Successfully running a full marathon (42.195km) in a timing of 2 hours 24 minutes and 22 seconds (or less) “would be nice”, according to Soh Rui Yong, 24.
That particular timing happens to be the currently standing Singapore national marathon record, achieved by Murugiah Rameshon in the 1995 South East Asian Games.
Would like to run a personal best at Fukuoka Marathon
Despite it “being nice” if he actually did break the local marathon record, Soh, a Business student at the University of Oregon, quickly said that he is not going to go into his third and next marathon – the Fukuoka International Open Marathon Championships in Japan – with this specific timing goal over his head.
This Fukuoka marathon takes place on Sunday, December 6 this year.
Said the gold medallist in the South East Asian Games this year, “I would definitely like to run a Personal Best and I am in shape to run better than I did around this time last year – at the California International Marathon. So if I ran 2 hours 26 minutes last year, then I think I will be able to do something better this time around. Of course, and 2 hours and 24 minutes would be the icing on the cake!”
Soh continued, “But if I go into the race with a time goal and a specific focus on what timing I want to run, then I will end up thinking about it too much. And I won’t be able to enjoy the race as this would make me too stressed up, by continuously looking at my watch and how I would have progressed after every kilometre of running.”
Soh also added that during a marathon, there are many factors to consider, such as the wind direction and the gradient of the course. He explained, “The wind may be in your face during one kilometre and the course may be a little uphill or downhill in the next. So you really have to run based on how you feel, for the first 25-32km at least.”
Preparations are going well
Soh’s preparations for Fukuoka are definitely looking good, according to him. He explained, “My preparations have been going well. I am trying a different approach this time. Back when I was training for the South East Asian Games as well as my first marathon in California, I was trying to hit the magic 100 miles (160km) per week. I had thought that if I run 100 miles a week, then I am going to be a good runner.”
Added Soh, “But this time round, I am not going to count how many miles I am running on a weekly basis. I am just going to run based on how my body feels. So in this training cycle, I have only run 100 mile weeks two times – the rest of the weeks have been between 90 to 100 miles. After all, different training programmes work for different people and there is no single solution to fit everyone.”
Training sessions have been based on body feeling
Soh’s training sessions have been mainly based on body feel. He said, “But if it is a marathon specific workout, then I will try and run the pace that I have targeted, for example, either marathon pace, half-marathon pace or 10KM pace. It depends though, on whether you are running on a softer surface such as grass. If you are, you will have to add five to ten seconds to your timing. On track, you will run slightly faster – due to the nature of the surface. But then again, every training session has a different purpose.”
The champion continued, “I do two long runs a week. One is a medium-long run on Wednesdays where I run 20-21km and the other is on Sundays when I run something like 25-30km. My longest so far was 38km.”
Besides doing running, Soh is also in the gym once a week, for core and strengthening exercises. He said, “Because of school, I cannot go to the gym twice a week – like I had done to train for the previous two marathons. So I spend about an hour in the gym.”
Race Strategy at Fukuoka
Regarding his race strategy, Soh added that this time round, it would be very different compared to the South East Asian Games. He said, “That time, I was running for a medal. This time I am running for a timing. At the South East Asia Games, I also only had ten guys with me but this time I have close to 800 guys in the race.”
He added, “So this means that there will be a lot of Japanese runners as well as good runners from Kenya and the United States who will be pretty fast. So I will have a lot of company. And this will make the race quite interesting – I am going there to compete against the Japanese guys so that they can push me to deliver a good performance. If I race against them, I feel that I’ll be able to race well. So they are not only there to compete against me, but also to help to propel me, so that is a good thing.”
Running with a group has helped Soh tremendously. For example, at the recent San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon, which he had run in 1 hour 7 minutes and 21 seconds, group running helped Soh to clock a new Singaporean national record in the 21.1km half marathon distance.
Said Soh, “I can tell you that when I raced at San Jose, I would not have raced so well if I did not have the group to tag along with. I ran 16km with them and then broke away and completed the last bit of the race by myself.”
So he is hoping that this strategy will pay off again at the Fukuoka Marathon – and may even pave the way to perhaps even breaking Rameshon’s 2 hour 24 minute 21 second marathon record, which has stood the test of time – since 1995.