Edan Syah is no stranger to overcoming challenges, both physical and mental. Acknowledged as Malaysia’s fastest marathon runner in 2016, he started running in 2008 but only ran a full marathon in 2011 which he dedicated to his mother who had passed away and to raise funds for a cancer-related charitable body. Soon he realized his running potential and he wanted to maximise it at the right time…and the rest is…history in the making.
A relative newcomer, this self-coached runner has achieved an impressive list of achievements in a short span of time – he qualified for the 119th Boston Marathon 2015 and finished with a time of 2:41:55, ranking him as the fastest and youngest Malaysian in the race. At the Tokyo Marathon 2016, he achieved a personal record of 2:38:55 and is now ranked as the fastest marathon runner in Malaysia. The full-time running coach was previously a product specialist and a graphic designer, and now balances his work with personal training, a challenge most working adults who love running would face today.
Hear more from Edan about his own running journey and some advice for budding runners…
Tell us more about your achievements in running.
I believe in having your own goals in running; for me, mine is to run in the 6 World Marathon Majors and have now completed three so far: 2014 in Chicago, 2015 in Boston and 2016 in Tokyo. Next up: London, Berlin and New York!
How do you train?
I train 6 days a week (my off days are Mondays) and I normally run first myself before I start the training sessions with others.
You have participated in races in different countries. What have you learnt from running in other countries?
I think the main thing to deal with is the weather. In Tokyo this year, it helped that I got there earlier to train and adapt to the weather. To me 15 degrees Celsius is cold; but the Japanese were saying that the weather was too warm! Some of them were dehydrated and collapsed before the finishing line. When the weather is cold, it’s tough on your breathing and you need to know how you hydrate yourself too. When you train here in Malaysia, you see the sweat and you know you need to rehydrate roughly every 25 minutes. In cold weather, you still need to hydrate yourself even though you don’t see the sweat! You need to drink at least 500ml of sports drinks like Lucozade Sport™ every hour to replenish the energy and electrolytes you have lost.
Who is your running idol?
Yuki Kawaguchi, a ‘citizen runner’ from Japan. He works full-time but he is able to run better than full-time athletes who train everyday! He even had the chance to represent Japan in the 2014 Asian Games.
How would you advise budding runners to train for a marathon?
Don’t focus on distance but focus on duration. For example, do a 3-minute run and a 2-minute walk, so you have a 5-minute set. Finish the duration and you will get the distance. If you focus on distance first, you will tend to walk more than you run!
Have a long term goal when planning your marathon-running. Make it personal; don’t compare with your friends. Have a goal for the next 6 months and prepare towards it. It’s not a competition with your friends. If you want to be serious, get a training coach who will help you train better.
How long should one prepare for a marathon?
Respect the distance. If you want to prepare for a half-marathon, you need at least 2 months to prepare. For a full marathon, you need at least 8-12 weeks to train before you run. Else, you may just end up walking through the race or suffer (in pain) after it!
Training on a treadmill or outdoors: Which is better?
In Malaysia, a lot of it depends on weather. Haze can be a factor too. It’s important to mix the training both on the treadmill and the road, because you have to run outdoors on the road during the race. You need to adapt to race day conditions.
Any advice on recovery for a relatively new runner?
The most important thing to remember is that after every race, you need to do cooling down and stretch your muscles within 15 minutes after the race. Drink electrolyte drinks like Lucozade Sport™ immediately after the run because that is the time that your body needs something very fast for replenishment of the loss of minerals, water and energy. The day after the race, it is advisable to go out for a light jog or cycling to reduce the lactic acid in your body; you need to stay moving. You can even go shopping as you will be walking a lot!
Quick tips from Edan
- Use proper running shoes to protect your feet and improve performance; regular sneakers or shoes designed for other sports won’t give your feet the support they need for running long distances.
- Stay hydrated by drinking small amounts of water before and throughout training to prevent dehydration, as well as after training.
- Maintain consistent energy levels while running with 30g-60g of carbohydrates every hour for each hour of racing.
- A balanced and nutritional diet with the right carbohydrates helps to fuel your training while protein helps to build, maintain and repair muscle tissue.
This article is brought to you by the Lucozade Sport™ ‘Fuel Your Performance’ Campaign, an initiative to help dedicated athletes achieve their performance goals and inspire others to achieve their dreams.