Sundown Marathon: Tips from Top Runner, Marcus Ong

Winning the Sundown Ultra Marathon 100km team of 4 relay event.

Winning the Sundown Ultra Marathon 100km team of 4 relay event.

Despite the fact that he’s clearly not a night owl and doesn’t perform to his best when he’s running at night, 28-year-old IT executive Marcus Ong has conquered Singapore’s largest night race, the Sundown Marathon – twice. He won the 10km race in 2009. Then last year, he emerged victorious in the men’s 4x10km event – completing his own leg in 35 minutes and 56 seconds.

This year, he is running the 10km race again, so you may just see him occupying the No 1 spot on the podium – for the third time.

I got some tips from the champion runner – on training for the Sundown Marathon. To find out what Marcus said, do read on.

Johor Bahru track open 2014, champion.

Johor Bahru track open 2014, champion.

What is your expected finishing timing at the Sundown Marathon this year?

I don’t expect a good timing for sundown as it is past my bedtime and I’ll definitely see a drop of 30 per cent in my performance. My timing last year was 35min 56secs for my 10km relay leg.

I understand that you do altitude training. How is this done?

At the Altitude gym in Bukit Timah, I train in a chamber studio (an 800 sq ft air-tight chamber), which stimulates an environment that is at least 3,500m above sea level. Oxygen levels are kept at 14% compared to 21% outside. Nitrogen, produced by a compressor system, replaces the oxygen. In the chamber, training on wpm bikes, treadmills and other fitness equipment is done.

How is it like in the oxygen chamber?

At first, I felt like I was choking for air, but after one month of training, I adapted to the workouts in the chamber.

How long have you been doing Altitude training for?

I’ve done it for three months – and am still doing it now. I do cross training in the chamber for a maximum of one hour per session, twice per week.

Running at the recent Johor Bahru Track open 2014.

Running at the recent Johor Bahru Track open 2014.

How does this training help with your running?

Exercising in an environment with less oxygen, teaches your body to use oxygen more efficiently. So when you are running, you are breathing more effectively. It increased my performance during rehabilitation, after an injury. I got back to running and within one month, was hitting close to my 5km personal best.

Would you recommend altitude training to runners?

Yes, whether you are an elite or a casual runner, you should give the Altitude gym a try. You will feel the difference in your training.

Winner of Great Eastern Johor Run 2013.

Winner of Great Eastern Johor Run 2013.

And how much does the training cost?

First time is free trial. Subsequently, members of the gym pay $130 to 250 a month, depending on the type of membership.

How have you been preparing and training for Sundown Marathon?

I follow my proper training for track events. I do long runs, speed and gym workout. I don’t peak in terms of my performance at night races. So I just do the Sundown Marathon to clock long runs and to have fun.

What has your diet been like so far?

I normally eat moderately and avoid having too much fried foods & drinking beer. These cause fat cells to increase, which clogs up the blood vessels.

Giving runners advice and stretching exercises, at a Run 350 clinic in February.

Giving runners advice and stretching exercises, at a Run 350 clinic in February.

What are some tips that you can give to runners, about training safely at night, to prepare for the Sundown Marathon?

Be careful when running on the road, always wear white or bright clothes to be visible or vehicles may not notice you.

What are your comments on night training?

I don’t advise doing late night running, as our body’s sleeping hours are from 11pm onwards. It can cause dehydration and body fatigue.

So how would you advise a morning runner, who is doing the Sundown Marathon?

For a late night race though, it’s better to do some night training. I would advise him or her to sleep late and do seven days of night training as the Sundown Marathon draws nearer – to adapt to the race time.

Powering to victory at the 1,500m SAA track race in March 2014.

Powering to victory at the 1,500m SAA track race in March 2014.

How can you advise runners who are taking on their first 10km race at the Sundown Marathon?

Just have fun, enjoy the beautiful night scenery and don’t worry about your timing, because you would not be running your best late at night.

Any other tips that you can share?

Stay hydrated and take some caffeine to stay awake.

Other Blog Posts

Click here to read about Sundown Marathon tips from 42km Sundown winner finisher Alex Ong

Click here to read about Sundown Marathon tips from regular Top 3 podium finisher Ivan Low

Click here to find out how to treat running injury, from a specialist sports physician.

Click here to read about handcycling at the Sundown Marathon.

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