SINGAPORE - Anne Qi Hui, 32, has been the fastest female Singaporean marathon runner at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore since 2009.
But it was at the 2008 Berlin Marathon where she clocked her personal best of two hours and 50 minutes for a distance of 42km.
The former national hockey player switched to running out of curiosity about a decade ago.
That was in November 2002 and she had just three weeks to train for the Singapore Marathon the following month. She finished the race in three hours and 30 minutes.
Since then, she has taken part in two or three marathons a year, including one overseas.
At the Berlin Marathon, one of the largest and most popular road races in the world, she shaved about eight minutes off her previous personal best.
"It was easy to pace myself as many of the runners finished in under three hours. The weather, which was about 10 to 12 deg C, and the atmosphere, were great," she said.
She felt it was "surreal" when she finished 19th in the open category.
Ms Qi, who works as a trainer at Fitness Avenue, a fitness company she co-founded, said her dream is to run in the Boston Marathon.
This is because she gave up the opportunity to do so on a sponsored trip 10 years ago.
"I wasn't confident about travelling alone and could not speak English well then," she said.
She picked up the English language only after arriving here from Inner Mongolia in 1999, at age 18, to play hockey for Singapore full-time.
After a year, she became a Singapore citizen, playing for the country until 2007, when she decided to focus on running and her fitness business.
Once or twice a year, she visits her parents, who are also active. Her father runs 7km at least five times a week, while her mother skips 500 rounds a day.
Her parents, both 63, are retired and she has an elder sister. She is dating a Singaporean.
What do you do to keep fit?
I run every day except on Sundays. A session can last from 40 minutes to two hours.
I run only outdoors, at places such as Botanic Gardens and Sentosa. I love the sense of freedom and movement I get from running outdoors. It is a totally different experience from doing it indoors.
I also walk a lot and skip often. Furthermore, my work as a trainer keeps me active. I am constantly on the move.
How do you maintain your washboard abs?
It is not only from doing crunches but also about your posture and how you present yourself.
Everybody has abdominal muscles. When you carry yourself well, your muscles will be activated. It is a result of habit and lifestyle.
What is your secret to looking fabulous?
There is no secret. First, you have to believe that you are fabulous. You have to be confident.
Second, it is about living your life in a fabulous way. That includes eating right, exercising regularly and being happy. Once it becomes a part of your life, then you will be truly fabulous.
Also, eat only fresh food and drink "good water", which is plain water. Avoid soft drinks and coffee.
I usually drink warm water and, sometimes, I will put Goji berries in it.
Eating food that is less processed will ensure your body gets the proper nutrition it needs to feel good and function well.
I try to eat home-cooked meals as often as I can. I do not find it troublesome to cook wholesome food. Simplicity is key.
Exercise is also very important.
I try to sleep about seven hours a night. I think being around the people you love and those who love you will make you feel fabulous. Lastly, start your day with a big smile.
Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
When I first arrived in Singapore, I gained weight and reached 60kg because of the change in lifestyle and environment. But I was still fit.
What is your diet like?
I do not eat wheat, gluten, cakes and bread. I stay away from sugar and fried food.
I also do not eat processed food, deep-fried food, as well as anything with monosodium glutamate or artificial sweeteners. I do not diet.
When I go to a supermarket, I go only to the fresh food section.
I like steamed fish, vegetables, vegetable soup, scrambled eggs and yogurt.
I also like home-cooked North Indian food such as fish curry and chicken masala curry and will eat it once or twice a week.
I eat simply and when I am hungry. Knowing your body is the start to eating well. I know my body well enough to choose what is good for me.
I do not feel miserable about not eating cakes and deep-fried food because it is a choice I made.
When you eat processed food, you are reacting to the chemicals and not to the food. You confuse your taste buds.
If you do not overstimulate your taste buds, you will appreciate natural food much more.
What are your indulgences?
I like fresh fruit and having steamboat or barbecue dinners.
And sometimes, I do nothing at home except eat and sleep.
I do not have food indulgences. When I eat out, it is usually sushi, steamboat or Middle Eastern food.
How do you relax and maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I eat healthily, sleep well and keep active. I also try to take a daytime nap if I can. It refreshes me and I feel good when I return to work.
What are the three most important things in your life?
They would be my family, my dreams and my responsibilities.
Would you go for plastic surgery and why?
Yes, when the time comes and if that makes me happy.
Do you think you're sexy ?
Yes, I think I am sexy. Happy women are sexy women.
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