Singapore #Fitspo of the Week Wendy Yeoh: ‘Running was the first thing I felt really proud of’

Singapore #FitspooftheWeek Wendy Yeoh is a Finance Administration Manager. (Photo: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond numbers on the scale and your body is capable of even more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspiring men and women living healthy and active lifestyles in Singapore. Do you have anyone to recommend? Kill cheryl Above Instagram Or Facebook!

Name: Wendy Yeoh (@angelrun.diary)

age: 40+

Height: 1.68m

weight: 53.5 kg

profession: finance manager manager

Situation: two daughters are married

Eat: From February this year, I started paying more attention to what I eat because I wanted to have a healthier lifestyle, look and feel better. I track my food macros daily and try to consume more high protein foods. I also avoid most processed foods if possible. This diet works great for me so far.

Exercise: I follow a very disciplined exercise routine for myself. Every week, I run twice, work out at the gym twice and do home workouts twice. I also make sure that I walk at least 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day.

Q: Were you active in sports when you were younger?

Answer: I would say I was. I was part of the volleyball school team and also played many ball games such as netball and table tennis in secondary school. Even though I hated running when I was younger.

What did you do as you grew up?

Since turning 30, I’ve enjoyed trying different types of fitness. Besides running, I did barre, Pilates, boxing and spinning and I enjoyed them all.

Currently, I go to the gym twice a week and I feel like strength training has really helped me with my running and other areas of my life, so I’m sticking to the gym workouts right now.

Wendy started running to stay healthy to take care of her daughters.

Wendy started running to stay healthy to take care of her daughters. (Photo: Cheryl Tay)

How did you get into running?

I spent a large part of my 20s struggling with dizziness and poor health. When my daughters were 30, I decided that in order to take good care of them and be a good role model, I needed to be healthy. So I started looking for exercise like badminton or squash because ball games were all I knew from secondary school. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any friends to join me.

One day, feeling very discouraged, I decided to try running because I could do it alone. I wore a very old pair of running shoes and went to the running track near my workplace and ran five laps around the track. This was the most painful and difficult race I have ever done. However, I felt great about myself.

Even though the first attempt was difficult, I continued running. As time went on, running became easier and I made friends at the track and also in running clubs. Running friends inspired me to join races to motivate me to run more often. I became very motivated because there was a goal to achieve in every race. Running became a platform for me to release my stress and frustration as well as to relax me.

Your running journey has taken you to many places.

I ran at least one overseas race per year from 2015 to 2019. I raced in Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong. If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have gone to Australia for a race in May 2020. Each overseas race brought new memories, gave me a variety of learning experiences and prepared me to become a stronger runner and person.

My first overseas race was a 25km race in Penang and I didn’t study the route well before signing up. In the end, I needed to run to Penang Hill, where there was no traffic control on the roads from the organiser’s side. It was a scary and difficult experience but completing it before the cutoff time was an achievement for me.

Then I went to Hong Kong for a half-marathon during the winter. This was my first winter race and I didn’t know how to prepare. After all I wasn’t properly dressed for the race and I wasn’t prepared for the slopes in Hong Kong. I didn’t do well in the race but it was a memorable first winter race for me.

The following year I went to Taipei again in the winter for a half-marathon. I thought I would be more well prepared since I had run winter races before. Unfortunately, the weather changed drastically that year. The temperature on race day was zero degrees, bitterly cold and difficult. I managed to finish the race just a few minutes before the cut-off time.

Keeping in mind my desire to run a full marathon abroad, I next headed to Japan. The Nagoya Marathon was my dream because it was a women’s race and the medal was a Tiffany & Co. pendant! Unfortunately, halfway through my marathon training, I got badly injured. Before the race I had to go to the physiotherapist several times. I was so worried I wouldn’t be able to run. But I persevered and completed it much less than the cutoff time. The weather was good, the course was great and the Japanese supporters were great. Whenever I remember this race it still thrills my heart. When I reached the finish line and received my medal I cried with joy.

I did another marathon the following year in Kyoto. I love running in Japan. The supporters were amazing and supportive. As we passed by some houses, supporters came out and gave us fruits. I also did another Taipei Half-Marathon that same year.

