Striking a balance in life may be as simple as carving out time regularly to indulge in an activity, or two, of your choice. Yahoo Shopping chats with personalities who share their passion for a sport or wellness activity they enjoy, which helps them take on the world with zeal. We hope this monthly series will inspire you to find an interest that will add that sparkle to your life.
Singapore’s fastest Ironman athlete Choo Ling Er, beat the Men’s record and has been ranked #1 for the Ironman All-World Athlete (AWA) Age Group Ranking three times. The triathlete, ultra-marathoner and Hoka athlete laps up the thrills of fitness challenges from three different sports: running, cycling, and swimming which pushes her to go faster and stronger with each race. Ling Er is also a 6th-time KONA Ironman World Championship finisher and the only athlete in the region to achieve this. Using her shining achievements as a platform, she hopes to be a beacon for aspiring female athletes to not conform to societal norms and pursue their athletic aspirations. You can also find her injecting inspiration during spin classes, where she is a part-time spin instructor.
If you want something, don't procrastinate and wait for help. Instead, you should work hard for it.Choo Ling Er, Singapore's fastest Ironman athlete
Yahoo Life Singapore: What is one sport, fitness or wellness activity you love, and how did you get started?
Choo Ling Er: I picked up a triathlon during my polytechnic days and fell in love with it. Before that, I have been a runner all along. During my second year at the polytechnic, I got injured and had to stop running for three months. While recovering, I decided to pick up swimming. I did my first interschool biathlon (swim-run event) within the same year. I got to know a couple of multi-sports athletes (triathletes) during the event. They encouraged me to get a bike to try a triathlon, and I have never looked back since! It challenges me to want to perfect each of the three disciplines, and even today, I am still learning to perfect it!
What are its benefits, and what do you love about it?
Triathlon is a sport that provides a full-body workout. It gives me the flexibility to go for a swim to train my upper body whenever my legs are too sore from all the cycling and running. In general, sports are essential. To excel at a sport, one must be highly disciplined and committed to getting in shape and having optimal physical health. When I train, I love the feeling of being focused, of being in my world and without any worries. This allows me to approach life with much more clarity!
How often do you indulge in it, and with whom?
My weekly training routine as a full-time triathlete takes up approximately 30 hours. This excludes my upkeep with massages or with a chiropractor. As triathlon is an individual sport, I typically train alone on most weekdays and with a small group of friends over the weekend, where we ride our bikes.
What gear/tools/attire do you need or wear when engaging in the sport or wellness activity?
Finis Energy Swim Goggles – I use a pair of goggles from Finis for my swims, which I love as it doesn’t leak. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having a good pair of goggles and not having to constantly stop and adjust them during the swim due to poor visibility caused by leaks.
Roka Matador Air Sunglasses – These shades protect my eyes from the sun for long hours of training during my cycling and running sessions.
Canyon Speedmax CFR Triathlon Bike – A good bike that doesn't require many upgrades further down the road is essential. I made the mistake of thinking I could buy a cheaper bike and upgrade slowly. However, I ended up spending more than if I were to go for a decent bike right from the start.
HOKA Carbon X Running Shoes – I need a lightweight and stable shoe to help me with my runs. I am a big fan of the HOKA Carbon X for my training, which has more cushioning and provides me with more support for my daily runs.
HOKA Rocket X Racing Shoes – I use these shoes for my races! The Rocket X is lighter and provides a more responsive launch from the ground.
In 2009, you were involved in a near-fatal accident, and the doctor diagnosed you as partially handicapped. How was it like then, and how did you bounce back?
Having positive people around me was critical for my trajectory and recovery. I didn’t have time to ponder and despair about why the accident happened to me. All I did was focus on what I could do to get better. Once the doctor gave me the green light to be off the crutches in 2010, I immediately signed up for the Kapas Marang Swimathon; a 6.5km swim from Kapas Island to Mainland Terengganu.
After the swimathon, I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Camsur, Philippines. The weather was scorching, and all the competitors were walking during the running leg of the race. I kept telling myself to keep putting one foot after another, and it felt like I was in a trance. Before I knew it, I finished the race and came in first! That's when I decided to get serious and kickstarted my journey in triathlon!
Please share with us one thing you learnt from this sports activity or what you wish others to discover about it.
I learned never to let anyone, or anything, set a ceiling to what you can or cannot achieve. For example, when I first broke my leg, countless people told me to forget my sporting career, get a corporate job, and conform. Subsequently, when my husband had a stroke, numerous people told me to quit the triathlon and focus on my responsibility of looking after him. If I had listened to them, I wouldn't be where I am today with my achievements.
As a well-known figure, what is one way you inject positivity to the public?
Many women have come up to me, telling me that they feel inspired, but they do not dare take the risk to pursue something they want. Now that I am a new mother, it is even more important to set a good example for my daughter to be fearless in what she wants to pursue. And this can only be done by demonstrating it myself. I surround myself with positive people. Most importantly, my husband has been instrumental in my success. My quality of work is a reflection of the culture and people I built around me. Whatever negativity I may have, I make it a point to get it out and not dwell on it.
You recently became a mother. How has this transformed your training schedule, and could you share with us some of your daily challenges and how you are coping with/overcoming them?
I shower my baby girl a few times weekly to maintain a connection with her. I also bring her outdoors twice a week as she loves looking, staring and processing the world.
I used to worry that I could not be a good parent as I was the 'alpha' athlete in Singapore and would prioritise my sporting career over my kid. No one is ever born ready to be a parent. But what we can do is be the best we can be as a parent. Thankfully, my husband has been my pillar of support. Despite his very demanding job, he has been extremely accommodating in our roles as new parents. Having a clear line of communication with each other works wonders. Our goal is always to spend quality time while looking after our baby girl, Kira.
If there is any part of being a new parent I struggled with initially as an athlete, it would be coping with breast pumping. Thankfully, through a recommendation by a friend, I engaged a fantastic lactation consultant from Oriental Jammu who helped me with my breast pumping schedule. I used to start my workouts early and rush home after taking day breaks. I am now on three daily breast pumping sessions, which should last comfortably for my baby's feeding until she's six months old!
Is there a phrase or quote you live by that inspires you daily?
If you want something, don't procrastinate and wait for help. Instead, you should work hard for it.