“I feel that running is not just about running, that there is so much more! It is akin to meditation in motion, a spiritual practice and it allows me to stay focused in everything that I do.”

Nurfaizah Binti Mohamed Nor feels empowered by running not just as a means to get back in shape or to lose weight, but also as a way to feel alive, strong and confident.

The 44-year-old mother of four children has now reaped the personal benefits of running that go way beyond the physical health benefits. Born in Petaling Jaya and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Nurfaizah can be spotted running with the active ladies from the Malaysia Women Runners Facebook group and the Gombak LSD (Long Slow Distance running) team.

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ToughASIA chatted with Nurfaizah on her running journey – so addictive that her eldest son and daughter have now followed in her footsteps too.

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

Nurfaizah: I started running around February 2017 all because I wanted to lose weight. After marriage and having kids, my weight jumped from 54kg to 73kg. Subsequently, I often had knee pain and wanted to get back in shape badly.

Initially, I only did fast walks and slowly increased my stamina to a jog-walk-jog. After a few months, I was consistent in running at least 4 times a week, and realised my overall health became better and my immune system and metabolism level have improved.

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For me, running is an extremely efficient way to burn calories, lose weight and improve my energy level. I am so grateful that I can lose weight to 58kg after a year in running and even maintain my weight then on.

My daily work routine in the Human Resource and Administrative department in the food manufacturing industry is quite busy and intense. Therefore, running after work is a great cure for stress, emotional strain, and even mild depression for me. Running can really boost my mood and I can have a good, deep sleep at night.

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The Dragonback at Meru, Selangor is one of Nurfaizah’s favourite running routes.

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running locations and routes?

Nurfaizah: Usually, I would run the same loops around my neighbourhood. However, I also run at my favourite locations and routes at the Dragonback in Meru, Genting Sempah (Route 68) in Gombak and Putrajaya.

Overall, I run at least 4 times a week over a distance of 5km to 10km on weekdays and during weekends, at least 15km to 25km.

ToughASIA: What is your proudest achievement or moment in running?

Nurfaizah: I feel proud of myself when I was crossed the finish line for my virgin half and full marathon distances, achieving much lower than my expected timings. Furthermore, even though I am in the senior women or women veteran category, my finishing time is competitive enough to beat someone in the younger below-40 age group category.

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ToughASIA: What are your thoughts on virtual runs?

Nurfaizah: For a person who is on a tight schedule with my daily routine work, I love to sign up for virtual runs to motivate myself. This enables me to keep up with my active lifestyle and my running momentum.

The virtual run is a new trend in the running community which I find beneficial because of their flexible timing. You will not be thinking of any parking problems, crowded areas, missing the flag-off gun and the nervous feeling at the official starting line.

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One of the benefits of joining a virtual run is the connection with the running community. You may have friends that live in different places but you can still connect with them by signing up for the same virtual race and have the same goal, which makes the run more exciting.

It is so much fun and you feel the accomplishment and create memories when you run the race distance, upload your finishing time, and claim your medal or finisher T-shirt.

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Running on Genting Sempah’s Route 68 is another of Nurfaizah’s favourite.

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

Nurfaizah: All runners started the year with great running plans, marked all the races they signed up in the diary, personal best aspirations and exciting goals. However, all that disappeared due to COVID-19 pandemic.

As for myself, I will keep on going in 2021 even though I have to run solo on my local paths and trails, running in the neighbourhood or even at the park. This will enable me to keep up the healthy, active lifestyle and the momentum. I believe with this challenging situation, it will help me run better and keeping myself motivated beyond race day.

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