the third placing at last year’s Army Half Marathon. This is such a big event; it is great for the Singapore Army and it brings us all together. I was so proud to be on the stage in front of everyone last year.”

Runs about five times a week

To train for her races and get to where she is today, April runs about five times a week. She said “I rest a couple of days; one of these is a complete rest day and the other will be for gym training. I run anywhere between 8km – 12km and my weekly mileage is about 80km.”

April (4th from left) trains with the F1 Runners Team and runs five times a week.

April trains regularly with the F1 Runners Team, which is helmed by Lexxus Tan – a coach and competitive runner whose marathon personal best is 2hrs 50min 11seconds.

For her run training sessions, April does track work and interval training on a regular basis, which she strongly recommends that all runners should do. Said April, “Track work and intervals really help to improve your speed.”

And at the gym, April has a personal trainer too. She will do weights as well as core and strength training. In addition, she also plays tennis, as a form of cross training.

Balance out training with sufficient rest

April understands the importance of balancing out training with rest though and stresses that runners should not overdo their training.

She said “You have to balance out training with rest and do not risk injury. If you train too hard you will get injured; sometimes I admit I am guilty of that too.”

April (right) chatted with other runners at the recent Army Half Marathon 2017.

Run your own race

And during races, April strongly recommends runners to run their own race, based on her personal experiences and wealth of experience.

She said, “Sometimes people go out too fast at races. They run hard at the beginning and then they burn out and slow down; I have done that myself too. Just be calm, enjoy the experience and run your own race. Do not worry about everyone else.”

However April admits that holding back can be quite mental though, especially if you are seeing everyone whiz straight past you.

It is important to run your own race, says April (centre) (Photo: Run Society).

She said, “You have to make the effort to tell your body not to go with everyone else. Visualising the race before you run it does help though as it helps to clear your mind and focus on your race strategy.”

Final words of advice

What are some final words of advice that April has?

She said, “Train well and be disciplined. Finding friends to run with, also helps you to stay motivated to keep training. Also join some races and set these as goals to work towards.”

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