Interview #4 for Inspiring Women Who Run
Karen Siah is a friendly fitness coach from Subang Jaya with a mean running streak. My first encounter with her was very much by chance when I went to sign up for a race at the Live Great Eastern Run booth last year. Since then I’ve joined Karen in a few public running sessions, most notably the Nike We Run training series. Every time we meet at a race somewhere, she never fails to give me a smile and a hug, like an old friend. Today, this Kiwi graduate shares her thoughts about running, here in this week’s segment of Inspiring Women Who Run – only on Run Fairy Run!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a bit of a rebel. 🙂 I’m the middle child of 3 kids and the only daughter of the family. I guess that gives me the “middle child” and the “daddy’s little girl” syndrome. I try very hard not to appear as the weaker sex, and strive to be just as good as my brothers physically. I am a Personal Trainer and a Fitness instructor and I really love what I do.
2. What made you get into running and how long have you been doing it?
I’d have to say my Dad played a big role. I never really liked running compared to other sorts of athletics. I was into high jumping, sprinting, tug of war, stuff like that, but never much fancied long distance. I assumed I was bad at it. But Dad kept persuading me to try it out and coaxed me into going jogging with him. It was then I realised I kind of have a knack for it. 🙂 That was when I was 13. I’m 26 now, so that makes it 13 years I have been running!
3. Wow, that’s literally half your life of running – fantastic! Moving on. What’s your typical running routine like?
Basically I go for short runs about 3 times a week (Lately, 3 times if I’m lucky. Usually I only manage to squeeze in 2 times). These runs are about 5-8 km long. On the weekend I do other activities like cycling, or hiking. I take part in plenty of runs so I take those as my long distance training. 🙂
4. Do you have any special diets?
Nope. Just watch the sugary and greasy stuff. I carbo load a bit more closer to a long run and eat plenty of eggs and meats to sustain my active lifestyle.
5. What is your favorite race distance and why?
I would have the say the marathon. All 42 kms. When you run one, you feel pretty good about yourself.
6. What was your favorite race?
I’d say the Auckland Marathon in New Zealand. Because I did it twice and broke my personal best both times (my standing PR being 3:58). Because it’s held in the best season of the year, early summer, which is not too hot and not too cold. Because they give you jellybeans at the refreshment stations. 🙂 I did study in New Zealand for 3 full years so I ran a few marathons there. My personal bests were all recorded there because of the conducive weather, mostly.
But in a separate event, I ran the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon one year to raise funds for the Kiwanis Down Syndrome Foundation, completely blindfolded, the entire way. It was a very humbling experience. Actually, I wanted to challenge myself because I met a girl in New Zealand who did 10km blindfolded. I thought, I could do that for a full marathon for sure. So I decided, why not raise some money for it too. I sprained my ankle 3 times, quite badly, but with the help and support of my running partners and good friends, Isaiah and Ralph, I made it to the finish line. That is a moment I would cherish forever.
7. I understand you’re a boot camp instructor! Tell us about that.
Bootcamp workouts are amazing for working on your strength and conditioning. They work on your power muscles (your big thigh muscles and your calves which all contribute to increasing your speed and cadence when you run) and your stability muscles (your core, your hip stabilizers and all the little stabilizer muscles in the body so you don’t lose unnecessary energy when you run!). Plus, when your stability and strength increases, risk on injury decreases. I’ve met so many people who had knee pain, managed to cure it with just a few months of bootcamp! No drugs! BUT, it should not be the sole replacement of your training regime. Bootcamp wouldn’t train your stamina much, and at the end of the day if what you’re targeting is a PB in 10, 21 or 42 kms, then those are the mileages you still need to clock in.
8. Should a lady runner consider attending bootcamp?
9. Why do you think the trend of running has taken off so explosively in Malaysia currently? Races fill up at a blinding speed nowadays.
Honestly, I think the awareness of living a healthy lifestyle has significantly increased all across Malaysia. Running is just one of the aspects that we notice. Running is relatively cheap (no need to pay for expensive gym membership or sports equipments) and it is thought by many to be easy to adopt. However, I think they soon realize that running is pretty much a skill, and training to run well can be very technical. But across the board, it is generally a much easier sport to take up. That and with the rise of cool running attires and gadgets and apps, people who run are cool! Wouldn’t you want to be cool?
10. Do you have any other goals which you have not yet achieved in running?
Plenty. Run a marathon in a different country every year. Break my personal best again. And again. And again. 🙂
11. Do you have additional advice or shout-out to say to all lady runners out there?
Run, run, run. Run towards, not away from something. Run, because it is both empowering and relaxing. Run, because you are the Captain of your own ship when you run. 🙂
Thanks Karen for sparing me some time for this awesome interview!
For more information on Karen, visit her personal website at www.karensiah.com.