For investment banker Christopher Yip Yew Meng from Petaling Jaya, who turns 33 this year, quitting is never an option. A self-confessed kiasu person, he is always up for challenges.

“The reason I started running was due to a challenge.”

“The reason I started cycling was due to an Audax challenge. After picking up my bike 3 years ago, I went for the BRM300 after 2 weeks and joined my first ever duathlon event after that.”

“I signed up my first ever triathlon event, IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi in 2019 without knowing how to swim. I challenged myself and I only had 3 months to learn swimming and I completed the course without any problems.”

ToughASIA had a deep dive with Chris on his motivation, discipline and routine.

ToughASIA: How, when and why did you get involved in running?

Chris: I had never liked running previously. It all started back in 2012 when I had some friends, who were already running and planning to do a half-marathon, challenged me to do it. Me, being egotistic, accepted the challenge! I ran my ever running event, the 2012 PJ Half Marathon and the addiction started ever since.

It’s that euphoria when you cross the finish line. That feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.

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Half way through a race, most people always tell themselves, “I’m not doing this again! Why did I signed up for this?” But after the race, let’s sign up for the next one!

After a year, I decided to try the full marathon distance and I have been joining the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon (KLSCM) and Penang Bridge Marathon every year since. I completed my first ever full marathon distance at the 2013 KLSCM and recorded a timing of 5:54 hours.

ToughASIA: How often do you run?

Chris: Before the MCO started in March 2020, I was running 5km distances, about 2 to 3 times a week. After the MCO started, I thought to myself that I want to be race ready after the MCO as I have already signed up for few triathlon events and even got selected for the 2020 Chicago Marathon.

Therefore, I started doing easy runs everyday, 7 times a week. It started with daily 5km runs, to 7km and now 10km, with long runs on Sundays. My mileage per week is around 70-80km.

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(Credit: Fiz Said)

ToughASIA: What is your proudest achievement in running?

Chris: My proudest moment is being able to tell my story on how I completed a sub-2 hours half-marathon and a sub-4 hours full marathon with a fairly easy effort.

My 1:45 half-marathon was during one of my usual long runs last month after Chinese New Year. It was supposed to be another easy Long Slow Distance (LSD) run but after 3km, I just felt like breaking my personal best (PB).

For the 3:56 full marathon, I did it for the KLSCM virtual marathon in December last year. That was a surprise sub-4hr as I was recovering from shin splints and I did not push myself.

My biggest achievement is being able to encourage friends and family to pick up running and understanding that it is not a strenuous sport and can be done regardless of age and gender.

ToughASIA: Why did you choose to run with the Maffetone’s Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) method?

Chris: To be honest, I always believe in running hard to get the satisfaction of a good workout. But during the MCO, I listened to a running friend’s advice and rebuilt my base by doing low heart rate (HR) easy runs and it felt addictive and enjoyable. It felt good after every run and I just wanted to continue the next day.

The key is to be able to enjoy the run everyday without feeling burnt out and getting injured.

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ToughASIA: How long did you train with MAF and what was the progression or result which you achieved?

Chris: As my fitness was already at a fair level, it did not take long to see progress. After doing MAF for about 3-4 months, my average pace went from 5:20/km hard runs to sub 5:30/km easy low HR runs. Currently, my zone 2 average pace is at sub 5:20/km. I would say the result is beyond my expectations.

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running and cycling locations?

Chris: I usually run alone around Bukit Kiara, Hartamas or Mutiara Damansara in Kuala Lumpur where I live. A mixture of flats and elevation would be good.

As for cycling, anywhere that is not too dangerous and convenient would be good. Hulu Langat or Bukit Damansara are some of the places I like to cycle in.

ToughASIA: In your experience, can you share other methods you use to strengthen yourself ?

Chris: I believe to run or cycle or swim without injuries, it is best to incorporate strength and conditioning workout as part of your training.

For example, I used to have knee pains during my runs. After strengthening my legs and core muscles, I do not have it anymore.

I get my strength and conditioning training from this cross training and Bootcamp group call Madfoxx Fitness. I do it 3 times a week and the training include HIIT and CrossFit style training with weights.

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ToughASIA: How do you like your role as administrator of the MAF Runners Malaysia on Facebook? 

Chris: It is quite an interesting experience as I can see lots and lots of people, regardless of age and gender are genuinely seeking help and advice to progress in their running journey. So far, of all the Facebook groups I have joined, this is the most positive group. As admins, we try to stick to only relevant topics and positive comments. No offensive or irrelevant posts are allowed.

ToughASIA: How do you like the progress of the group since it first started?

Chris: I was surprised at the number of members as it keeps growing since Jan 2021. Up till now, we have around 22,000 members.

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ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a runner? 

Chris:  The MAF method keeps me going because it amazes me as I have been running for over 8 years and after 10 full distance marathons, I am suddenly progressing due to this training method. I guess it is never too late to try.

Hopefully, I will achieve more Personal Best (PB) timings as I have not included much speed trainings and the progress is unbelievable. I am really looking forward to my first IRONMAN event in Langkawi next year, and then Chicago Marathon – likely in 2023 – and eventually my dream of finishing the 6 World Major Marathons.

Follow the MAF Runners Malaysia Facebook group here, and visit the MAF Running website for more info on the method.