There are many ways to relieve stress and exercising, in the form of running, is definitely one of the popular methods to run off our anxieties and setbacks we face in our daily lives. In this interview session, we chat with Claire Tang, a jogger-turned-runner who has achieved numerous commendable placings for both local and overseas races and got her to share with us how she became the adrenaline junkie she is today.
JustRunLah!: How will you introduce yourself to Singapore running community?
Claire Tang: A mileage junkie who prefers to run instead of taking public transport if it’s at all possible. I like to use my legs to take me to places, exploring new surroundings some of which is only accessible by foot. Also, I do not like to jostled and elbowed by the crowds taking public transport so running to places works well for me.
JRL: When did you first pick up running (what age) and what inspired you to do so?
Claire: I took on jogging as a hobby when I started working. Gee…. that was more than 10 years ago! Running then was a means to cope with the stress of working life but over the years, I came to fall in love with it, progressing from a jogger to a runner.
JRL: What would you consider to be your biggest running achievement so far?
Claire: If you consider achievement by the number of wins in races, then there were the Asics City race and Sundown marathon team relay which my team came in first for both events. I came in third for Camel Muar Half marathon and was the champion for the union category in the NTUC 350 run.
On a different note, running in Boston marathon this year and completing the race under chilly temperature, strong gusty winds and rain showers is something that I am really proud of. At some point during the race, I really wanted to drop out of the race due to the extreme cold. But the overwhelming support of the crowd out in full force on the streets, braving the rain to cheer the runners on helped me to persevere. The difficulty in qualifying for this race also made it a memorable one with the qualifying time getting tougher each year.
JRL: You ran an impressive 43min37s for the 10km! How long did it take you to train for that?
Claire: Running is an expression of your complete self and where you stand now; all your training, habits, food and who you meet – everything. For me, running has always been a part of my life for many years so the timing is a result of all of that.
JRL: What advice would you give to someone taking that 10km race? Just Run Lah?
Claire: For starters, just run lah! Enjoy the experience of completing the race without any target on timing. However, for those who wish to run for their personal best, you would need to have a proper training plan incorporating long run, speed session, strength and flexibility training. Yes, running is a holistic sport and if you want to do well without injuring yourself, there is a lot to be done!
JRL: Do you have any pre-race rituals? What goes through your head every time you run?
Claire: Weeks before a race, speed session is mandatory to simulate running at race pace and to fire up the muscles. The speed sessions also help to boost my confidence to run in the race. On race day, a cup of Kopi-O is a must for breakfast a few hours before the run as it helps to prevent pit stops during the race.
JRL: What is your mantra for when the going gets tough in a race?
Claire: I always tell my friends that racing is “siong” (tough) and I always “chuan” (breathless) during races. Having said that, racing is a way to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could do and helps us to find out what we are made of.
When the going gets tough in a race, I focus on maintaining a good running form and telling myself that it is mind over body. Reminding myself that “there is no limits” help me overcome the pain of running at my maximum effort and that the race is soon over stops me from whining. Once the race is over, I like that I have no regrets knowing I have run my best in the race.
JRL: What do you think makes a runner, especially someone who keeps at it, put feet to the ground day after day?
Claire: Motivation. The capacity to challenge yourselves and drive yourselves to overcome the obstacles. Waking up early in the morning to put in the mileage when it is so hard to peel yourself from the bed. Speed training after a hard day at work when it takes so much out from you physically and mentally. Pushing through at a certain pace at great discomfort to achieve your race target on race day. All these takes a tremendous amount of motivation.
JRL: Finish this sentence: Running is…
Claire: empowering and liberating. You could do by yourself, under your own strength and power. You could go in any direction. You could go fast or slow. You could seek out new places to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. You live in the moment as you feel your entire body moving using the strength of your feet and the power of your lungs.