Diana Lee and her husband have also completed all six World Marathon Majors together.
With an increasing emphasis on sports and wellness these days, it’s definitely not difficult to find someone who has completed a marathon. But to find someone who has completed all six Abbott World Marathon Majors is an entirely different feat. To do so, one would have to successfully qualify for and complete six of the most renowned marathons in the world – the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons. To date, there have been less than 20 Singaporeans who make the list, but 53-year-old Diana Lee is one of them.
Diana picked up running when she was 17. Initially a casual runner, she started taking part in numerous 10km races and half marathons from 2006. Then, in 2009, she decided to challenge herself to complete her first marathon. Her husband Andrew Cheong, who is a running coach at SSTARfitness, told her that it was going to be tough but her mind was set. “Sure enough, my first marathon was a truly painful experience – but I loved it!” she says.
Since then, Diana has gone on to race more competitively and has stuck to a structured marathon training programme since four years ago. Through sheer grit, hard work and determination, she even managed to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2016 – a feat she never thought possible. These days, her average race timing hovers just under four hours.
This can-do spirit has always been a strong suit of Diana’s. In the past when her two boys were still young, she’d only start running after they fell asleep. “I’d leave the house at 11pm just to get my workout in,” she admits. Sounds exhausting? Not to Diana. “Exercising is as important to me as sleeping, so I don’t count that as a sacrifice,” she says.
These days, her schedule as the general manager for fashion and beauty at SPH Magazines is equally hectic and she works overtime on a regular basis. Still, running continues to be a priority and she makes it a point to leave by 6.30pm twice a week to train with a group of athletes under SSTARfitness. On Tuesdays, she runs 8km at speed work training; Thursdays are for 9-16km tempo runs and Saturdays are for longer runs that stretch 21-32km each time. Beyond her weekly runs, Diana also works on core exercises such as push-ups, lateral leg raises, wall sits and squats on a daily basis.
And for those who question the reality of the elusive runner’s high, let Diana’s conviction inspire you: “There are many reasons I love to run. It helps me stay in shape and de-stress from work. Being with fellow runners also gives me a sense of achievement and purpose. Above all though, I love running because I have the ability to control the outcome of my runs.”
This means adhering to a structured training programme, maintaining good health, getting proper nutrition and being disciplined with her strengthening and stretching exercises. “I truly enjoy the entire process and this is what has kept me motivated to race for the last four years. I’m older, but definitely faster, stronger and leaner.”
I work out because… I hate to be fat and unfit.
To me, being a superwoman means… performing the role of a mum, wife, daughter, employee, boss and athlete equally well.
If I could have a superpower, it would be… to make all smokers quit smoking! I feel very strongly about this because smoking doesn’t just harm the individual’s health, but the health of everyone around them too.
I juggle my different commitments by… enjoying what I do – everything becomes easier that way.
My biggest time-saving tip is… doing wall sits while brushing my teeth every morning and night.
If I only have five minutes to work out, I will… climb a flight of stairs.
When people say they’re impressed by my career and fitness achievements, I will… say “You can do it too!”
My life motto is… love what you do and the desired results will follow.