Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Jenny Huang

Strong is the new sexy and fitness is the new party. With society leaning towards health and fitness, Yahoo's #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to all inspirational women in Singapore leading active lifestyles. Know of any who deserve to be featured? Hit me up on and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).

Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay

Name: Jenny Huang (IG: @runnjennyrunn)
Age: 42
Height: 165 cm
Weight: 53.5 kg
Occupation: Physiotherapist
Status: Engaged
Diet: Mainly gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free (because my daughter has anaphylactic allergies to these); avoids deep fried foods, loves salads and steaks
Exercise: Runs 6 days a week with 1 day rest for full recovery; mileage ranges from 50-100km a week

How and when did you start running?
I only started running consistently every morning when my son turned three and started preschool here in Singapore in 2007.  It was a stress reliever for me as a full time, hands-on mom back then with two really young kids.

Did you use to run a lot when you were younger?
As a kid, I grew up in Spring, Texas, where we roamed the streets on our bikes and played with neighbours until the sun went down. I often got chased by dogs and I learned how to roller skate on my driveway. We did everything outdoors as much as we could. However, I never competed in any sports in school days.

When did you decide to start running races?
I think my first race was the 10km at the 2008 Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. I can't remember my timing but I remember seeing the full marathon runners going by after I had completed mine and thinking how I had so much energy left!  Seeing that inspired me to sign up for my first 42km the following year (which I did and finished in 3:51).

Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay

When did you start trail running and what do you like about it?
I started trail running when I signed up for my first trail race in 2011. I fell in love with trails and the downhill 'letting it all go' speed. I was so so so scared of the monkeys for quite some time though I am now able to run pass them without screaming.

What are some of your more significant achievements in running?
Winning the Sundown Ultramarathon (100km) in 2013 was pretty amazing. Winning last year's Great Eastern Half-marathon (21km) was awesome.  And this year, in October, I won The North Face 100km duo where my teamate Jasmine Goh and I did 50km each and raced in an open category against men. We said we'd try our best and didn't think we had a chance to come out top, but we fought like girls and we came out as the champions!

Honestly, I train for every race like I study for all my exams (back in school days).  I come prepared as much as I can.  For this last trail ultra, I trained on the treadmill because of the haze and was super anxious going into it. Yeah, I will never ever recommend training treadmill for trails!

How has running changed your life?
I am definitely more fit than I have ever been in my life; more fit at age 42 than in my teens or twenties!  Running has grounded me and has made me a more positive person.  It's set lifetime goals for me to stay fit no matter how busy or stressful my life can get.

How do you hope to inspire others?
Honestly, I just want people to see the possibilities of how fitness (starting at any age) can change one's life and to keep a positive mindset to stay healthy.  It's consistency and effort that makes anything worthwhile.

How do you hope to be a role model to other mums out there?
That as a mom, we sacrifice a LOT for our kids (we live to serve them really!), but we have to make time for ourselves and keep fit, keep our sense of our own person, keep strong when family life becomes overwhelming sometimes, and finding time for ourselves. Running not only makes us physically stronger, but mentally as well, to understand we can really take anything on, one step at a time.

Have you always been confident about your body?
HELL NO. I am still not confident about my body but I am confident as a person. I won't ever run with just my sports bra and shorts, but I like staying humble and modest with my body.

Are you satisfied with your body now and why?
I am content with my body because I know it's strong, I know I've trained it well to carry me through a competitive 100km trail!  I love feeling the strength of my body when I run.

Why should people make an effort to lead an active lifestyle?
To keep looking young; for vanity's sake if not anything else!  We all know it's for health and longevity, but you gotta look good while doing it.

You will gain more when you push outside your comfort zone; you will learn that all struggles are temporary; you will learn how strong you really are when you keep going.

Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay
Jenny Huang. Photo: Cheryl Tay