Phan Hui Fong, better known as Vicky, had been a victim of bullying in her childhood. One day, she decided take her life by the reigns and started running.

The 38-year old home baker and direct sales agent hailing from Ipoh, Perak shares with ToughASIA how running has been a life motivator and is now very much a part of her life.

ToughASIA: Why and when did you start running?

Vicky: I grew up fat and was always made fun of by my classmates. I still remember whenever it came to physical exercise sessions, I would be hiding away just to avoid being embarrassed. It was during a family gathering where one of my relatives told my parents that I was ugly and fat. That was the moment I decided “enough is enough”.

I told myself I wanted to look like other kids and that I did not want to continue to live such a pitiful life. That was when I started my very first run.

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Vicky Phan: Exercise really can change a person, physical n mentally.

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

Vicky: When I first started running in 2015, it was because of my past experiences in life but as time goes by, running has become a part of me.

“Living healthy and strong” have been my greatest motivation now.

I love this healthy lifestyle! Besides running, I go to the gym and cycle too. I work out about 5-6 days a week on average.

ToughASIA: Where are your favourite running locations?

Vicky: I’m based in Perak and the Ipoh Botani International School route, is a hilly route good for interval training. And Ipoh – Pusing trail is good for a relaxing or endurance run.

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

Vicky: It was a 2019 Saucony 30km race and usually, I can complete 21km runs easily. So, I thought that additional 9km would be easy but at the 25km mark, my legs cramped until I could not walk. It was suffering to complete the race; I took 3hrs 18min. From that moment on, I realised that endurance training is very important to add in my training program.

ToughASIA: What is your proudest moment in running?

Vicky: I managed to achieve my personal best timing at the 2019 Mizuno run and completed my first marathon at Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon in 2019.

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

Vicky: The most difficult part in running – to me – is willpower.

It is something that blocks me from progressing when I first started out running. It is even more difficult when I have to wake up early in the morning going for long runs. Now I wake up at 4.30am every morning, and by 5.30am, I will start my workout. It really helps me to increase my mental strength.

ToughASIA: Are you looking forward to any race in particular?

Vicky: I hope the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon and I look forward to go for abroad races such as Tokyo marathon, to travel and create more running memories.