Katia Kucher wakes up at 6am to go running almost every day, takes care of her children, runs her own fitness classes, spend time seeing clients as a nutritionist at Hong Kong Sports Clinic and motivates others to run anything from half marathons to ultra-marathons. Wanting to understand how she is able to do this all, we caught up with her to understand what advice she has to incorporating a sustainable fitness and exercise regime into our busy lives.

Katia’s first recommendation relates to the importance of balance, and the way to achieve this balance is through a special “Vitamin N”; Nature. 

“We belong in nature” Katia says, “It is hugely beneficial both mentally and physically.”

One year, she helped organise an annual IKEA team challenge – a hike. This turned out to be an actual challenge – for her – as some of the employees couldn’t make it up the stairs to begin the hike. When she spoke with them, she realised that many of them spent very little time outdoors, and this made their bodies struggle.

They asked Katia for suggestions to improve their health, to which her response was simple; “Just get out of the office, and go for walks at lunchtime.” They were so grateful for this piece of advice, and later on those small changes led to significant improvements to both their physical and mental health.

Katia’s second recommendation is the importance of making fitness a part of your lifestyle to avoid the feeling of burning out. This means going to bed earlier so you can get enough rest to wake up early, and “slowly your body will get used to it” she explains.

Katia stressed the importance of making gradual changes and improvements. “Start walking then move to running small distances, and then you can add 10% to your distance each time you run.”

Whilst adding more miles to your run is helpful, it is not the only answer to maintaining a fit and healthy life. Katia’s third recommendation is that nutrition and strength training are just as important. Katia firmly believes that each individual is different, with different needs therefore their training regime and nutrition may vary.

“Nutrition must be personalised and adjusted according to our body and lifestyle. Which is why fad diets are unsustainable.”

Katia has run several Ultra-marathons (100km), reflected through her training regime. She trains often, and she trains with a specific intensity. She advises that it is not about pushing your body to exhaustion each time, but rather working till you feel tired, and slowly building up that endurance over time.

“Keep pushing yourself so you feel tired, and you get used to feeling tired, and you start to get stronger.”

Katia recommends this training works for anyone who wants to add distance to their running. Katia has witnessed people who can complete Ultra Marathons without building up to it, however, those people will feel a lot of pain and soreness after, and it doesn’t make running and fitness a sustainable lifestyle. It is better to pursue proper training, both distance and strength training, your body will be more prepared to run long distances without feeling any soreness or pain after.

Katia shares the story of having recently completed the Angkor Wat half marathon. The next day at the airport she could clearly identify the competitors who had run the race without much training, and those who had trained properly. The pained expressions on the untrained athletes told their story, whilst the trained athletes looked like they were ready for another marathon.

This is the result of training: training your body to recover efficiently.

“But that is with any sport, if you do strength and core training outside of your regular training you will be able to improve your performance quicker” Katia explains.

This is a major concept that many people are aware of but do not quite understand the importance of it. By training outside of your sport, you are not only able to increase your performance; you are also able to decrease your recovery time because you have built strength in your body as a whole.

This in turn is how people are able to perform well and maintain a healthy life. When it comes to fitness and physical activity, there is a lot of contradicting information about what you should and should not do. But the most important thing to remember is that you should never stop moving. Whether it is going for a walk or jog at lunchtime or building muscle and core strength, always keep moving, and make sure that it becomes part of your daily routine.