Joyce Teo speaks to ultramarathoner Lim Nghee Huat about what it takes to ace an endurance event
What do you do to keep fit?
I run twice a week, covering 10km to 15km on a weekday and 20km to 30km on Saturdays. I run from my house in Sembawang Hill Estate to Upper Peirce Reservoir and Old Upper Thomson Road. I also do sit-ups, push-ups and work out with dumbbells if time permits.
Why do you choose to run ultramarathons?
I have done many marathons since my first in 1987. After a while, a marathon could no longer motivate me much. I proposed to National Technological University in 2005 that I do a 168km fund-raising ultramarathon around Singapore. I was not sure if I could finish it but, somehow, the human body does allow us to withstand the exertion. I was the champion with a time of 24hr and 44min. I then moved on to 217km ultramarathons.
How do you prepare for a 217km ultramarathon?
It is a big challenge to find time to train for a ultramarathon. I usually start preparing for a race three months ahead. I increase my weekend mileage to 50km to 80km.
I try to replicate the race conditions and terrain as much as possible. For extreme weather races such as the Badwater Ultra-marathon in the soaring temperatures of Death Valley in the United States, I ran from 10am to 4pm under the hot sun to get used to the heat.
How do you tackle the pain?
I tell the pain: "I am going to overcome you." I also keep telling myself that it is temporary and that I can finish the race. I make sure I take breaks of around 15 to 20 minutes during a race. If you rest for a longer time, your body will become more sensitive to the pain.What goes on in your head during an ultramarathon?
When I run, I pray for my family, friends, colleagues, and the time passes very quickly. The second half of the race is more difficult, as I also have to fight the urge to sleep. I've tried chewing on coffee beans, drinking Red Bull energy drinks and hot coffee and sucking on sour plums. Occasionally, I listen to relaxing music and hymns.
Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
I started running at 17 and came in first in all the mid- to long-distance events in university. I became a top triathlete and was very fit until 2000. During that time, my workload grew, so I exercised less. I also didn't watch my diet.
I had a health scare in 2002, when my cholesterol level shot up. My doctor said I needed to exercise at least three times a week. So I went back to running two or three times a week.
What is your secret to looking so fabulous?
I exercise whenever I can and I watch what I eat. I avoid deep-fried food and limit my intake of red meat. I also stay away from crabs and prawns, even though I like seafood, especially crabs. I also have to control myself when I see my wife eating durians, which we both like.
What is your diet like?
I eat three or four meals a day. For breakfast, I usually have oats and a peanut butter and honey sandwich, or other types of sandwiches and a salad, or just a few pieces of fruit.
Lunch is typically rice or noodles with vegetables, fish and fruit. For dinner, it is whatever is being served or available.
What do you do to relax?
I read and I play with my granddaughter. I also do some gardening when I have the time.What are the three most important things in your life?
Love for my family and friends. Running is also a form of love for them. I believe we should exercise to stay healthy for our families.
Hope. I hope to inspire more people to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Faith. Nothing is impossible if we have faith.
Can you share an exercise tip?
Be disciplined. It is also good to have a goal. For me, a race event motivates me as I have an objective to work towards. Would you go for plastic surgery?
No. Being natural is still the best.
Do you think you're sexy?
I have never thought about it. I am already over 60. The key is to maintain a healthy body and not think about whether one is sexy or not.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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