With the Ironman marathon in Langkawi only 5 months and 25 days away, Langkawi Mai Mai caught up with our favourite marathon participant and all around fitness enthusiast, Dr. Amelia Shelton. Langkawi Mai Mai got an in depth purview on her preparation for the race after going through the gruelling 15km Tuba Trail marathon only a week prior to this interview.
The Tuba Trail first started in 2016 as one of Langkawi’s efforts to promote eco-tourism. Moving into its fourth year, this race that takes place in an enchanted forest surrounded by caves and limestone galore still manages to entice even the novice of marathoners.
This year’s race took place on the 20th of April 2019 with a few categories of 4km, 15km and 30km for the participant to choose from. To join the race it was as easy as registering online, showing up on the day of the race at 7.00am (Pekan Rabu Jetty in Kuah) and have a ferry whisk you 15 minutes away to Tuba Island.
Dr Amelia signed up for the Tuba Trail for the first time this year and she shares her experience training for it as a precursor to the Ironman triathlon coming up this October.
Dr. Amelia Shelton, thank you for sitting with Langkawi Mai Mai and let me start off with asking, how was your preparation for the Tuba Trail marathon?
Thanks! Basically I trained almost every day focusing on endurance training. I would start with running between 5 – 6km a day with the focus of running at different inclination levels as you know with the Tuba Trail, it’s a combination of hiking and running. I also keep up with my usual routine of training for the Ironman with swimming and cycling which really helped me with the stamina and endurance I needed for the Tuba Trail.
Is it fair to say that going through the Tuba Trail perhaps in a way prepare you for the upcoming Ironman or did it disrupt your preparations?
There are of course certain differences with a “trail run” like the Tuba Trail and the Ironman. For starters, in Ironman you run on a flat road and you can keep to a steady ascertained pace. In Tuba however, the roads are not steady and there are times you have to keep switching between running on a flat road and the next minute you’re running off road trying to dodge stones and pebbles!
I had to look down to see what I had to avoid as much as looking up to see where I was going (laughs). It was challenging to say the least as I’ve never done such races before.
But with that being said, the amount of mental strength that you need to exercise for this particular race was a paramount learning experience for me. I’m sure there will be times during the Ironman race especially during the transition of swimming to cycling and to running, that you will need a lot of mental strength to push yourself forward.
But seeing how the Tuba Trail is a challenging terrain, weren’t you slightly concerned that it could lead to an injury and that could put your Ironman training in jeopardy?
There is definitely a risk of injury when you participate in a trail marathon, especially if it’s your first time. I actually had a scare halfway into the race. I was hiking up for about 2.5km and subsequently hiking down for another 1km or so. Once you descend down, you can’t exactly run as it is a single trail and there are a lot of other people around hiking up and down with you.
I guess I was over zealous when I descended and was ready to run straight away. I, of course completely forgot the fact that I was still in a forest. With that forgetfulness, I ended up injuring myself. My leg got caught between the roots of a tree and I fell face first, injuring my toes as well in the process. So a piece of advice for anyone going for a trail run, always look out for obstructions!
No trail runs then for you anytime soon! At least until the Ironman marathon is completed.
Yes! However I did enjoy the trail run experience. I wouldn’t necessarily do it in a competition capacity but I do intend to do trail running as part of my training for Ironman but doing it at my own time and pace. The transition in terrains equipped with the always pushing yourself further mentality are crucial for my Ironman training.
What was the most interesting part of the Tuba Trail for you?
There was one part where we had to run through the forest, and we caught a glimpse of the blue sea… it was just so beautiful to experience. I had to take a moment to appreciate my surroundings and I think it is important for race participants to do that. Just have a moment to appreciate where you are and not just have a tunnel vision to the finish line.
Any other competitions you’re taking part in before the Ironman?
I usually go with the flow but I do have the LEKAS Highway Ride in Kajang. That’s a 78km bike ride. I’m also selected to participate in the SUKAN KKM (Ministry of Health Malaysia Sports Event) coming soon as well.
Well Langkawi Mai Mai can’t wait to hear all about your upcoming challenges in our next interview.
This is the second article in our Road To Ironman series with Dr. Amelia Shelton where we follow her training journey to her first triathlon. She recommends 5km running routes in Langkawi in the first article.
Text by Mohamed