Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh

Cheryl Tay
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Serena Teoh will represent Singapore in women's marathon at the upcoming SEA Games in the Philippines. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more. Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook.

Name: Serena Teoh (@serenaaateoh)

Age: 31

Height: 1.58m

Weight: 42kg

Occupation: Risk Manager

Status: Married

Diet: I do not have a specific kind of diet, but I try my best to get good carbs, proteins and fats for each meal of the day. In between meals, I may snack on nuts and bananas. After a hard workout, I would take a whey protein shake.

Training: It depends on what period of the year I am in. When I am training for the marathon, I follow my coach’s plan which would entail running about six times a week. When I am not training for the marathon, I do not count the number of days I train, I just enjoy working out and doing other things like spinning and Pilates.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Serena Teoh began running consistently after moving to Switzerland for work five years ago. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Q: What sports did you do growing up?

A: Because of my chronic childhood asthma, my father put me into swimming since eight years old. However, there wasn’t swimming in the girls’ school I was in, so I joined the symphonic band. Later in my academic life, I joined the college swim team and university aquathlon team.

What sports did you get into as you got older?

Sports was never something I was passionate and consistent in while growing up. After graduation, work and social life superseded sports, and I was not working out regularly at all. It was only after I moved to Switzerland for work five years ago that I started to pick up sports and running consistently.

When did you start running more competitively?

I would say during my time in Switzerland. I learnt that running may be an individual sport, but the happiness and success of achieving your goals will never be without your teammates.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Serena Teoh qualified for the SEA Games after clocking 3hrs 23sec in her Tokyo Marathon run in March. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Did you ever expect to be representing Singapore in the marathon for the upcoming SEA Games?

Initially, no, as it was out of pure passion that I started running consistently. However as time went by and I saw that my timings were improving, it started becoming a thought that perhaps one day I would be able to represent Singapore.

When did this possibility first come to mind?

When I started improving my times and saw that I could have a chance for the Games, I started thinking about it. During the Frankfurt Marathon in 2017 when I clocked 3hr 1min, it gave me confidence that I could potentially get there. I knew that I was close to the qualifying mark and decided to give the next SEA Games qualification a try.

What are some of your best achievements thus far?

I guess my best achievement would be clocking 1:22:07 to finish fourth at the Gran Canaria half-marathon this January, and then running the Tokyo Marathon in 3:00:23 in March to qualify for the SEA Games.

How do you balance work, training and life?

In Switzerland it was easier, as the city I was living in was much smaller. I could walk to work in five minutes and to my gym in two minutes, and work always ended on time as the culture in Europe is quite different. Thus I always had no problems going for evening training.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Serena Teoh feels that taking part in marathon has taught her to be a strong person physically, mentally and emotionally. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)

Now, having moved back to Singapore, it is quite a big change with a new job and unfortunately together with having to cope with training amid an injury, I am still learning to try and find a balance.

What are your fitness goals now?

To try my best and make it to the start line of the SEA Games, and after that take a good physical and mental break, focusing on active recovery and letting my injuries heal.

When did you feel the least confident about yourself?

I guess I did not have to deal with over- or under-confidence so far in life. There are times when I feel sad whenever I encounter certain shortcomings in life, but I eventually learn to accept them and move on. The marathon has taught me to be a stronger person physically, mentally and emotionally.

Do you get any comments about your body?

Not really, just the occasional “You are too skinny”. For me, size is not as important as being healthy, and I know that I am small-built but so long as I am eating well and feeling healthy, I am satisfied.

Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)
Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Serena Teoh. (PHOTO: Cheryl Tay)