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10 Questions with Cao Ngoc Ha

Cao Ngọc Hà – 2nd place VMM 100km runner and a great ambassador for our sport.

When did you start running long distance and what is your running background?
Before starting full marathon running, I was just a normal person: each year, I would run for a while then stop, starting from 2km up to 10km, rest for 3-4 months and then start again from 2km to 3km. At that time, I ran alone for no detailed purpose, so it was rather boring.
Back in high school, I took part in school sport teams from 1500m-5000m. I also came first and second in competitions held in my province.

What was the longest distance that you had run before the 100km VMM?
174km in 24 hours. That was when I ran in a 24h challenge on 30/04/2014

How did you feel when you crossed the finish line at VMM 100km?
It was wonderful and I had peace of mind because I could take a rest without worrying about someone passing me!

Which do you prefer: running on roads or trails?

I think that I like trails more because the landscape is more diverse and not as boring as running on roads. Besides, it may hurt less and cause less injury.

What is your nutrition plan for the VMM 100Km ?
It is simple in that I eat as much as possible: 2 hours before the race I eat rice/noodle, 5’ before the start I use 1 gel, then every 20’ I eat half a gel. I drink immediately on thirst, and I combine eating gel and drinking. I’m also keen on cola, so if the aid stations have it, I will drink it instead of water. At the end of the race, the last 10-15Km before the finish line, if it does not waste too much time I will eat more noodle.

You are a member of Long Distance Runners (LDR) – please tell the readers about this club.
LDR is a group on Facebook and I have been part of it since it began. Along with other runners, we do a lot of things to improve and develop the group. Also, thanks to LDR, I can maintain my running regularly.

As I mentioned, before I just ran only 10Km as it was boring, but after joining LDR, I made friends with many runners, we talked about the running and my understanding about the world of running was broadened. Our LDR has weekly practice on Sun at two locations: Hoan Kiem Lake and West Lake.

How do you think the running community has been developing in Vietnam for the last few years?
In my opinion, the running community has seen significant growth. Back in 2013 you could count the number of Vietnamese runners in the half marathon and full marathon on your hands – now that is only the case for the 100km.

In addition, the running community has developed quite positively in terms of its spirit and objectives which mostly aim for a healthy life and life balance. For those who only focus on work, their health is negatively impacted, but running will help them recover and release stress, by that way they also become a role model and help convince other family members to join in sport for a healthy, active and more balanced lifestyle.

Do you have any advice for people who are considering to participate in VMM 100Km for the first time?

Personally, I think they should have a serious attitude toward it and think carefully about whether they can spend at least 7 hours/ week on training. If they decide to race, then they should consider walking the steep ups and running the downs and flats. Of course a very good pair of shoes is helpful!

What is your objective for VMM 100km 2017?
I want to reduce my running time by 1 hour, from 15h36’ to 14h30’. Moreover, VMM is also an opportunity for me to challenge myself before before deciding to join HK Vibram 2018.

What is your typical weekly workout to prepare for a race?

I am currently training for the 21Km in Ironman Da Nang relay, 70km Vietnam Jungle Marathon, 70Km in Tam Dao and 100Km in VMM. I train for 14-18h per week. Monday I take off, easy days are Wed and Fri. Tue, Thurs, Sat and Sun are hard days.

My exercises include:
Ultra: running with all equipment as in an ultra marathon, for about 2h on weekdays and 4-5h on Sat and Sun. Besides, every other Sat I have trail running with my friends and each month, I will also have a 10h running session on a Sun.
Incline 14-20% : running on the treadmill with an incline of 14-20% – I am working to increase the time I do this for to one hour
10’ strength: Strength training with weightlifting on hard days: Dead lift, Heel raise, Squat. I apply a Super Slow method using weights for only one set for each move until failure. I keep doing this 3 times a week while the original Super Slow is usually once a week.
Cycling: I do cycling around 7.5h / week on hard days and spend 1h15’ on biking to work and back home every evening. It helps me increase my thigh muscle without risk of injury and prepare for the Ironman Da Nang next year.
Heat training: I get used to running in a hot environment by Interval / Tempo on Thursday afternoon. Apart from off-road running, 10h running is also a heat training method because there will be a 2h running in high temperature condition in this exercise
Swimming: I go swimming with family to recover on Sat evening.