Fitness

Schedule vital for mothers on the run

From left: Neo Jie Shi, Jenny Huang, Rachel See, Anne Qi Hui and Jasmine Goh at the start of last year's Great Eastern Women's Run at The Float@Marina Bay. National marathoner Jasmine Goh points out that even small changes in lifestyle can bring fitn
From left: Neo Jie Shi, Jenny Huang, Rachel See, Anne Qi Hui and Jasmine Goh at the start of last year's Great Eastern Women's Run at The Float@Marina Bay. National marathoner Jasmine Goh points out that even small changes in lifestyle can bring fitness benefits.PHOTO: GREAT EASTERN WOMEN'S RUN

Juggling career, family and training involves a degree of planning for many women athletes

Running in the morning before a taxing day of work may sound burdensome, but not for ultra-marathoner Jenny Huang.

Whenever the 44-year-old physiotherapist misses a running session due to meetings or having to ferry her two teenage kids around, she feels lethargic.

"On days that I miss training because of sending my kids to school, work meetings or whatever, I feel like I'm a caged animal, like you haven't done what you're supposed to do - haven't sweated, haven't cleared my head. It's a meditation thing," said Huang.

She spends up to 35 hours a week with her clients while fitting in one hour every weekday and up to three hours in total on the weekend, training at various locations.

Huang, who was the only woman to dip below 11 hours for the 100km Sundown Ultra Marathon in 2013, said: "I find it as a life balance. If I don't have training or running, I don't feel complete.

"If I didn't have work, I'd feel bored and I definitely need my kids. If I don't have all these three integrated, it's not right."

Her story, of juggling training, career and children, is common to many participants in next month's Great Eastern Women's Run (GEWR) at The Float@Marina Bay.

BALANCING LIFE'S DEMANDS

I have met many friends who gave up their social lives after they gave birth, and I see them struggling to find their identity not only as a mother, but also as a woman. I believe sports can be the answer to being a happier mummy.

SUMIKO TAN, triathlete who trains up to 20 hours a week, even as the mother of a one-year-old daughter.

Finding a balance is exactly what Australian Suzy Walsham excels at. The 43-year-old accountant is always on the phone, dealing with conference calls while fitting in her nine training sessions weekly and spending time with her seven-year-old son.

Walsham won the Empire State Building Run-Up - a marquee tower vertical race in New York - in February for a record eighth time.

Her secret is careful planning.

She said: "I find it helpful if I schedule time for each of the things I need to do. You have to plan your time ahead to make sure you have enough time.

"It's like a timetable. I'm from the older generation, so it's in my head. I find that you can create a habit of blocking out certain times for your family. If I don't plan for it, it doesn't happen."

For those looking to dig out their old jogging shoes and hit the road, it can be daunting to add another routine to an already hectic life. But national marathoner Jasmine Goh insists that one does not have to start big - even following workout videos on YouTube would suffice.

The 38-year-old, who finished fourth at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, said: "Sometimes it's the small changes in your life. Like a diet, taking stairs instead of the lift, take a walk during your lunch, choose somewhere further to eat, then walk back.

"Once you feel the desire, you'll do more. Start with small, baby steps, so that you're not overwhelmed. Some people set big goals and don't do it, it's out of their comfort zone."

Running, for some, like triathlete Sumiko Tan, can even be therapeutic. The mother of a one-year-old daughter trains up to 20 hours weekly and finished second in the 10km race of last year's The Straits Times Run in the City.

"Taking care of children can be very tiring at times," said the 32-year-old. "I have met many friends who gave up their social lives after they gave birth, and I see them struggling to find their identity not only as a mother, but also as a woman.

"I believe sports can be the answer to being a happier mummy."

She and Walsham will compete in the 10km race of the Nov 12 GEWR while Huang and Goh have signed up for the half-marathon. There is also a 5km event and for the first time, it will feature a 2km Mummy + Me Run for mothers with their daughters (aged seven to 12).

The 12th edition of the GEWR has attracted about 13,000 participants.

To register, go to greateasternwomensrun.com

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 15, 2017, with the headline 'Schedule vital for mothers on the run'. Print Edition | Subscribe