Ian Lye is the other half of the Singaporean duo (together with Chin Wei Chong) that completed the “toughest footrace on Earth” Marathon Des Sables for charity last year. He has an admirable passion for nature and running, and is an active trail runner. We had a quick chat with Ian as he shared with us tips for trail running and some advice for runners joining the Compressport Rail Corridor Run 2016.
JustRunLah!: How will you introduce yourself to Singapore running community?
Ian: I’m first and foremost an explorer at heart who loves the outdoors, and trail running and ultra races have become a means for me to discover new places and races, and seek out new experiences around the world. In order to feed my hobby, I hold a regular job as a compliance manager in an investment bank.
JustRunLah!: When did you first pick up running (what age) and what inspired you to do so?
Ian: My first taste of running competitively came when I was in National Service and I represented my squadron and the Fleet in various middle distance events such as the 1,500m, the 5000m and the 10,000m. Back then, I was really inspired by the likes of Moroccan Hicham el-Guerrouj and Ethiopian legend Haile Gebrselassie. While I did enjoy some success, I stopped running regularly to focus on my university studies, and it was only a few years ago that I rediscovered my love for running and took it up seriously again. These days though, I’ve switched to trail running and ultramarathons, as I no longer have the raw foot speed to keep up with all the young bucks out there!
JustRunLah!: Would you say that one needs to have a certain mindset to take up running as a sport/exercise activity?
Ian: Because running is a solitary sport in many ways, you really need a certain level of mental toughness and the resilience to push through the difficult patches even when there’s no one watching or cheering you on. Most runners also tend to enjoy, or are at least comfortable, with solitude, which is important to be able to cope with the loneliness of the long-distance runner.
JustRunLah!: What would you consider to be your biggest running achievement so far?
Ian: That would definitely be completing the Marathon des Sables last year, a 240 km multi-stage race in the Sahara desert. It was and still is the biggest test I’ve ever faced in running!
JustRunLah!: How has Compressport products assist in your training/achievements?
Ian: I’ve been a big fan of Compressport’s products for a long time now, and I have to say the R2 Calf Sleeves and the Trail Shorts are probably my favourite pieces of gear. The Calf Sleeves are fantastic for recovery after a hard training session or a long race, and I usually put them on just before I go to bed and let them do their magic. The highly compressive material just squeezes out all the soreness and toxins from my muscles, and voila, my legs feel a lot better and lighter the next day!
The trail shorts are also one of my essential pieces of running gear and work really well in reducing muscle vibrations and delaying fatigue over a long race. For travelling on flights, my go-to travel socks are the Full Socks, which stimulate blood flow and prevent fluid from accumulating in the foot. The colourful and eye-catching designs, which really help Compressport products stand out compared to the other brands out there, are a definite bonus!
JustRunLah!: What are your future goals?
Ian: I’ve not had the chance to race much outside of Asia yet, so running some of the iconic trail races in Europe and the US is something I really want to do in the near future. Beyond running, I’ll definitely continue to do what I love and just enjoy being outside and in the mountains, whether that’s through hiking or biking. Never stop exploring, those are words I try to live by.
JustRunLah!: One reason why runners should join Compressport Rail Corridor Run 2016?
Ian: It’s probably going to be the last chance to run this historic and beautiful stretch of Singapore before it gets closed for the construction of a pipeline, so runners should definitely not miss this race! On top of that, the runners’ entitlements in the race pack look amazing with fantastic Compressport goodies, and who doesn’t love a great bargain?
JustRunLah!: What advice would you give to all participants at Compressport Rail Corridor Run 2016?
Ian: Be specific in your training. Aim for a few long runs with similar terrain and weather conditions as the race to get used to running on uneven ground during the heat of the day. It will be important to stay hydrated because the race course is pretty exposed, and the sun can be pretty merciless. But most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience of running this beautiful course one last time before it gets closed down.
JustRunLah!: What is your mantra for when the going gets tough in a race?
Ian: That would be a quote from ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes:
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
While it’s a simple philosophy, repeating those words in my mind has definitely gotten me through a few rough spots in races. It’s a reminder that relentless forward progress, no matter how slow, is always faster than staying still.
It also helps to break the race down into manageable chunks. No matter how tired I get, or how bad it hurts, I just focus on making it to the next aid station, and not let my mind defeat itself by dwelling on how many more kilometres there are to the end.
JustRunLah!: Finish this sentence: Running is…
Ian: a gift that has continued to bless me with opportunities to travel and see some amazing places, make some great friends and fulfill dreams that I never thought were possible before. On a daily level, running is my personal therapy that mentally recharges me and lets me enter that elusive zen zone.