Singapore man on how and why he ran 31 marathons in 31 days

Martial arts instructor Gerrard Lin made the headlines recently when he completed 31 marathons in 31 days to raise awareness of Singapore's Bone Marrow Donor Program. Previously, he had set himself a goal of completing a marathon with a 14kg tyre strapped around his waist.
PHOTO: Singapore man on how and why he ran 31 marathons in 31 days

SINGAPORE - Mr Gerrard 'Ah Siao' Lin made the headlines recently when he completed 31 marathons in 31 days to raise awareness of Singapore's Bone Marrow Donor Program (BMDP), the only bone marrow donor registry in Singapore.

The 30-year-old bachelor, who has adopted an alter ego called Ah Siao, or crazy, logged a mind-boggling distance of 1,302km in that period.

The martial arts instructor started running seriously only two years ago. Then, he ran a marathon while dragging a 10kg tyre to raise awareness of BMDP.

"I find that running for a cause is a great motivation," said Mr Lin, whose father is retired and mother, a part-time cleaner.

"Six people are diagnosed every day in Singapore with blood-related diseases such as leukaemia or lymphoma and a bone marrow transplant is often their only chance of survival," said Mr Lin, who signed up as a donor in 2008.

"But there is only a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match so I decided to become a BMDP ambassador in 2012 to raise awareness for this amazing cause."

Matching a donor to a patient is a complex process, particularly when they are not related. The odds vary widely, depending on the rarity of the patient's tissue type.

BMDP said last year that it had nearly 500 matches since it was set up in 1993. There are around 40,000 donors in the registry.

Mr Lin admitted it was "hellish" at times running the 31 marathons, but he ran with a signboard of the BMDP logo which reminded him of his purpose and that helped to spur him on. He stands 1.74m tall and weighs 63kg.

What do you do to keep fit?

I get up at 5.30am to run five or six days a week.

First, I do a proper warm-up for 10 to 30 minutes. I perform lunges, single leg hops, planks and sit-ups to activate my core muscles. I may also do some active stretching, usually on alternate days.

Then I do a 10-minute walk to get my heartbeat up to 120 beats per minute, followed by a 40-minute run.

At the end of the run, I do another 10-minute walk to get my body back to its normal state.

It is important to cool down.

My goal is to stay injury-free and to go to a race healthy.

How do you prepare for a race?

Ten weeks before a race, I run twice a day, almost every day. One of these runs will be up to three hours.

I also do one session of high-intensity interval training each week, and visit the gym at least once a week to lift heavy weights of up to 100kg.

Of course, the workout is only part of the equation. It is not only what you do during a workout, but what you do after the workout that matters. Your fitness levels can only rise if you recover well, so you need sufficient sleep and nutritious food. Processed foods are out.

What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

I exercise regularly, eat right and drink a lot of water. During one of the 31 marathons, I drank at least 8 litres of water.

Singapore is very humid so it's important to keep hydrated.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

In my early 20s, I drank and partied and kept late nights. It took a big toll on my body. I was about 69kg then. I was not fat but I was unfit.

What is your diet like?

I eat a lot of eggs. I try to eat four or five eggs a day, and I usually add a tablespoon of butter and loads of olive oil to the eggs.

As a runner who sometimes logs as much as 160km a week, I need a lot of fuel. Eggs are the best food mother nature has to offer as they are loaded with high-quality proteins, vitamins and antioxidants.

I also eat kidney, liver, greens such as broccoli and fruits such as bananas and avocado.

What are your indulgences?

I have a soft spot for ice cream, the type sold from ice cream carts on the streets. When I am out for a run, I can never resist getting a slab of peppermint ice cream or a scoop of atap seed ice cream.

There are periods when I binge on junk food and eat irregularly.

It is about being mindful and not veering off too often.

How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Prioritise and focus on what is important. When I was doing the 31 marathons, I did not spend a lot of time on Facebook or e-mail messages. I made sure I had enough rest so that my body could recover and repair itself.

What are the three most important things in your life?

Me, myself and I.

Just kidding - on a more serious note, they would be happiness, love and the ability to love.

What are the three least important things in your life?

Me, myself and I - otherwise known as my ego.

Would you go for plastic surgery?

I want to be Shah Rukh Khan, Andy Lau, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp all rolled into one. Add a dash of George Clooney too.

Plastic surgery has its merits. I do not judge those who have gone for it, but I would like my happiness to be based on my abilities and the value of being myself.

I am a bit lacking in the looks department but it just forces me to be introspective and to develop my strengths. Looking good has its advantages but it is more important to be comfortable in your own skin.

Do you think you're sexy?

To me, being sexy is about the following:

1. Being comfortable with yourself;

2. Being confident about your own abilities;

3. Being passionate about the things that matter to you;

4. Standing up for your beliefs;

5. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, or beyond what you think is your limit, to test your capabilities and make a difference.

As my nickname "Ah Siao" suggests, I am a bit crazy. But I think that's also a part of being sexy. It's about having the guts to challenge the norm.

joyceteo@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 24 in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times. Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.