Tackling 400km Running Mileage A Month, Azyan Shares Her Secret
For our Q&A with fellow runners this time around, Nur Azyan Yusof had graciously agreed to spend some time answering our questions.
Her gentle and soft demeanour belie an iron-will and steely determination that had got her through a number of marathons and ultra-marathons. With no long distance races held in the country during the pandemic, she still manages to complete more than 400km running mileage a month!
A Facebook status of hers stated:
“I’m not just a wife, I’m not just a mother, I’m not just an employee, I am ME.”
MAD RESPECT to her.
First of all, can you share with us a little bit of yourself?
I was born in Muar, Johor and I’ve been staying in KL for more than 20 years. I’m happily married to a wonderful man and I’m blessed with a 4 yr-old little girl.
How long have you been running and how did you get caught with the running bug?
I’ve been running since 2010. I was a gym-junkie before I got into running. Running to me back then, was simply a form of cardio that I need to do in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay within my ideal weight.
One day, my officemate, asked me to join a 5k-run (luckily back then, I know that 5k is not a marathon, haha) in the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon. I was amazed when I saw the massive crowd of people joining the event. After I finished my run, I stayed near the finish line to watch HMers and Marathoners finished their run and I was filled with admiration towards them. 42km is not a short distance, I was out of breath just doing the 5k! So I say to myself that one day I want to do the whole distance. Perhaps in 10 years, I remembered saying to myself, haha. So naïve back then. But, I did it the next year. And then, the rest is history.
Does your family enjoy the same passion as you?
My husband likes it too. But he is more into trails than road-running.
Being a mom, wife and with a full-time job, how do you balance everything with your passion towards running?
Multitasking, haha. To be honest, I have a lot of help, mainly from my husband who understand this crazy passion that I have. For example, he wouldn’t mind to a simple dinner because I have to do a 5k in the evening.
I also have a jogger stroller, so if my husband is not around to take care of my daughter, I will bring her along in the stroller. Doing a 5k takes me approximately 40-45mins. I consider that as my ‘Me-time’. During that period, I will recharge and de-stress myself. Sometimes, I do the menu list for the whole week. Sometimes, I run to the grocery store to buy simple things like bread, onions etc and walk back. I don’t focus too much on my pace. As long as I was out there and keep moving, I’m happy.
What’s your training normally like?
I don’t have a schedule, really. I run when there’s time. But there’s a couple of running groups that I join.
On Tuesday and Thursday nights, I run with MSRC (Malaysian Stroller Running Community) at KL Sports City.
Photo credit: Shireen.
On Wednesdays, I run with KJRC (Kelana Jaya Runners Club) at Stadium Kelana Jaya.
Photo credit: Syed Syazli
In every run, I would focus on mileage instead of pace. I would slow down when I feel tired, take walk breaks even, and continue when I’m feeling better. There’s nothing wrong with trying to be fast. Go fast, do your speedworks, by all means. But I’ve had my season of going fast years ago. Now, I just want to enjoy running without killing myself, haha. I want to keep running for years to come.
With the MCO and now RMCO and with no races being held currently, how do you keep yourself motivated to train and clocking high mileage?
You have to really want it. If you want it bad enough, nothing can stand your way. And this is just something that I want to see whether I can achieve. Last year, I managed to complete 350km and that was during the craziness of biib challenge. And my running group, KJRC held monthly mileage challenge in Nike App every month. They are 50k and 100k challenge in a month. Being a slightly competitive person, I strive to complete them as soon as possible each month. My friends in that group are pretty competitive too, so that really pushes me to run. Most of them do not stop at 100k. I take it as a positive challenge for me to try and beat them. They are very dedicated too, clocking high mileage themselves, so I have my work cut out for me trying to do the same.
The burning question now is, how do you manage to clock-in 437km in a month? You must have a strong will and legs of steel! Is it for a virtual event or something that you set out to do on your own?
