Edan’s story is an inspiration born of despair. He may have started his running journey in 2008, but his real journey through pain and overcoming began in 2011, when his mom passed away in December 2009.
“And all I could realize was that life is too short. That pushed me to do something worthwhile in my life.”
To pay tribute to his dearest mother, he ran his first full marathon in Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon and finished in 3:07:56 hours. At the finish line, tears streamed down his face, bringing both his hands to his face in disbelief and gratitude. Hailed as the second fastest Malaysian to finish the race, Edan knew since then what he is capable of doing.
A Self-Coached Athlete
He did what many of us are afraid to do: he created a platform for himself and became a self-coached athlete. The Internet was at his disposal as he learned through a series of trial and error the training program that befits him.
“The important aspect to consider is the weather. A lot of Western-style training programs are done in cooler climates; hence, you should not follow every schedule. I tested almost all of them to see what suits my body, and I learned that the key is to adapt to your own pace. See how your body reacts after every km.”
No Time to Waste
The first thing Edan does is plan out his year—and stick to it. He then spends time with his family when he is tapering.
“That’s my time to socialize. Other than that, I am always training and working.”
Edan is currently working as a coach for Athlete’s Circle. “I came upon Athlete’s Circle, when I ran my first race. I did not have a watch to run the race, so they hooked me up with Polar. Later on, I joined the company as a part-timer, and now I am working full time for them.
“ I train the athletes my way. I easily gauge their capability based on their heart rate. I make sure that everyone has a Polar heart rate monitor whenever they join ACEndurance. By reading their data, I group them and design a suitable training program accordingly.”
During the interview, a beep sound goes off. “That’s my phone alarm reminding me it’s time to eat (It was tea time!). I schedule everything and set an alarm for it. This ensures I never forget or miss a meal.
“No to food with too much oil. My favourite and best go-to food will be spaghetti and chicken. I completely stay away from Nasi Lemak. I pretty much eat anything that helps me achieve a good training time. The food I eat must contribute to both my training and my race.” He adds, “My food before race consists of light carbs.” Edan sheds some light on this,
“Not many people understand carbo-loading. The correct way of carbo loading is that the carbs taken must be proportionate to your body weight. You need to find out how much carbs your body absorb in an hour, then portion your food accordingly.”
“I’ve also realized that it is more difficult to do this overseas. I suggest finding an accommodation where you can prepare your own meals. When I was in Chicago, I made sure that the accommodation had a kitchen where I could cook my own food. In this way, you avoid falling victim to stomach disorders prior to race.
“And for my pre-race supplement, it’s all about High5 nutrition. I started with this supplement—churning out at least RM500 every 2 months before, but now I am lucky to be sponsored by High5 every year.”
“I am very selective when it comes to my gears. I make it a point to choose the correct gears at all times. I believe that with the right ones, performance is enhanced. Other than Polar and High5, I have Rudy Project for my eyewear and Asics for my shoes. In fact, I’ve been wearing the same type of Asics shoe since I started when I joined my first marathon. I do this so my body adapts to my shoe, allowing me to perform better.”
When he looks out there, he only sees one competition—himself
The Big Race: Boston Marathon 2015
Edan’s first world marathon major left him thirsty for more. In his first race in Chicago, he stood in line with 40,000 runners. What was even more exciting was that he was invited for the race based on a ballot pick.
He trained since January 2015, and on April 20th, Edan faced one of the harshest races he’s ever been in. All the runners suffered from the unforgiving 5 degrees Celsius, with rain and strong headwinds, especially heading up the infamous “Heartbreak Hill”.
Nevertheless, Edan Syah finished his race in 2 hours 41 minutes 55 seconds.
Today, two months after the Boston Marathon, he is already up, training harder and stronger for the next major race lined up in his calender. Edan’s goal is to complete the six world marathon majors!
Interview by Running Malaysia - July 23, 2015