In the Spotlight: Vicki Thai

What’s your name?

Vicki Thai

How old are you?

26

Occupation?

Photo Editor for a start up company.

Specialty/Interests?

Running, but I love HIIT workouts.

How long have you been running for? What made you start running?

I’ll be running officially for two years in June. My fiancee and brother-in-law are both runners, but I didn’t start running because of them. The most I ever ran was probably 5 miles a couple years ago along the Cross Island and I hated it. Before running, I used to bike for leisure and did a couple bike races but I never really got into it. One day I just showed up to a Nike run in Central Park and have been running with them ever since. Part of me was just bored with the same old routine of going to work and then going home.

How often do you run? Where’s your favorite route or place to run? 

When I’m lazy I run at least once or twice a week, which isn’t a lot. But when I’m training for Marathons I try my best to run at least 5-6 times a week. I love running new routes and get bored very easily, but one of my favorite routes when I was training last year was the trail that connects Cunningham and Alley Pond Park.

How many races have you completed so far? Can you share about a particular one, and what makes that race stand out in your memory? 

I think I’ve done about 19 races. Two marathons, 8 half marathons and the rest are short ones that vary from 5ks to 10ks. Hmm… a race that stands out… The first Staten Island Half Marathon was one of my favorites. Although everyone hates Staten Island, this particular one was a reminder of what training can do. When I ran this, I was also training for the Philadelphia Marathon. The weather was nice and I felt strong towards the end of the race. I finished with a 10:18 pace. I’m definitely not the fastest runner out there… but just a reminder that getting those long runs in is important. I also ran this race again for the second time and it was my slowest half ever. Even though I was training for the NYC Marathon, the conditions I ran in was terrible. I ran with a poncho the whole time and it just never stopped raining.

What or who inspires you to be active? 

Having a goal motivates me. When I first started running and signed up for my first half marathon, the goal was really to just finish. Now that I know I am capable of finishing a race, I want to get faster even if it’s by a little bit. I feel like I’ve slowed down a lot ever since I started running, so that’s something that I hope to change this year. But it also goes to show that running for me is more about endurance.

I remember you telling me you don’t like running, so if you don’t mind me asking, why do you run?

I have a love/hate relationship with running, but more so hate. Running is hard and I still don’t find it easy. I still struggle, trying to catch my breath, or running the right pace so I don’t burn out too quickly. So many things! But all in all… running has been good for me and I always feel accomplished after a run. I run because it gives me a routine, a goal and motivates me overall.

Do you train? If so, what is it like? How often and what’s involved in your training? Do you prefer to run with others or by yourself? 

Signing up for races motivate me. Like I said, I’m not the fastest runner but races push me to actually run and stay on track when I can. I’ll be training for NYC Marathon this year. Training is tiring and time consuming because it’s so difficult to find time to run or cross train. It’s easier said than done though… a lot of these half marathons, I can’t say I really put in my all when it comes to training. I just run it for the fun of it.

What tips do you have about breathing while running? Do you have a breathing technique that works for you?

I don’t. I’m probably the worse with breathing and still struggle myself, but I try to find a rhythm in my breathing to get used to at the start of every run.

How do you prepare for a race the week or night before? 

If it’s a half marathon, I always eat pasta. I love pasta. But I do try to hydrate and go to bed early (something I’m not very good at.) Throughout the week I try not to eat junk or drink soda which applies to me currently since I’m training. I limit the amount of sugary drinks I have and just stick to water.

What running shoes/brands would you recommend or like to wear for your races?

Everyone is different. I love my Nike Lunaracers 3, and have 3 of the same exact pairs in different colors. It’s pretty worn out because I love running in them for short distances. For long distances I wear OnCloud which I got fitted for at Jack Rabbit. Overall, I like sneakers that are lightweight, but provide enough cushion. I do love Nike gear though. I wish I had the money to try out different brands of running sneakers. I feel like that would be bad though since I already own so many pairs of shoes in general.

Do you listen to music while you run? If so, what do you like to listen to?

For races, definitely. I like anything upbeat and catchy. You know, Justin Bieber.

How do you think running has affected your body or life?

I’ve always had trouble putting on weight but I’ve probably gained 10-15 pounds running and I love it! My legs have gotten so strong, but I also don’t fit any of my pants anymore. It won’t go past my calves. I haven’t worn sandals in a while because my toenails are always missing from the amount of damage I do to my feet. It’s definitely time consuming and that’s probably one of the other things I dislike about running. I’m not a very fast runner, so finding time after work to run is tiring. I revolve my schedule and social life around running. Sounds crazy but it’s the only way I can keep myself on track.

What do you like most about running? What do you like least?

When I’m running with Nike, I love that everyone motivates each other. Even during races, people try to push you even if you don’t know them. It definitely pushes me to be better and (faster). I hate that it’s so time consuming and if I miss a run I feel so guilty about it. 

As a runner, what is a must-have product you have come across? Why or how has it helped you? 

Foam roller. It helps with my soreness and I feel so good the next day. Also, I love compression socks. It provides extra support for my feet and keeps me moving. My favorite compression socks that go up to my calves are from 2XU.

What’s your favorite recovery meal/food after a race?

I am really horrible at eating healthy in general… But every night after a run I always get myself a egg drop or hot and sour soup. I don’t know what it is, but I love it. After a race, I am always craving Pho or noodle soup.

Has running gotten easier for you? What’s your next goal(s)? 

It hasn’t and it’s because I don’t challenge myself enough. I’m a slow runner because I’m too afraid to push myself to become faster. But that’s my goal this year. The first time I ran a marathon it was in 5:01. This past year I ran NYC in 5:07 which was so hilly. Hopefully I can finish the NYC Marathon in under five hours. I know its doable, I just really need to train harder and focus.

To stay active, besides running, is there anything else you’re thinking about trying soon?

I started Kayla Itsines BBG a while back and loved it. I recently just started again. I’ll be riding in this year’s Five Boro Bike Tour after a two year hiatus, so hopefully I’ll start biking soon. I love HIIT workouts, boxing, hot yoga and Mile High Run Club. I tried Barre classes and hated it. I thought it would help with flexibility… but really I just struggled throughout the whole class.

What tip(s) do you have for someone who might be considering to sign up for their first race or anyone who is new to running?

Stop making excuses and just get out there.


Good job Vicki, thanks for inspiring others to run and for always encouraging me. Happy running! See ya out there girl!

[All photos used in this post were provided via @vickithai.]

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