Just when you think you're tough enough


Triathlon Coaches Sue Teoh, Jessen Lee, Aldrian Yeo and Edwin Thiang Switch Gears in 2020

Triathlon coaches (L-R): Aldrian Yeo, Edwin Thiang, Sue Teoh and Jessen Lee

Coaches usually set goals for their trainees, but what happens when the circumstances change and they need to reset goals for themselves?

ToughASIA spoke to 4 triathlon coaches – Sue Teoh, Jessen Lee, Aldrian Yeong and Edwin Thiang – who were avidly racing in triathlon themselves until the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Sue Teoh and Jessen Lee were often seen racing in off-road triathlon races, namely Xterra in Malaysia and overseas. They also conducted clinics and workshops to improve trail running and mountain biking (MTB) skills for the general public in and around the Klang Valley too. Additionally, Sue had previously represented Malaysia at the 2015 SEA Games and was initially looking forward to racing at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand this year.

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Last seen representing Malaysia at the 2019 SEA Games in Triathlon, Aldrian Yeo is recently a proud father of two sons. Usually a coach who motivates his squad to train well, Aldrian found him in a different situation as the pandemic struck.

Often moving at a breakneck speed, up and coming young triathlon talent Edwin Thiang finally took the time to slow down to improve himself. Edwin represented Malaysia at the 2019 SEA Games in triathlon too.

ToughASIA: Did the MCO enable you to review yourself in a different ways: sporting abilities, sporting goals and achievements and mental state?

Jessen Lee: During the MCO, we found ways to cope and adapt with the restrictions and changes – from spending hours on indoor cycling smart trainers to doing group workouts on video calls. These activities definitely helped keep our spirits high and our mind sane.

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Sue Teoh: Goals had to be changed, so instead of focusing on racing, I worked on improving my coaching skills and did the IRONMAN University Coach certification. With this knowledge, I created an online strength workout class for swimmers as I could not do any swim coaching, and the swimmers needed something to help keep them from getting too de-conditioned when the pools reopened.

Furthermore, I created some Instagram posts to give others an idea of what strength training exercises they could do in their own homes. so it was more about helping out other people rather than focusing on my own training.

Aldrian Yeo: I felt really down for a bit of time during MCO especially after knowing it was being extended and I remembered seeing a post on Facebook reflecting this situation with animals being caged up in zoo and their mental state! That really put things in perspective.

What kept me going was the daily group workout with my GoGetter Triathlon Squad. We were on a same training plan for Zwift and also land exercises. As a squad, we would conduct it together while chatting, joking and keeping one another accompanied by Zoom video calls. That made things a bit easier for me.

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Training with his squad motivated coach Aldrian instead.

Edwin Thiang: MCO actually gave me the time and space to start my base training properly. I finally had time to slow things down (training) and do all the basic, easy and long sessions to build my base fitness and endurance, which is really good for me.

Besides, with the advice and support from my coach Rupert Chen, I have also decided to use this opportunity during MCO to take up online triathlon coaching courses to widen my knowledge and to learn new things in my field.

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Edwin Thiang slowed down to improve and give himself new goals.


ToughASIA: Did the lockdown imposed during this MCO interfere with any of your plans? If so, how did you overcome it?

Jessen Lee: Yes, definitely. We had XTERRA Taiwan (off-road triathlon/duathlon) in March 2020 and a few more local races that were in the pipelines. Despite the disparity, we intended to organise a fun off-road duathlon simulation but that too was cancelled due to travel restrictions.

Instead, we refocused our energy on getting a large base training and plenty of online social activities, or organising small training groups just to keep ourselves entertained while committed to a goal or specific targets.

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Jessen Lee often conducts clinics and training groups for mountain biking around the Klang Valley.

Sue Teoh: Yes, as there were no races, (my A-race was supposed to be the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand), my training strategy changed from getting race ready to going back to building on my aerobic base and working on strengths.

Furthermore, I completed some virtual races with IRONMAN within my own home compound to challenge myself. It was certainly a first for me, running 21km around my own house! I think it is all about being flexible in life, being able to adjust your goals according to circumstances and getting your priorities right.

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Instead of racing, Sue Teoh turned to advance herself with coaching certificates.

Aldrian Yeo: Yes, it did. About 30 of us from the GoGetters were supposed to race the IRONMAN Austria triathlon in July. That all went down the drain.

But what I realised was, I actually needed a bit of a break. This is because the preparations for the 2019 SEA Games was really exhausting and stressful with both Serena and I having to train, learning to manage and take care of our first child at the same time. A bit of a  break in 2020 was much welcomed.

Edwin Thiang: The MCO definitely did interfere with my plans but instead, I tried to be calm and look things in a different way.

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Jessen looks forward to epic challenges in endurance and off-road sports, in 2021


ToughASIA: What are your achievements for 2020?

Jessen Lee: For 2020, not many personal records have been broken. But we did manage to complete a tough 100km MTB ride in Selangor.

The preparation was pretty straightforward with a build up of mileage throughout the weeks leading up to the big ride. Morning itself on D-day was wet and muddy, it really made things tougher and challenging. One of the longest MTB rides we had ever done.

Sue Teoh: Getting my Ironman University Coach certification and getting 99% on my final assessment too! Doing virtual IMVR races all within my home compound.

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A whole new meaning to training with the family for Aldrian and his son

Aldrian Yeo: A new family member, our second child was born 2 weeks ago. That is the highlight for me in 2020.

Edwin Thiang: Overall in 2020, I have managed to improve on my cycling and running. In the recent KL Standard Chartered Marathon Virtual Race, I ran my second fastest 10km, which I am very pleased about.

Also, with the support from CHG Rehab, I have improved quite a lot on my overall strength and form as we have been working a lot on my weaker muscles and my body posture. Adding on, I managed to pass all the online triathlon coaching courses I have taken, which I am very happy about!

Last but not least, I successfully launched my own cycling apparel brand, Motion. I have been wanting to do this for quite some time, and I have finally had the time to do it and to step out of my comfort zone to start this online business.

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2020 is not that bad after all, as Edwin successfully launched his own cycling apparel brand.

ToughASIA: What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Jessen Lee: Well, definitely looking forward to more epic challenges in endurance and off-road sports, new hobbies, new beginnings and good times with great people. Got to keep our sights on the bright side, hopefully there will be rainbows at the end of the tunnel.

Sue Teoh: Looking forward to being able to race again, especially overseas.

Edwin Thiang: For 2021, I am hoping that the Covid-19 issue will be stabilised. Other than that, I am hoping that I can get back to organizing triathlon events in the second half of 2021 as well as racing, including the SEA Games in Vietnam.