Soh Rui Yong is no stranger to competitive distance running. He is Singapore’s current national record holder for the 5km, 10km, Half-Marathon and Marathon distances. On top of his impressive list of local achievements, Rui Yong is also a two-times SEA Games gold medalist for the Marathon. His inputs as an Under Armour athlete have been instrumental to the design and engineering of the Velociti Elite. RUN SG caught up with him (literally) at Under Armour’s official launch event of the Flow Velociti Elite to find out more about his thoughts and experiences of the shoe.
RUN SG: The Flow Velociti Elite is Under Armour's first carbon-plated shoe that’s entering the market. What are your first impressions of it?
Rui Yong: I have really enjoyed being a part of the developmental process for the Velociti Elite. I think the development of this shoe started in 2020 or even earlier; I was only involved in it in 2021. I’ve been using it in my sessions and contributing to its development by giving Under Armour feedback on the final product which is quite different from the prototype that I was using. I set my personal best in a marathon in one of the prototypes, and that wasn’t even the complete product yet so it should be even better now.
RUN SG: How has the final product differed from the prototype that you've tested earlier?
Rui Yong: The shoe is definitely softer now. Initially, I think that it was a bit firm which made it feel more like a traditional racing shoe. Now with the additional cushion that’s been put in, the shoe is going to be a lot more comfortable especially at the longer distances.
RUN SG: How do you find the lockdown of the shoe, its grip, its durability etc.?
Rui Yong: I use the Velociti Elite a lot for track sessions. I haven’t used other super shoes in races but I’ve been told that at times, other super shoes tend to have a higher stack height which could be a bit uncomfortable when turning around bends at the track. I’ve never felt that in the Velociti Elite. So, one thing that I really like about this shoe is that you get the super shoe ‘feel’ but without the problems of instability at tight turns and all that.
RUN SG: What are some of the unique features of the Velociti Elite that helps it stand out from the competition of carbon-plated shoes?
Rui Yong: I haven’t used any of its competition for races yet but personally, I’m still quite old-school; I only rotate three pairs of shoes. My training shoe is the HOVR Sonic, my road racing and track workout shoe is the Velociti Elite and my spike shoe which I use for really fast track sessions or track races is the Shakedown Elite.
RUN SG: How does the Velociti Elite compare with similar speed-oriented shoes in the Under Armour shoe lineup?
Rui Yong: The Velociti Elite is definitely a huge step up. To be candid, you would really struggle to find a competitive Under Armour racing shoe previously. I’ve been using the Velociti Elite since the middle of 2021; I can’t really remember the shoe that I was using before that but it was really just a traditional racing flat.
RUN SG: Other than racing in the Velociti Elite, how else should amateur runners utilise the shoes in their own training program?
Rui Yong: Definitely use them for your key track sessions and your key tempo sessions to familiarise yourself with the shoes before using them for races. Don’t use the Velociti Elite for easy jogs and slow runs as I think the shoe, like any other super shoe, doesn’t feel that ‘natural’ or comfortable at slower speeds. You need to be going faster for your running gait to feel natural and comfortable with the shoes.
What the Velociti Elite has is a carbon-fibre plate and Pebax foam which in combination act as a rocker and a spring to push you forward in every step. The engineering of the shoes make them respond a lot better when you’re running fast. When you’re running slow, you’re not really throwing yourself forward whereas the Velociti Elite is meant to propel you. It’s the same reason why you wouldn’t use a chunky pair of training shoes for races - it just doesn’t feel natural or comfortable.
RUN SG: Drawing from your expertise in long distance racing, what are some of your considerations when you look for a pair of competitive long distance performance shoes?
Rui Yong: Comfort and lightness! In Singapore, it’s also important for the upper to be breathable and light as we sweat a lot due to the climate. If the upper is heavy, it just soaks up all the sweat and makes things miserable. What the Velociti Elite has is a very thin upper, you can even see your feet through it.
Under Armour has managed to get the formula right with Velociti Elite; it’s light yet cushy enough to protect your feet. When I raced my best ever marathon time, it was with the prototype of the shoe and I really felt that it was a huge step up from traditional racing flats that I had previously. My feet a lot better protected towards the late stages of the marathon as compared to traditional racing flats where you have sore calves and your legs just feel really beat up from 30km onwards. I can actually try and race the last few kilometres rather than struggle through them!
RUN SG: You have been involved in the development of the Velociti Elite for some time. What are some of the ways you think that the shoes can be improved in its next iteration?
Rui Yong: Well, if you make the shoe even lighter and springier, that would be the most simple way to improve the shoe.
RUN SG: What would be your advice for runners aspiring to reach your level of performance?
Rui Yong: It’s really about consistency. In Singapore, what I observed to be the main issue is that people lack consistency especially when you start working in a full-time. You don’t really have a good work-life balance as your working (or studying) hours could be quite a lot. It’s just the way that our Singaporean culture is. But if you can find 30 minutes or an hour a day to go out for a run and 1 to 2 hours twice a week for key sessions, I think that’s the consistency that can help you keep building on your fitness and not lose everything that you have gained. So I think that consistency definitely helps and finding the right group to push yourself on hard days helps too (I run in groups twice a week, alone or with a buddy on other days).
Keep your easy days easy and your hard days hard. So for hard days I’m running faster than 3 minutes per kilometre whereas I can be running up to 6 minutes per kilometre on easy days. I really think that taking easy days easy is what helps with consistency. I’ve run 14:44 minutes for 5km and I’ve seen guys who have ran 15 to 18 minutes doing their easy runs at 4:30 minutes per kilometre whereas I’m doing easy runs at 5:30 to 6 minutes per kilometre. So someone is definitely doing something wrong and I don’t think that it’s me. It’s not how well you can run fast on easy days, it’s how well you can run fast at workouts. And if you’re really maximising your body on workout days, by default you wouldn’t be able to run really fast on easy days. When you don’t have that polarisation, you aren’t really achieving and it leads to a plateauing of fitness.
In Singapore, hydration and nutrition is obviously very important. I have a good partner, Pocari Sweat, for my hydration needs and I use PURE Sports Nutrition’s protein blends to supplement my nutrition. It at least gives the body the proteins necessary for recovery from hard sessions and doubles-up up as a breakfast smoothie for when you’re rushing to the office in the morning. These are the little things that can help your recovery.
Getting sleep is also important. 8 hours a day is ideal. Some of us are busier than others but if you can shoot for about there and try to make up for it whenever you can, I think that’ll be good.
The UA Flow Velociti Elite is now available online and in Under Armour Brand Houses.