Running and triathlon inspires Captain Shaheen Adam onto greater heights.

29-year old Captain Shaheen Adam, has always been active in sports. While the AirAsia pilot, was mainly pursuing football when he was younger, he and his wife of three years now enjoy hiking, running and wall climbing together.

Shaheen was born in Kuala Lumpur but grew up in the USA, Malaysia and Qatar. Following his father’s footstep, he then decided to become a pilot, spent almost two years in Australia, before coming home to Malaysia. While one sport might be more than enough for most people, the challenging three-disciplined sport of triathlon has piqued the captain’s interest.

ToughASIA: What inspired you to take up running?

Shaheen: My running journey started around 10 years ago, and casually participated in some small events sporadically. My parents were the ones who inspired me to take up running and triathlon.

If I am not mistaken, my first ever run was called the Milo Run, just a short distance of 5km. I did not train much for it as it was all new to me. I was more of a person who enjoys playing team sports and was heavily involved in football. To be honest, it took me a while to actually enjoy running and enjoy the training sessions.

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ToughASIA: What keeps you motivated to train now, even when there are no races?

Shaheen: I have been active since the first lockdown which started last year. My wife, daughter and I were based in Kota Kinabalu at that time. Not being able to run outside during the lockdown period and did not have a trainer to ride on, we ended up doing home workouts called Tabata. We challenged ourselves to do this workout for 30 days straight and we did it! It was a great achievement for me at that time.

In May last year, we moved back to Kuala Lumpur and lucky for me, my dad has a trainer and a treadmill at home. For three times a week, I will be on the online cycling platform called Zwift and run on the treadmill at least twice a week to keep fit.

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running and cycling locations/routes?

Shaheen: My favourite running places would be at Desa Park City, Kuala Lumpur and another one in Eco Sanctuary, Kota Kemuning. I love a beautiful scenery to go along with my runs.

As for cycling routes, I would say it has to be Putrajaya. As cyclists, we will always enjoy a nice and smooth tarmac to cycle on. Putrajaya also has many different routes that we can choose to complete our training programmes. Some weekends, during the times when we all could travel inter-district, I would pack my bike and drive all the way to Putrajaya with my dad and join the triathlon group, RC Coaching for their weekend rides.

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Spectacular atmospher and scenery of the Honolulu marathon will form Shaheen’s fondest running memory.

ToughASIA: What is the most memorable race you have competed in?

Shaheen: As of now, I would have to say the most memorable race that I participated in was my half-marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Honolulu was my first ever international running event plus the scenery and atmosphere was spectacular. Furthermore, I recorded my best half-marathon timing!

ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in running?

Shaheen: Proudest moment for me in running happened with my desire to complete my first ever full marathon. It was a last-minute plan to run the marathon in Sandakan, Sabah as my initial plan was for the Gold Coast Marathon in Australia. Sadly, I had to cancel my trip to Gold Coast due to work.

During the race in Sandakan, I suffered an injury to my right IT band muscle. This happened at the 26th kilometer mark and it forced me to slow down to a walking pace.

All I could do was to walk when I felt the pain and kept moving forward to finish the 42.195km race. Knowing that the cut off-time was 7 hours, I was lucky to complete it in 6:45 hours. This was an unforgettable memory for me!

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Sheer tenacity powered Captain Shaheen Adam towards finishing his maiden marathon in Sandakan, Sabah.

ToughASIA: How do you manage between training, races and family?

Shaheen: Always remember that family is always first. If the wife says no, then it means no! All you need to do is get her a pair of running shoes and a road bike then it will all be settled.

But I am blessed that my wife supports what I do, be it a long run of more than 2 hours or a long ride of 7 hours or more. She always gives me her full support.

Fortunately, my wife herself is into running too! In the evenings, we usually go for our routine runs together with our 2-year old daughter in the stroller. As for cycling, I have yet to get her a road bike although she has been giving hints for one. Hopefully, when times are better, then we can cycle together.

ToughASIA:How do you keep active and fit for your job as a pilot?

Shaheen: Training for an event keeps me healthy. As pilots, we usually plan our holidays throughout the year as we do not always get weekends off. I would then plan a few races in that year to participate in. By planning well ahead and being able to prepare for races, it keeps us physically and mentally fit.

Pilots have to undergo medical examinations every year to be able to keep their flying licence active. Running and triathlon have helped me tremendously with my health and fitness.

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Always remember that family is always first.

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ToughASIA: What is the most difficult part about triathlon and how do you overcome it?

Shaheen: Swimming is my weakness. I love swimming but just do not train enough for swimming and still very new to open water swimming. I have done one open water session in Port Dickson last year in preparation for the Perak Triathlon and IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi but unfortunately, they got cancelled.

I think to overcome my weakness, I have to put in more training sessions and be more relaxed in the water. In that way, I will get more confidence when it comes to open water swimming.

ToughASIA: What keeps you going into 2021 and beyond as a triathlete? Are you looking forward to any race in particular?

Shaheen: The most exciting part about triathlon is the actual race day. Preparing for it, thinking about it, dreaming of it is all part of the excitement.

I look forward to any races that comes along in the future but mainly the IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi, as that will be a huge step for me as a newbie triathlete. Happy to say that I have trained for a triathlon but have not compete in one yet.

Photos from Shaheen Adam

Children normally have fond memories of Milo, as will Shaheen with the 5km Milo Run that started his triathlon journey.