Eng Ying Tian: When Runner Meets Mom

Ying Tian shares about her pregnancy journey as a runner and how she managed to keep up her health, stamina and running before, during and after pregnancy recovery.


31-year old Ying Tian may not look it, but she is a mother of an 18-month-old baby. A Senior Leasing Executive, her hobbies include fashion, blogging about her life, and sports, including a very avid love of running that started around 2009. She has achieved many running milestones, having completed 15 full marathons both in Singapore and overseas, including the Tokyo Marathon of 2015 when she was two months pregnant.

We talk to Ying Tian about her pregnancy journey as a runner and how she managed to keep up her health, stamina and running before, during and after pregnancy recovery.


Q. What kind of runner were you before pregnancy?

Ying Tian: I was pretty active, running around four times a week leisurely while training up for my upcoming marathons. My usual mileage is about 50-70km a week.

Q. What were you most worried about when you first found out you were pregnant?

Ying Tian: I was concerned if my baby was fine, as I had run the Tokyo Marathon 2015 not knowing I was pregnant, with an unexpected personal best. My gynaecologist later informed that running that distance did not affect my baby as I was less than ten weeks pregnant back then, and babies are generally very small at that time period.

As a first-time mum, I was worried if I could continue exercising like before. To me, my baby was, and still is, my priority. I could not imagine not being able to sweat it out for the next few months!

Q. What adjustments did you have to do to your training routine?

Ying Tian: Lots of changes had to be made to ensure that I could train safely. I consulted my gynae and he assured me that it was fine since I have been actively working out before pregnancy. Most importantly, I had to listen to my body to ensure that the activities were not too intensive for my body.

To track my health, when I exercised, I used a heart-rate monitor watch. I continued running up till six months of pregnancy with pre-natal yoga, spinning and body pump done in the gym. When my knees felt strained due to my growing bump, I replaced running in my third trimester with brisk walk, spinning and swimming for my cardio fix.

My body felt great when I was exercising and it helped to curb my morning sickness. In the last few days before I delivered, I was still working out while waiting for my little one to arrive.


Q. How much of a change did you have in your diet when pregnant than when you were training normally?

Ying Tian: I was hungry every few hours when I was pregnant. Thus, I had to increase my food intake compared to before, with snacks being a must before and after any workout. I tried to avoid sweet items and replaced it with healthier snacks like nuts.

I’m thankful that I didn’t develop any cravings throughout so my food choices were as per normal. However, I avoided raw food like sashimi and raw eggs as per my doctor’s advice.

Q. Take us through your head when you were trying to juggle running and the beginnings of pregnancy. What were you feeling?

Ying Tian: Every run left me feeling great with an unexplainable happiness, knowing that I was working out together with my baby. My morning sickness was extremely serious and somehow, only running could alleviate that pain. I looked forward to every run and felt thankful that my body could still perform while growing another human being inside of it! It was truly an amazing feeling knowing that my body is capable of doing so much.


Q. Were there any contradictions in the advice that your doctors gave you and the advice your elders gave you during pregnancy?

Ying Tian: My family was supportive even though they were apprehensive about me still running when pregnant. I guess it’s that misconception that pregnant women should rest and not sweat it out!

My gynaecologist on the other hand encouraged me to stay healthy and happy without giving up my favourite activities. That gave me the reassurance to continue keeping fit!

Q. What advice would you give pregnant runners if they choose to continue running as a sport during their carrying of term?

Ying Tian: I strongly encourage pregnant runners to continue walking/running if their body is up for it and if the doctor has given the go-ahead. Always listen to your body and stop when you feel any discomfort.

Most importantly, it’s important not to attempt anything new during pregnant so if you are an active runner, running will give us more benefits than harm!

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Q. What would you recommend runners who are looking into alternative sports when pregnant?

Ying Tian: I was advised that swimming is the best form of cardio as it helps our joints to relax without straining our muscles too much. An alternative is spinning (cycling on a stationary bike) as cycling outdoors could be too dangerous.

Q. What was your way of getting back into shape after giving birth?

Ying Tian: I’ve been breast-feeding for 17 months so far and it really helps to burn off my calories without me having to do too much! Motherhood itself is a huge form of workout itself, having to juggle household chores and taking care of a baby.

On top of that, I exercise at least four times a week – running, bikram yoga, body pump and spinning mainly. Even 30 mins of work-out is better than nothing and I try to keep myself active as much as I can. Even on off-days, I will opt for climbing up the stairs which keeps me toned.

Q. How much of a balance was there juggling the period after birth and getting back into running?

Ying Tian: I stated running a month after giving birth and joined my first race (Standard Chartered Marathon 10km) where I brisk-walked throughout.

It was tough juggling my nursing schedule, baby duties and running but it was all worth it.  Regular running three to four times a week has helped to get my stamina back after six months. I guess it was always the struggle of either sleeping in during my free-time or go running. I usually chose the latter as it always leaves me feeling so rejuvenated.

As a new mum, I do my best to squeeze in free slots just to exercise and plan my exercise schedule a week in advance. Runs now are kept short but effective as I no longer have the luxury to go for leisurely long runs.

Signing up for marathons also keeps me focused and forces me to train despite my hectic schedule. I completed four marathons last year (Sundown Marathon, Gold Coast Marathon, Osaka Marathon) with the last being a pacing assignment for the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore.

Also, running together in a group keeps me motivated especially on lazy weekends where I just want to sleep in. I was running with Running Department for 12 weeks last year and their enthusiasm rubbed onto me to keep me disciplined!

I’m lucky to be blessed with a supportive husband and family who understands how important work-outs are to be in order for me to function properly as a mum and person!

Ying Tian blogs at http://ruffledwhiteskirt.blogspot.sg/ where she writes about her adventures, running, being a mom and much more!


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