When you see the big number, it is a lot. But that’s roughly 14km a day. I don’t run 14km in a go. I split them up into several runs in a day. And I don’t stress myself with the pace. Usually, I start with 5km in the morning. After I send my daughter off to the nursery, I would walk 3-4km. In the evening, I do another 5-6km. I will try to complete 14km by myself. Those runs I have with my running groups will go into buffer bank. So, when I was pushing for time or it was raining, there’s buffer to cover for it. This method proved to be practical because we all need the motivation to keep going. Imagine missing a day and having to cover 14 x 2 = 28km the next day! So buffer bank prevented me from getting too stress up and just enjoy my running.
Also, up until last month, I was still in the WFH-status with my job so that gives me a lot of time to manage around. If I don’t try it now, there might never be another chance. Most of the time during the weekdays, my daughter is at her nursery, so I would make the best of it before picking her up. That’s why, I have high mileage on weekdays compared to weekends.
Another method that I always practice is to try my best to show up. Whenever my friends asked me to run together, I will do my best to show up. Maybe you’re tired, or maybe you’re not in the mood or you have 3 large basket of laundry waiting, whatever, just show up. If you’re too tired to run, then slow jog, take lots of walking breaks in between. Basically, don’t focus on the pace too much. Just be out there, see your friends, chit-chat together and before you know it, you’ve run 5km with them. That is something than no run at all. And those 5km adds up.
And yes, I joined several virtual events to keep me moving. They are very useful to keep myself accountable.
We see a rise of virtual events and virtual challenges recently during MCO and RMCO. Do you think these virtual events help runners to be motivated and connect with each other?
Yes, I believe so. I like to join virtual runs even before MCO started. To me, it is a way to make myself accountable. When you signed up, you have to do the dirty work yourself. Better yet, ask your friend to participate as well and support each other. When the finisher items arrived, celebrate together. And repeat the process all over again.
There are so many virtual runs in the market now. How do you select which virtual runs you want to participate in?
Usually, I would choose virtual runs that push me and are unique. For example, Trans Borneo VR 1600k, where you gather a team of 6 and complete 1600km in 30 days. That’s 267km in average for each person. And the RD will plot our position based on the accumulated mileage on the map. I thought, that’s pretty cool! Or the Score Virtual Relay, where you gather a team of 4 and wait to run according to your turn. But yes, I shamelessly also go for pretty finisher tee as well.
All throughout the years, you must have had some memorable running memories that you cherish. Can you share with us your most favourite ones?
That would be Perth City to Surf Marathon in 2019.
I’ve been wanting to participate for years. Finally, my dream came true in 2019. I started running again in 2018 after taking 2 years break when I got pregnant in 2016. I trained hard because I know full marathon is not something to play with. You need to respect the distance. But the crews and the spectators were really amazing there. They were very supportive. I was donning the hijab with Malaysia flag on it (by Nashata), so they shouted ‘Go Malaysia!’ at me. When I was 300mtr to finish line, my husband passed my daughter and we ran together to the finish line. The event photographer managed to capture a video and several pictures of me carrying her. It was the best moment ever! All those years waiting and all those hours training are really worth it.
Judging from the mileage and races that you have done so far, age is certainly not slowing you down. What’s your advice towards others who want to lead a healthy and active lifestyle above the age of 40?
The most important thing is, get a thorough medical check-up. Ask the cardiologist if you’re fit to start running at your age. Then, start slow and be consistent. Don’t compare yourself to other people. Be forgiving to yourself. If you can’t run 5km, so what. Just try again the next day. Don’t give up. Relax and enjoy the process, meet new friends even. Be positive and enjoy the adrenaline after. Don’t stress too much with the number on the scale.
What do you hope to see in the future, running wise? During RMCO and hopefully, post RMCO soon.
I hope, we get to start running events soon, post RMCO. I also hope to see more Malaysians to take up running. I hope for motorist to be more considerate when they see runners on the road. #kitajagakita kan. I hope that runners to take virtual run seriously. Don’t cheat your way to get the finisher items. You’re only cheating yourself. Fame and glory do not last. I hope for the running community to embrace positivity and cherish the friendships you built for having the same passion. Appreciate your difference, forgive and forget about the past and move along. This running community is like our extended family. Right?
Anyway, thanks for the opportunity to be in your blog. Honestly, I’m nothing without the help of my family and friends around me. Thank you.