She was overweight as a child, had never been below 70kg since secondary school, and recorded 106kg at her heaviest after her second pregnancy. Today, 32-year-old Hafiza Othman weighs 64kg, sports an athletic built and is training for her first ever full IRONMAN race.
“After the birth of my first and second child, I got heavier, and I was devastated. I eventually took on the challenge of losing weight, and lost 15kg within three months by taking supplement shakes,” she says.
But of course, that wasn’t enough as she needed to get her body moving to lose more.
This prompted her to get herself into a training group so she could learn from experienced triathletes. The progress was slow but hardwork led Hafiza to her first event, the 2013 Newton Run (15k) in Puchong. This, she says, had changed her forever.
From this point onwards, there was no stopping for Hafiza.
“I love intense sports, and to me, running, swimming and cycling seem like a perfect combination. I also wanted to prove to everyone that a woman with kids and those donning hijab can also be part of extreme races like IRONMAN,” says Hafiza.
With that, she has completed the Half-IRONMAN 70.3 race three times in less than six months. The real deal is now on as Hafiza will be tackling a full IRONMAN race which involves a 3.8km swim, 180km cycling and a 42.2km run. The competition is happening on the Nov 12th in Langkawi.
For this, she has been training six days a week for the last five months and, watches her diet and nutrition for faster recovery. Her diet involves protein shake for breakfast and post-workout for muscle recovery. She also avoids spicy and oily foods, and eats every three to four hours.
“This race is a gift for myself as I couldn’t do it before. I aim to seek adventure wherever I can. It is definitely a reason to make me smile and find peace within me,” she says.
Her journey hasn’t been without struggles. When it comes to training for long distance races like the IRONMAN, Hafiza admits that she feels constant guilt about how her training can affect her personal relationships with her partner, kids and family members.
“IRONMAN is much more than individual endeavour. Family component is key,” she says.
Planning and time management are crucial for Hafiza so she has enough time with her kids as well as her training. Her schedule on a typical weekday is about spending four hours weight training, swimming, running and cycling after sending her kids to school. She also goes to the gym twice a week and a long run on the weekends with her buddies.
For IRONMAN beginners, Hafiza says everyone has to start somewhere.
“Push yourself and one day, you will get to where you want to go,” says Hafiza.