All the overseas marathons I have done are very dear to me and I will keep these memories close to my heart.

Wendy went to at least one overseas racing event every year from 2015 to 2019.

Wendy went to at least one overseas racing event every year from 2015 to 2019. (Photo: Cheryl Tay)

How has running helped you deal with your personal struggles?

I struggled a lot growing up, as someone who lacked confidence and had low self-esteem. I also found it difficult to trust people. This was all due to the bullying experiences I had in primary school because I was a poor student and had hearing problems. It also didn’t help that I had a brother who excelled in studies and was the pride of my parents.

These struggles also affected me at work, as I often felt I was not good enough and rejected new opportunities. Thus, I was not able to progress much in the initial years of my career, although I was indeed a hard-working person. This distanced me from people even more because I felt that my work was not appreciated.

Running was the first thing I felt proud of myself for, especially after completing a race. It was through running that I began to open up to more people, especially those who ran with me. When they slowed down to run with me or waited for me to finish the race, it really impressed me.

I still have to face these personal struggles from time to time, but I can deal with them better now. Most of the time, I try my best to focus on the positive side rather than the negative. It’s not easy, but it can be done!

You’ve had injuries over the years that have affected your running.

Initially, I could not cope with my injury and manage it well. Since running was very important to me, I continued running even when I got injured. After each injury, I went to the physiotherapist and each time I was told to stay away from running for a few weeks. However, I was very impatient. Before I fully recovered, I would start running again and get injured again.

This continued for the next few years until the circuit breaker. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I ran less and seemed to be getting better. I thought I had finally recovered, but found myself re-injured during a long run in December 2021.

That was kind of the last straw for me and after that injury I stopped running altogether. I continued exercising by doing workouts like Pilates and spin. However, I felt that I had become even weaker, but one day I fell during a workout and realized that something was not right for me.

Following the advice of a friend, I decided to seek professional help and go to the gym for strength training. After gym workouts under the supervision of a trainer made me feel stronger, I slowly started running. I started again at a really slow pace, like a new runner. I ran at a pace of 9 min/km for 3 km and gradually moved up. I am happy to say that I am now able to run pain free and run longer distances.

Wendy was very impatient to return from racing injuries.

Wendy was very impatient to return from racing injuries. (Photo: Cheryl Tay)

What are your goals in running now?

Since I started running comfortably (without any pain or injury) in June this year, I’ve been taking it slow and learning to appreciate the incremental progress I’ve made in my running. My running goal at this point is to complete three half-marathon races in top form and condition this year. I hope to perform better and stronger in each race.

When you were young, did anything happen to you that made you feel insecure about yourself?

During primary school, there was a girl who always bullied me. He gathered all my classmates to ostracize me and they laughed at my poor academic results and my appearance. I was always alone in class and I didn’t like going to school. I was not able to trust my parents because I would get scolded in return. I felt so unsafe and alone because I felt I had no one to turn to in this world.

Things got better when I went to secondary school and met better classmates and friends. However, when my teacher found out that I was having some hearing problems and an ENT specialist confirmed it, I became even more insecure.

I viewed life very negatively and I never dared to move towards new opportunities, remaining only within very safe boundaries until much later in my life.

When did you feel least confident about yourself?

I was at my least confident when I was 20, when a severe vertigo attack caused my hearing to deteriorate even further. At the time, I had just earned my degree and thought things were going better for me. When I lost much of my hearing, I felt like a failure and sank into depression and started thinking badly about myself.

It was only when I completed my first marathon that I became more confident. Running a marathon was hard, but when I adjusted my mindset and gave myself more chances, I accomplished a lot of things. So when my then director gave me a chance to work on a new project and it was a huge success, I was very happy. Since then, I have always worked with an ‘I can do this’ mentality.

Do you get any comments about your body?

In middle school, my nickname used to be Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl. It was because I was thin and tall like him. At first I didn’t mind, but one day my classmates told me that olive oil is as flat as a bamboo stick, and then I realized that’s what they thought about me. Somehow at that time, I was able to ignore the comment and it was later forgotten as I did not respond to the comment.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Wendy Yeoh.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Wendy Yeoh. (Photo: Cheryl Tay)

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