Tips from A Local Ultra Running Champion – Faith Tan

Faith Tan, who is originally from Malacca, in Malaysia, has today firmly established herself in the Singapore ultra running scene – with several running victories to her name. In fact her most recent one has been her top placing at the the Green Race Ultra Challenge (Unlimited Rounds Category) at the end of February, this year.

A bank worker, Faith had shared some running tips at a talk during the recent first anniversary celebration with the Northern Kia Running Club.

Faith Tan is a local ultra running champion. [Photo taken by Tan Kim Lai]

Faith Tan is a local ultra running champion.
[Photo taken by Tan Kim Lai]

Here are the main highlights of what Faith shared.

Weekly Training Sessions

For the ultra runner, her weekly training sessions generally include three short running sessions on weekdays together with a long run of about 30km to 40km on weekends.

Faith added, “On weekdays, I usually do a 7km to 10km evening run after work. On Saturdays I run from MacRitchie Reservoir and do 10 loops of Bukit Timah Hill for my long runs and then back to MacRitchie. When I am at the peak of training though, I may repeat this again on Sundays.”

Trail running is better for the knees than road running, according to Faith.

Trail running is better for the knees than road running, according to Faith.

She usually also does her running training in the trails, especially during her long runs. Said Faith, “I like trails because the soft landing is better for the knees and strengthens the legs at the same time – as compared to hard concrete. For road training runs, they’re usually about 7km to 10km in distance. I also run up the staircases once a week – that’s very important to train the core muscles.”

Weight training is important

Besides running training though, weight training is important to the training regime of an ultra runner, according to Faith. She said, “I do weight training five times a week, for 30-40 minutes during my lunch hour – I feel that doing weights as well as strengthening is important. When the muscles get tight from running and you begin to feel the fatigue, that is when injuries set in.”

Added Faith, “For weights training, I do bars and lunges or squats using weights. I also do different types of weights training, working on various muscles such as the biceps and triceps, so that I am working a variety of muscles.”

Faith also sets aside one day per week for rest plus stretching in her gruelling training schedule – to give her body an opportunity to recharge.

Has not had any injuries

This is one reason that explains why she has been able to stay clear of injuries so far, according to the ultra runner.

Said Faith, “Regarding injuries, so far so good. I am careful and first and foremost, I listen to my body. I do not push myself during training if I am tired. But if I feel my body can take it, then I will go further.”

She added, “Of course sleep helps with recovery as well.”

The recommended number of sleeping hours for an active adult, is about eight to nine hours per night.

Watches her diet closely

Due to her running, Faith also watches her diet very closely.

Faith watches her diet closely and does not eat junk food. [Photo from CDC/ Mary Anne Fenley]

Faith watches her diet closely and does not eat junk food.
[Photo from CDC/ Mary Anne Fenley]

She said, “I don’t simply eat junk food. In the mornings, I take nuts, fruits and fresh milk. Sometimes I have yoghurt if I am still hungry. Then at lunch and dinner, I eat rice with white meat proteins, such as fish and chicken. I hardly eat red meat. Usually I cook so that I can control my diet.”

Balances her family life and training

So with all of her training, how does Faith maintain a good balance with her family life?

She said, “Well, I spend time with my family on Saturday afternoons, when my training run for the day has finished – they understand me, so they are ok with the arrangement!”

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